Turn Your Passion for Grilling Into Extra Cash by Selling BBQ Meals on the Weekends
Chicken Grills for Small Roadside BBQ Operations
Are you worried about paying your bills or even losing your house?
This year, more people like you are turning their passion for grilling into extra cash by selling BBQ meals on the weekends.
If you like to cook, selling grilled chicken at a roadside operation is one of the fastest and easiest ways to generate a consistent stream of extra cash without giving up your full-time job!
And the business model is attractive right now because it doesn’t conflict with the guidelines for events and restaurants.
Let me be clear up-front: I cannot promise that you’ll make any money doing this, but it’s not unusual for these roadside operations to clear $500 to $1,000 in a day or even more, after their equipment is paid for.
Think about it...
Regardless of how bad the economy gets, people never stop eating, so unless your food is terrible, the product will always be in demand.
Most of us are eating out less and some restaurants are even going out of business, but we still enjoy eating food prepared by someone else, which means new and interesting take-out options are in high demand.
Plus, you can start up a roadside operation with a relatively low up-front investment!
You don’t need a permanent structure, and when you start small, it doesn’t take more than a couple of people to run it, so your overhead is low compared to running a brick-and-mortar business.
Tips to Make Your Roadside BBQ Operation a Success:
What you’re looking for is a busy place in your local area, such as a parking lot next to a main road. Look for a spot with good visibility, then ask permission from the owners. They may even see it as a way to get more traffic to their business.
To make this successful, you’ll need some repeat customers. If your food is good, some of your customers will come back regularly and tell their friends about you. Make sure the cookies are fresh, let people choose from a variety of drinks and chips, and serve juicy, but well-done chicken with the right balance of smoke and seasoning.
Follow the Rules
You’ll need to figure out what’s required in your state for selling BBQ. Here in Pennsylvania, we have legislation on local and state levels. If you’re not sure where to start, contact your local health department or your state’s Department of Agriculture for licensing and other requirements, but don’t let the rules bog you down.
If you’re just getting started, we recommend grilling chicken legs with the thigh attached, and a Meadow Creek chicken flipper is the best grill to use for this. That is, unless you prefer to do it the hard way.
These grills will make it easy for you to wow your customers and crank out consistent results in each batch of meat.
Here in Pennsylvania, a chicken leg and thigh is a common cut to serve at a take-out BBQ operation. To make it a meal, people often add a whoopie pie from a local bakery, a bag of chips, and a drink. To get going, you can source drinks and serving-sized bags of chips by the case from Sam’s Club or Costco and find a local bakery that’s willing to give you bulk pricing on Whoopie pies.
These meals usually sell for $10 each with roughly a 40–50% profit margin after paying for the food and supplies. We have grills that hold between 50 and 300 chicken legs at a time. You’ll be able to turn out a new batch every two hours, so assuming you have the customers, you can do the math for an estimate of your profits.
Once you’re up and running, you can add more equipment for smoking ribs and pulled pork to increase your profits even more. You might also want to smoke or make your own sides, but the key is finding the quickest and easiest way to make your first dollar.
There are a lot of variables involved, and of course, we can’t make any promises of income, but if you live in a town with people that get hungry three times a day, and you’re willing to work, a roadside BBQ operation is a great opportunity to make some extra cash without giving up the security of your job.
Need Help Choosing?
Contact one of our dealers or browse our product listings above to find a grill that's right for you:
"I started cooking barbecue chicken with my dad in the late 40's and 50's. He would cook for our church and fire company fundraisers. After my father died, I started barbecuing chicken for the churches or any other fundraiser. I have cooked chicken for Relay for Life and for band camps, but mostly for churches.
"I purchased my Meadow Creek cooker in 2005. This is one of the best investments I have ever made. This would be a great business for someone. The best reward is when someone comes up and tells me, "That is the best chicken I ever had; how do you keep it so good and moist?" Thanks, Meadow Creek!"
—Stewart Ellis, Clear Brook, VA
Chicken Cooker Airflow
The food is separated from the fire by vertical distance as in a traditional block pit. The air drafts through the vents at the bottom sides of the pit and out the top. Optional lids (standard on some units) give you ultimate control over flare-ups and make it easier to grill tender, juicy chicken with crispy skin every time!
Why you should consider a Meadow Creek Chicken Cooker...
There are two common problems when cooking bone-in chicken: Over direct heat, your chicken will tend to dry out before it's done; on an offset smoker, unless you are really good at it, the skin will be rubbery. The distance between the fire and the grate in these Meadow Creek grills eliminates this problem.
- This grill makes it easy to grill perfectly done bone-in chicken. It also works great for other foods, such as potatoes and sausage links. For foods that require a more intense fire, such as burgers and steaks, you can raise the charcoal pan (brackets are custom on the larger units). Read the Meadow Creek Buyer Guide to learn how it works.
- This grill offers one of the most enjoyable methods of raising money or simply feeding a crowd. Whether you're just cooking for your family or for hundreds at a fund-raiser, we have the size grill that will work for you.
- Locking sandwich grates pivot in the middle to make turning the meat quick and easy. The grates have handles designed to conveniently and safely turn the meat or remove it when you're done. Simply grab a handle and turn it with one hand or lift both ends to remove the rack from the grill. That's all there's to it!
- Rust-free T304 stainless steel grates eliminate the hassle of scrubbing rust off the grates and the possibility of rust contamination on your meat.
- This heavy duty charcoal grill is made of 13 gauge welded steel painted with heat-resistant black paint in an attractive matte finish.
- Removable ash pans make removing the ashes a snap.
- The trailer models are built on an angle frame and feature a 2" ball hitch and safety chains, heavy duty wheel jack, rubber torsion axles, road-worthy tires, and DOT-compliant flush-mount LED lights, reflector strips, and VIN plate. We are a licensed trailer manufacturer and can provide a certificate of origin for trailer models.
Usage Summary: The Meadow Creek Chicken Cooker is the perfect choice if you want to grill perfectly done bone-in chicken and also want the option to grill other foods, such as sausage links, burgers, steaks, and potatoes.
Difference in Models: Available in charcoal/wood fired models. Sizes range from small backyard models to a custom order trailer with as many pits as you need. Browse the product listings above for more information and a list of features, measurements, and upgrades for each model.
How the David Family Raised $3,535 in One Day With a Chicken Barbecue
PLUS Our Best Fundraising Tips
Chicken Cooker Stories and Photos
Need Help Choosing?
The Meadow Creek Buyer Guide will help you define your goals and choose a smoker or grill with confidence.