PDA

View Full Version : Anybody here own a bakery or know someone who does?


EllenFrasier
07-24-2011, 09:33 PM
My daughter makes awesome cakes, cupcakes and cookies. I make a great pie. She is struggling trying to find her niche in life as am I. I have been toying with the idea of us opening a bakery selling cakes, pies, etc. but before I even mention it to her, I wanted to get some feedback from someone who actually owns a bakery or pastry shop.
Thanks!:cutie:

java
07-24-2011, 09:43 PM
My SIL went to culinary school to become a pastry chef. She started an online cookie business. It grew like mad. It grew too fast- she was highlighted by Theknot.com as a gift idea and that was the end of her business. She couldn't keep up.

I have another friend, here in NJ, that sells pies out of her home. It was fine until the state found out about her. Then she had to find a commercial kitchen. That is the expensive part. She lucked out and was able to use a kitchen at a local temple. They rented it to her one night a week. She stays up all night. She LOVES what she does so it's not work for her.
But she has very little overhead. It's not enough money to support herself but it's nice addtional money.

Do you live in an area with Farmer's Markets? That might be a good place to try out your stuff first before you take on the expense of a store front. Check out ordinances in your state and see if you can sell stuff made in your home kitchen? That would be my step one.

Good luck. I love trying other people's baked goods. I bought a fantastic Duck Fat ciabatta at the farmers market today. MMMMM! I suggested they find someone for sweets. I would love to buy that.

The bakery in town went out of business. The overhead killed them.

Good luck to you!

prncess674
07-24-2011, 09:53 PM
Agree that I wouldn't start with a storefront. I would start with cooking for friends and such to see if you can even sell your creations. A friend I went to high school with sells cakes for baby/bridal showers, birthdays, retirement parties etc and does a nice side business. If you want to get into a legal business you will need to have a separate kitchen. You can add a separate kitchen to your house that is just for commercial purposes. This would be more prudent than trying to rent store front space.

lizabu
07-24-2011, 10:15 PM
Laws vary from city to city. Some cities will allow you to bake at home and sell it. Others will not. Some cities will allow it if you have a seperate kitchen. Other places say no way and make you use a commercial kitchen. I live in a place that requires a commercial kitchen. I have a friend who opened a small store front and it cost a lot of money. The business lasted a few months before it folded. My recommendations would be to first find out the rules in your city. If you can bake at home that is the most risk free way to try it out. Getting a job at a bakery or in a kitchen in the pastry department may be a way to find out if she really likes it. Theres a huge difference between baking the occassional cake and baking dozens of cakes daily every single day. If she ends up hating it at least theres nothing lost where as if you sink a lot of money into this venture and she winds up hating it what will you do? Maybe she can get an apprenticeship somewhere to learn how to bake in large batches and see how she likes it. You have to be very strong to work in a bakery because the bags of sugar and flour are huge and the pans are huge too. It takes time to build up all that muscle.

mnrose
07-24-2011, 10:19 PM
My BIL owns a bakery, and it is quite successful. That being said, it is a LOT of work. He works nearly 7 days a week, and a lot of hours (starts at 3 am...people want FRESH baked goods with their morning coffee...and you don't get that by sleeping in.). It has taken him years to work the business into being a good money maker. The real money isn't in retail (although that certainly helps, and is a necessary component of getting a "name" that people are interested in), but wholesale. He sells to specialty markets, and many restaurants. The retail business is very unpredictable...hard for him to figure out how much of each product to make. Some days, he sells out early, and some days, he ends up with a lot left over (which he gives to his family...lucky us...or donates to food shelves....but still it is product for which he gets no money). So, for him, the only way it works is the much more reliable and predictable wholesale market.

You have to have a passion for it. There's no way that anyone works that hard for that much money (it's good money, but nothing that couldn't be made working a lot of other jobs with less hours) unless it's a passion. My BIL has that passion. He sells an incredible product that is always first rate.

bumbershoot
07-24-2011, 10:22 PM
My SIL went to culinary school to become a pastry chef. She started an online cookie business. It grew like mad. It grew too fast- she was highlighted by Theknot.com as a gift idea and that was the end of her business. She couldn't keep up.


That's so sad.


