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No,No, No....... Pancake DINNERS. with locally raised SAUSAGE and real MAPLE SYRUP , not the erzatz kind, and cream chicken ala king on WAFFLES, like the volunteer fire department of my youth, ah, them were the days.....
SSS must disagree (I LOVE the Pogo Avatar) . Although I would prefer to EAT at the Pancake dinner we find Spaghetti a better money maker. Our Troop is involved in both and both are heavily attended. We do Spaghetti with Sauce (4-6 meatballs), Garlic Bread, Salad (pre-made) and a dessert and sell for $4-5. Raw materials cost us $2 so we make $3. We do it as a takeaway so we can typically make 500-600 dinners and sell 1,000 tickets (plus get an additional 30% in contributions from not carb eaters). We market it as a "don't cook drive through". Once you solve the pasta making problem (it takes HOURS to cook that many pounds of pasta--we have the help of a restaurant that flash cooks the pasta ahead of time so it shortens the time)
We have been doing this for about a decade and are blessed by our CO having a good kitchen.
The pancake dinner is a great social occasion but has several issues. First is folks prefer to sit down so you have a capacity issue. We have a large cafeteria to use but still it is a cap. Second is that you have a through put bottleneck on how many pancakes you can flip at one time. We have 4 large industrial ovens with huge hot surfaces and we cannot keep up. Second is that folks (especially scouters ;p expect protein (Bacon, Sausage) which gets expensive per person AND milk, coffee, and OJ. So we have to charge $10 and it costs us $5-7 for materials. And we have to bus tables. Between the price point and the capacity issue we make less money for more effort. I dont know how breakfast places do it.
That said pancake dinner is a great fellowship opportunity and lets the locals see our boys and have led to some goodwill and new contributions.
We have played with also doing a sausage/dog sort of drive through
So study your costs, price points, and logistics on how you plan to do it step and step. Go to restaurant supply stores for bulk food (we buy spaghetti sauce by the 1/2 gallon) for costing. Look for someone who cooked for large groups.
Down here in Texas, we have great success with our annual BBQ take out. Going on 15 or 16 years now, we always net more than enough to keep the troop running for the whole year. We've never done pancakes or spaghetti. Folks down here like BBQ.
We have both. One Troop does the Pancake Breakfast while the other does the Spaghetti Dinner. Both are great money makers. It's based on what you have locally that can help in the way of food donations. (for example the local Spaghetti factory donates ALL the sauce while the apple factory donates ALL the juice for the breakfast.)
around here pancake breakfasts are done way too much. Spagheti dinners are great if you can catch them at right time. Great times are parent teacher conf. and such where parents are swamped and like the idea that they can have a healthy meal cooked for them cheaper than fast food joint.
Neither are great money makers, but we do decent with a pancake breakfast on Scout sunday with many of the Congregation coming in before or after service. Otherwise whether you are on a busy road or not, we just don't have a draw from the outside public..
When I was a youth my fathers church ran a great ice cream social.. I wouldn't even know how to replicate it.. They would make about 5 different types of homemade icecream and I guess the farmers in the area donated the milk, and they had large icecream churners that they hooked somehow to tractors that would crank it.. They made some before the social started, but they kept making it all the way through the social..
The church was in the middle of no where out in the corn fields in Illinois, but when the social ran, they pulled in hundreds and hundreds, including the Amish who came in their buggies... You didn't think there were that many people in a 20 mile radius due to it just being miles and miles of corn fields.. Due to the equipment, I could never reproduce it.. But, great memories.
Now my church as a youth had a fantastic chicken dinner cooked on open pits, some secret recipe that was great, and I never found any other place, it wasn't bbq sauce, I am guessing more of a burbon sauce of some kind.. That also had a great turnout from the community.
This discussion is making me hungry. I think the secret is learning what the imputs, outputs, and profits are. We have done some fundraisers where scout families were putting in so much free time and stuff it really would be cheaper, faster, and easier just to charge everyone another $10.
If the goal is high visiblity rather than make money we do some of those too and we try to at least break even. I think there is a great benefit to the Troop for the fellowship of doing a shared task.
So the goals can be:
(1) Making the most money (profit not gross)
(2) Having a group project.
(3) Advertising the unit (goodwill)\
(4) Teaching the boys values.
Deaf Scouter has a great point, the right type of in-kind donation can make all the difference.
our troop does a spaghetti supper this was 36th annual and our 2nd biggest with over 1700 tickets sold $6.00 adults $4.00 12yr and under dine in or carry out. Start cooking pasta at 6:00 am and start serving 4pm. We make our own sauce and serve garlic bread celery/carrots and choice of dessert. The split is 60% to the troop and 40% to the scout.. Sell 25 get a custom neckerchief slide and a ticket for a $50 drawing every 25 additional get a $5 bonus and another ticket. Sell over 100 tickets and get a special prize.