I was looking through some old papers today and came across some notes I had taken in 2002 while talking to a restaurant consultant from Texas who claimed to have been in the bbq business for the past 10-years.
As I recall it, the gentleman and his wife opened a 30-seat restaurant in a portable building in a town of 7,000 people. He explained that he had an electric smoker that used wood chips for smoke generation/flavor, a couple of steam tables and a soda fountain. The business was basically a two person operation with a drive-thru window and consisted largely of carry-out orders from working families on their way home from work in a larger community nearby.
He said that the bbq restaurant generated gross revenues of $100,000+ per year and a 70% profit margin. I am guessing that he owned the land previously or at least wasn't paying much rent for the land, although he did not clarify that point.
As a part of his services, he would offer bbq consulting in starting a restaurant for anyone willing to enter into a consulting agreement with him in return for $25,000. The $25,000 purchased three weeks of on-site start-up consulting and 12-months of telephone consultation.
I did not take him up on the offer, but I often wished I lived a little closer to Texas so that I could visit his restaurant and check it out. It sounds like a barbecuer's "dream" situation.
The cynic in me though, wonders if this story is true or not. Funny thing...I wasn't willing to risk $25,000 to find out.