No matter what, know your laws, have LOTS of money just sitting there, and take it slow.

Food places just eat money for quite a long time, long before they are profitable, and you have to be prepared for that. Any business does the same. I had a business with absolutely no capital, and I was gone inside of 5 years. A friend, along with two other friends, opened up a custom dress/gown shop inside another friend's business, all three of them had husbands with good jobs who happily supported their dream, but first personality clashes got rid of one, and then the other two, right about the 5 year mark, just didn't have the money to keep the place open (the second friend got a divorce which helped the demise of the store). They still have a website and make dresses for people, but they don't have a store anymore.

It takes lots and lots of money to have your own place. We actually still bemoan the loss of a place we never had a chance to go to...called Pie-When You Need It. AWESOME name. But they had limited hours. We never drove by when they were actually open. So...the name wasn't the truth. Don't use a name like that unless you're prepared to go 24/7/365.

Best of luck to you!

MichelleinMaine
07-24-2011, 11:22 PM
Check with your local SCORE office for realistic information on starting a business. A good product is only a small part of it, it's the taxes, regulations, marketing, overhead, insurance etc that does people in starting a business. Someplace like SCORE can give you an idea what you're really in for.

As said, check into the health regulations of possibly needing a commericial kitchen. (Some churches will rent theirs out during the week. I also have a friend with a meals prep business that will rent hers out on days she is closed. Another idea.)

You also really need to consider if this is something you want to do day in/day out. I had a photography business for a while. I love taking pictures, but like anything, it got old once it was "work" everyday. I'm much happier not doing it for a living and loving my hobby again.

Kitzka
07-24-2011, 11:37 PM
Other people have posted some wonderful advise and I would say before you even bring it up to her check out what is in the area (25 min in each direction) first. In the town next to us there's a WONDERFUL bakery with best cupcakes, dessert bars, cakes etc. They were in business a year but couldn't pay the bills so had to shut down.

I also have a friend whose family owned a well known bakery in the area. It was in business for 45 years. They just had to close the doors due to the economy and the cost being too much. Luckily their bread is TDF and a bread wholesaler bought the rights to the bread so the bread will live on but the family bakery will not :(

Lara

powellrj
07-24-2011, 11:53 PM
My grandparents ran a bakery for years. It was both a retail and wholesale operation. Grandpa would start baking at around 9pm and work all night. Its not an easy job, I can remember going down to the bakery to say goodnight to him when we were kids visiting and while it was cool to be able to go up front and pick out a hot donut, it was brutal in the back with all the ovens and fryers and mixers going. Even as a kid I knew it was hard work!

My dad got sick and couldn't work and needed a new source of income so they started a small storefront bakery in a college area that sold my grandparents baked goods. I can remember my mom saying it was tough to making a living off of .30 donuts selling one at a time. She took cake decorating lessons and added decorated cakes and cookies. It lasted a year because rent and utilities pretty much ate up anything they made. Since we kids had already left home, they turned their family room into a commercial kitchen and mom kept her cake decorating business. While it was a nice little extra coming in, they couldn't live off what she made. They had to buy a van to deliver cakes which was another expense. That business lasted 10 or 15 years until mom had to find a job that came with health insurance. She went to a large grocery chain and decorated cakes for them for several years until carpel tunnel left her unable to work.

I rambled on and on, but the bottom line is its a hard way to make a living. If you have someplace that would be willing to sell your products for you like a resturant or farmers market that would be a better place to start than to invest in your own.

Pea-n-Me
07-25-2011, 12:30 AM
From the OP I take it you are talking about a commercial bakery so that is what I'll talk about.

PP's have touched on a lot of the salient points. That it is hard work with long hours, and working in a bakery is a lot different than making baked goods in a kitchen. Flour and other ingredients come in enormous bags and they need to be stored, lifted and dumped into large commercial mixers. Much of the work is repetitive, like scooping a large mixer full of muffin mix into pans, or catching bread coming off the sheeter, putting it on pans, placing pans on racks, then in proof boxes, then in ovens, then bagging, etc. Product needs to be fresh and ready for morning customers, so often your work starts during the night. And yes, it gets extremely hot around the ovens, which may be nice in the winter but excruciating in the summer (vice versa for the freezer, lol).

