Mobile Oven Selection and Next Steps for Registering Your Business

So let’s talk ovens.  When we first decided to make this a mobile business (so that we could go to Farmers Markets, move the oven into storage when we’re not using it for long periods, and delve into catering), I started researching into both into turn key operations (the oven arrives mounted and built already) as well as self build option.  For those who do a topical search for mobile ovens, the first oven’s you’ll likely see are the Forno Bravo ovens.  I’m not sure if this is because they’ve marketed well, if they have a dominant share of the market, or some combination of the two, but it’s easily the first thing that comes up in any search engine.  I’m probably not the first to tell you that if you plan to do serious research, Google really only lets you scratch the surface when you don’t fully understand what your searching for.  My initial search resulted in 4-5 ovens options, which gave us a lot of pause in pursuing the mobile since the set ups were running $12-20K.  I even called a few places, and they told me that a mobile oven set up would easily be $15K and up.

As I continued to dig deeper, check out forums focused on making great pizza, and mobile catering forums, I found that there were faaaaar more ovens than what my initial Google search turned up.  At the end of my searches, here’s what I turned up:

Round Boy Oven
Breadstone Ovens (FGM)
Los Angeles Oven Works
Raul’s Ovens
Bel Forno Pizza Ovens
Wildwood
Maine Wood Heat (Le Panyol)
Forno Classico
Outdoor Pizza Oven (Batali 750)
Earthstone Model 90 PA or 90 PAGW
Rocky Mountain Woodfired Oven (with Trailer)
FornoBravo Tailgater
Woodstone Portables – Trailered Oven
Solo Pizza Cart
Mugnaini Mobile Oven
Marra Forni Oven

And these are just the ones that could potentially be mobile!  So after talking to all these vendors, looking into their websites for UL and NSF certification, and reviewing oven designs, we started to narrow it down as a balance between cost and focus of the oven.  If anyone is ever looking for an oven, mobile or not, and would like to talk more about what I learned from each of these places, drop a note!  I’d be happy to share more info!

Here’s the thing:  Ovens aren’t designed equally.  Wood fired ovens (WFOs) can be build with larger openings for ease of putting in larger objects (whole turkeys!), have higher ceilings to hang stuff off of (smoking sausage, standing up turkeys to roast or even suckling pigs!), and are made of different materials (piece by piece bricks, cast cement, copper, etc.)  So what were we looking for?

Here’s what helped us simplify the list – We needed the oven to be cast, as with the travel we were going to do over roads, highways, etc. having a bunch of smaller brick pieces would result in many small pieces that would be vibrating creating potential for the oven to break apart more easily.  Our oven was going to be focused 90% of the time solely on making a great pizza, so we wanted a low dome (to keep the high heat close to the top of the pizza) for a more balanced cook.  We also wanted a smaller opening in general so that less heat would escape from the front of the oven, which would be open pretty regularly since we would be operating at the farmers market over 4-6 hours of time.  It needed to have UL/NSF certification so that it would pass health inspection.  We also wanted someone with great customer service pre-purchase as well as post-purchase, since this was new territory for us.  And, we wanted to keep the price low enough that we could afford to invest in it ourselves, so that mobilizing, permits, equipment, etc. could be covered mostly by the kickstarter.

Ultimately, we chose the Four Grand Mere (FGM), a French company that has expanded into the US and renamed Breadstone Ovens.  It met the requirements we were looking for, the owner was very active on forums, and they had great reputation from previous purchasers.  And that’s the new toy that’s been in my garage since last Tuesday!

IMG_3546

Note the low dome, small entry way, and cast pieces instead of brick.

IMG_3547

Let me tell you, the oven did not come so prettily arranged… it took my wife and I about 2.5 hours to unpack, and then move the pieces into place for this shot.  The oven is 700 lbs, and while it’s spread across 5 pieces (3 dome, 2 floor), the awkwardness of attempting to grip the pieces in a small space between the two of us was VERY challenging.  But for now, it’s set up and sitting in my garage, getting initial stages of curing thanks to a halogen lamp, until we can mount it and start some real fires.  Rest assured, you’ll see more pics as we build out the oven, whether you want to or not.  =)

So for those that are looking to this blog to learn more about setting up your business, even if it’s not food related, we’ve taken you through the process of becoming an S-Corp or LLC for your new venture.  The next step now is to establish your federal employer identification number (FEIN) so that you’re registered at the federal level.

First off, unlike registered your company with state, setting up an FEIN is FREE.  If you’re using a service or a website that is charging you for setting up the FEIN, you’re getting ripped off.  It’s an easy process, and you can do it online in just a few minutes here:

https://sa2.www4.irs.gov/modiein/individual/index.jsp

The site is only available from 7 AM to 10 PM EST, Mon-Fri (odd since it’s a website) so don’t plan on doing this over a weekend.  Since you’ve completed your S-Corp/LLC registration, the FEIN is actually breezy compared to what you had to do before… you’ve got your name in place, you’ve decided on your owners, picked an address, etc.  Just click through and fill out the info!  The only hiccup I noticed between the state of Illinois and federal level was that I was able to use any characters easily producible by the keyboard with State of Illinois, while at the Federal site doesn’t allow you to use non-letter/number characters.  So I can’t use commas, periods, dashes, etc.

Trust me, even with the hiccup, this was a fairly easy process.

Once you receive your FEIN, the next step in Illinois for our business was to register our business.  Confusing at first, as we’ve already registered our LLC, right?  Technically, the LLC/S-Corp is just the structure of your controllers for your business.  It basically tells the state you’ve set up a group of folks or have the intent to do business.  Now you actually have to REGISTER your business for the purposes of understanding what type of business you’re doing, and what type of tax they should be collecting from you.  I’m guessing this is true of all other states as well.

Here’s the website you need for registering your business in Illinois:  https://mytax.illinois.gov/_/#1

Again, a fairly simple process where they ask for your FEIN, LLC/S-Corp name, officer names and addresses, etc.  Then they have a string of very business specific questions (do you sell tires?  vending machine sales?  cigarettes?  are you renting a vehicle or hotel room for the business? etc.)  Our process was simple, yours may be less so depending on what your business is.

So as a recap, here’s what you’ve done to start your business:

1.  Set up your LLC/S-Corp with officers, paperwork, etc.

2.  Apply for your FEIN.

3.  After receiving your FEIN, register your business with the state.

There will be a few more steps for a food retailer that we’ll cover later, but for now, most generic businesses are set for a bit!  Congrats on being registered to do business in your state!

Alright, I’m off to the city for some meetings, to do some ingredient and equipment shopping, and then back home.  Tonight, I”ll be teaching one of my partners (Gambit) the intricacies of opening the dough, and then having him create 10 pizzas for practice so that we’ll have multiple folks that are capable of opening the dough!  Looking forward to a great pizza night!

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3 thoughts on “Mobile Oven Selection and Next Steps for Registering Your Business

  1. In Illinois, you can just register your company name and add a DBA (doing business as) for free. Thus, we are DBA Za Pi. I was going to save liability insurance for a later post tying directly to food, but you bring up a good point. EVERY business that has customer interaction should have liability insurance.

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