How to Start a Roasted Corn Business
Roasting corn is a simple but very profitable small investment business. Successful corn roasters make a full-time living, operating only during the summer months.
To start a roasted corn business, you will need to obtain permits and business licenses from the health department and the state. The following is a typical checklist for starting your business.
1. Decide on the size and scale of the operation.
2. Decide on the menu for your concession business.
3. Purchase your equipment and tools.
4. Register your business.
5. Apply for and obtain all necessary licenses and permits required to operate a food concession business.
6. Provide events and have fun managing your concession stand.
Permits, licenses and inspections
Each state has laws governing business licenses and permits. You will most likely need to register your business with the state agency in order to do business in the state. A tax identification number, business license number and tax registration number may be issued to your business depending on the state in which you operate. You should check with the city or county that the business location is zoned for this activity. You should have commercial liability insurance for both your business and your vehicle and trailer.
Department of Health and Food Safety
As a business owner and caterer, you will be preparing food for other people. Contact your county or state health department to obtain a copy of a food safety guide that will greatly help you learn more about food safety. Roasted corn is considered a less hazardous food, but if you’re going to sell potatoes and turkey legs, you may have to pay a higher fee.
Startup Costs for a Corn Roasting Business
Brand new corn roaster with warranty: $10,000-$12,000.
Used Corn Roaster: $5,000-$8,000.
Additional equipment and accessories: $1,200-$2,000.
Used Van or Truck: $2,000-$10,000.
Food costs for the first two events: $300-$1,000.
Event registration fee: $800-$3,000.
Fuel, utilities and other: $200.
Equipment Needed to Start a Corn Roasting Business
Professional machine for roasting corn at least 200-500 kernels per hour.
Boiler for melting oil
Steam table for storing boiled potatoes and turkey legs.
Two 20-lb. propane tanks
Commercial quality tent
Hand washing module (portable) very easy to assemble
Microphones. Little things
Google “Corn Roasters” and look for companies that will help you get started before you buy the equipment if you don’t have the money. One of the companies, Texas Corn Roasters, is helping.
How to find events and festivals
There are many sources for finding festivals and events, such as your vendor friends, your local chamber of commerce, car races, fairs and festivals, flea markets, rodeos, and theme parks. The Internet is one of the best sources for finding events. Many good sites provide this information. Always send a professionally made proposal with your application if you want to beat the competition.
Suppliers and manufacturers
Product suppliers and wholesalers are your key to success in this business. You can’t afford to buy food from retailers, so you need to find producers capable of providing you with quality food at wholesale prices. Every state and major city has a local supplier that delivers food products to local restaurants. “Wholesale Food Distributor” in the yellow pages is a good place to start. Corn is cheap if bought from a wholesaler.
Serving food at the festival
The way you serve can also improve your business. You will need specific seasonings for each item you serve. For example, sale, black pepper, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, lemon pepper, etc.
You’ve probably heard the saying “flash is money.” This is very true when it comes to the festival business. You can have the tastiest food, the best prices, well-trained staff, and a festival with thousands of people. If your booth is failing to attract customers, it’s probably the bad signage.
Like many other small profitable businesses, the roasted corn business is run by tight-lipped salespeople who don’t share tribal knowledge. There is no website or sources for a beginner to find information. Tribal knowledge can help you make an extra 25K a year. There is a very useful book “Win whole annual life of roasting corn” which covers this business with a very detailed level of detail. It is well worth buying.
If you’re planning to turn your concession business into a full-time job, consider an RV that can tow your corn roaster trailer and get on the list of concession vendors that follow a fair route.
Accounting and numbers are also a very important aspect of this business. A festival concession business offers financial and personal freedom like no other small business.
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