I think what many people don't realize is how high utility bills are in a bakery. That is what's led to the demise of many bakeries of old. It is not uncommon for a small bakery to have utility bills in the thousands each month. Ovens, freezers, refrigerators, proof boxes, mixers, lights, etc, all use a lot of power. You need to factor in paying those costs with other operational costs such as paying your employees, ingredient costs, insurances (including workmen's comp), vehicles, label maker, boxes and plastic containers, nutritional statements, etc. And generally all these must be paid before you pay yourself.

Additionally, you will have to pass city and state inspections before you're issued a permit to operate, and regularly therafter, usually unannounced. This means that the bakery has to be in tip top shape with no issues of cleanliness or disrepair anywhere. They will get you for things like peeling paint or water puddles, rags in the sink, dried product on bowls and mixers, improperly stored product, temperatures being off, and a host of other issues. In other words, the bakery has to be impeccibly clean and regulated at all times. Your employees will ideally have Serve Safe certification as well. Someone getting sick from one of your baked goods can put you out of business. Regulations vary from place to place but in many areas, if you serve food there (ie tables), you need to have a bathroom available to the public.

Remember you will be competing with supermarket and wholesale club bakeries so your products will need to stand out from them if people are going to pay more and go out of their way to come to you. Don't disappoint them with anything stale or overbaked, etc. Word of mouth will filter out fast. Anyone working with you has to follow the rules and formulas so you have a consistent product every time.

I agree with the poster who said your DD might want to get a job in a bakery first to see if it's even something she wants to pursue further.

I don't mean to be discouraging but this is the reality. It's why there aren't too many small bakeries left anymore. A lot of the old bakers have retired now as well (and we have "pastry chefs" instead of bakers). The question is, is there anyone left who wants to do the grunt work?

Salmonella outbreak closes RI bakery: http://www.wpri.com/dpp/news/local_news/northwest/defuscos-bakery-ordered-to-stay-closed

StitchFanZ
07-25-2011, 01:08 AM
If you both truly love to bake, can you start by baking for someone or delivering a given product to a specialty restaurant or store? The reason I ask is running a business is tough and may take you away from what you really want to do. i.e. My mom ran a very successful restaurant for many years - she was not a great cook - but she was a great business women and knew how to hire and keep good cooks happy. I always chuckle when people want to own a restaurant just because the like to cook.

Alexander
07-25-2011, 09:18 AM
DH's best friend started out as the head baker in our local grocery store. He worked there a few years and built-up his talents. He evaluated the need in our community and since we didn't have a bakery, he started one. Bought a little run-down house, gutted it and built the bakery. It is a tiny little place, with about 90% of it being the kitchen area and 10% the store front.

He is super, super busy all of the time. His only day off is Monday. Cannot be Sat. or Sun. because that is the day everybody needs to pick up their cakes for b'days, weddings, graduations, etc. Other than the local grocery store bakery, he is the only true bakery in our city. He has 3 or 4 other people who work for him and they do all of the baking, and he just does the decorating now.

All of his stuff is outstanding and his cakes are beautiful. His wife wants him to now retire so they can enjoy life (kids are grown and moved away) but he doesn't feel that he can leave the bakery. It is hard to get him to take a vacation. He holds himself to being personally accountable for every single item that leaves that bakery.

eliza61
07-25-2011, 10:00 AM
First, my family owned a successful NYC restaurant for 30 years before selling it (it was my grandfathers and uncles and none of the kids where interested in continuing).

I'm a baker that started off making cakes/pies/cookies for gifts, then it grew to me baking for church members and bake sales. I'm going to school part time to get formal training.

Have either of you worked with John q public? lol. girl, let me tell you some horror stories.

1) Brides who want cakes that rival Lady katherine and Prince williams but oh they want it for $19.99
2) Customers who order cakes and then of course don't pick them up or bother to call you to cancel.
3) moms who saw an episode of cake boss and now also want a replica of Hogwarts for their kids birthday (oh and yes, they too only want to pay $9.99)
4) Customers who order a small 9inch cake and the morning of the event call and ask could you possibly make it "a little bigger". enough to cover an extra 40 people who "unexpectedly" decided they could come.

eliza61
07-25-2011, 10:14 AM
goofy computer issues. sorry

Mrsdennison
07-25-2011, 10:35 AM
I live in a very rural area. Our top jobs seem to be coal miner, farmer, or teacher. In the last year I have noticed a lot of homemakers posting pictures of cakes on Facebook. Then next thing you know they are making a page for their business. I know of two that actually have stores. Now they haven't been in business long so time will tell if they survive.

I think one will, she has the clients to keep her in business. Her prices seem high to me. However, I'm use to walmart or kroger cake. We will probably try her out this year at some point.

Just be careful, I think shows like cake boss have turned everybody into a baker.

Mrsdennison

m&m's mom
07-25-2011, 11:12 AM
There is a new bakery that opened in an outdoor shopping mall near me. I first noticed it when my local friends "Friended" it on FB.
Next time I was at the center, my DD's and I checked it out.
The owner is the only employee. She said she was the head pastry chef for a wonderful restaurant in Dallas for 14 years. She said she gets to work at 7:00am and starts baking. She opens at 10:00am and does all cash register etc herself. She had maybe 6 types of cupcakes and 3 cookies. I wished her well and hope she succeeds but that is a tough job for 1 person.

Pea-n-Me
07-25-2011, 02:07 PM
A couple of other things to add to my above post.

I forgot to mention Monthly Extermination to my list of operating expenses. Yes, critters LOVE all that great tasting flour and sugar and raisins and nuts and such (and sometimes even travel in with ingredients! :eek: )

And to add to the "word travels fast" part of my post, friendly help is a must. People are willing to pay more for a good product but draw the line when they encounter crappy attitudes.


He is super, super busy all of the time. His only day off is Monday. Cannot be Sat. or Sun. because that is the day everybody needs to pick up their cakes for b'days, weddings, graduations, etc. Other than the local grocery store bakery, he is the only true bakery in our city. He has 3 or 4 other people who work for him and they do all of the baking, and he just does the decorating now.

All of his stuff is outstanding and his cakes are beautiful. His wife wants him to now retire so they can enjoy life (kids are grown and moved away) but he doesn't feel that he can leave the bakery. It is hard to get him to take a vacation. He holds himself to being personally accountable for every single item that leaves that bakery.
And this is why he's successful! Good for him!

running a business is tough and may take you away from what you really want to do. i.e. My mom ran a very successful restaurant for many years - she was not a great cook - but she was a great business women and knew how to hire and keep good cooks happy. I always chuckle when people want to own a restaurant just because the like to cook.
Another great point. With all that it takes to run a successful bakery, what often happens is that the owner takes on a "managerial" role and hires others to do the daily baking and cleaning, etc. (So much for loving to bake!) Unfortunately, good help is hard to find and pay is an issue. Many bakeries can't afford to pay much more than minimum wage so they wind up with less than stellar, transient help. And to expect all the things that go into what's necessary to have a really good bakery, you need really good help.

Like Eliza, I'll give you some examples of things that can happen when you have help that has no clue and/or doesn't care what they're doing.

- $1000 worth of product on a rack ruined in one shot due to overproofing (too long in the proof box).
- Thanksgiving pie orders set aside given out to "walk ins" on Thanksgiving morning by someone unfamiliar with the process but trying to "help out". :scared1:
- A white wedding cake with RED frosting delivered to a restaurant but moved to the kitchen by restaurant staff next to the stove, and yup, you guessed it - MELTING! :scared1:
- Help calling in "sick" regularly leaving one baker to do the work of two or more people.

And on and on...

I should also add that if you're a "slow" type worker, you may wind up having many very late days. Cause the day ends when the work is done, not when the clock stops, and that includes not only the baking, but the cleaning. Lights off when product is finished, stored, and everything cleaned and prepped for the next day. One really needs to keep up the pace when working in a commercial bakery.

a1tinkfans
07-25-2011, 03:20 PM
From personal experience (tho not a bakery)
Businesses are a lot of :
CASH
TIME
ENERGY
PASSION
CASH, again!
DEDICATION
Owning a business is WORK, work work.....

most businesses fail for a reason, a business plan is paramount, tax prep, rules, laws and ordinances...lots to consider when "thinking" of opening a business.
I say, see if you both can sell what you make now, to friends, neighbors, try and get some orders at a local market....good luck......:wizard:

DSNY4ever
07-25-2011, 04:01 PM
Be prepared to work a lot of long hours...early mornings, all weekends and holidays (because that is when people want cakes/treats!).

You have gotten a lot of good advice already. If you try to start from home be careful because everyone thinks you can give them a free/cheap cake and the time you spend on detailed cakes just isn't worth it! People don't understand how much work it is to make a wedding cake.

I would love to be able to run a cake business from my house, but unfortunately the laws in California require me to have a separate kitchen w/a separate entry etc. That will never happen. So for now I just make cakes for close friends and family that I am willing to make for no real profit (just for the love of it) :)

sk!mom
07-25-2011, 04:16 PM
A friend of mine started a small bakery with her mom about 4 years ago. For the first 3 years they rented kitchen space in an old bowling alley. Finally last Summer, they were able to move to a small store front with a commercial kitchen.

They actually don't work super long hours but they only have a couple of specialties that they bake a small amount of every day. Every thing else is by order only. Over time they've built up a lot of faithful customers. It's still just the two of them unless they have a huge order and then they have a couple of friends who will come in and help out. Taking vacations is probably the most difficult part.

3pletprincesses
07-25-2011, 04:17 PM
my parents own a bakery and although it is really successfull none of us the children want anythign to do with it. My parents average 60 hours week each at their bakery to make it work and work 7 days a week. it's really demanding. I love to bake cakes and love to decorate but never in a million years would I embark in that journey. My sibblings all resent the place as my parents never travelled with us and there's no such thing has family vacation. My parents last vacation was 21 years ago to put into perpective. lately my parents have been thinking about closing the place as none of us want it. They said clients are getting more and more demanding and cheaper. They want big but want to pay very little. Shows like Cake boss have helped some and made it hard on other.

britfish
07-25-2011, 08:09 PM
Gluten free products seem to be a big market right now if you are considering products to bake!

mickeyschickie
07-26-2011, 08:15 AM
I supervise the bakeries for a family that owns 7 supermarkets... worked in every position in those bakeries for the last 16 years...over those years, I've never once thought that I would want to own my own bakery/business. I've been offered opportunities with different spaces, people, etc. One thing that has deterred me from this is just how mean the general public is, your daughter probably puts her whole heart and soul into each project she works on and it could be absolutely wonderful...but a customer can bring that crashing down in seconds...they don't like the color, size, border, writing, etc. sometimes, it's just not what they pictured...if you open any kind of business with someone that is artistic and places a huge part of their self-worth in what they do, they better grow some thick skin, I've seen so many talented bakers and decorators crushed by comments/complaints from customers.

bumbershoot
07-26-2011, 01:54 PM
Gluten free products seem to be a big market right now if you are considering products to bake!

But if you're going to go into that, you have to be *serious* about it. Because one mis-step and you could make someone seriously ill.

...if you open any kind of business with someone that is artistic and places a huge part of their self-worth in what they do, they better grow some thick skin, I've seen so many talented bakers and decorators crushed by comments/complaints from customers.

And never ever let them look at cakewrecks.com. (unless it's to learn what NOT to do!) And..except for on Sundays, when they post "Sunday Sweets", the gorgeous things they've come across.

mirage0306
07-26-2011, 02:44 PM
I just wanted to jump in here--my DH used to be an artisan bread baker. He did not own the bakery he worked in, but I can tell you he worked long and very hard hours. He worked overnights so the bread was fresh every morning at 7 am, and the work was very difficult. He eventually switched careers because it was so taxing.

I wanted to echo what a PP said, as well: The moneymaking side of bakeries is not the retail storefront side. It's wholesale. If my DH ever told me he wanted to start baking bread again and wanted to start a business, I am sure we would only do the wholesale portion. The retail storefront is expensive to run and maintain.

Teresa Pitman
07-26-2011, 03:41 PM
I have a relative who does a bakery at the local Farmer's Market, which runs twice a week. He is required to use a commercial kitchen that meets the city's regulations, so you would want to check into that. Only selling two days a week gives him more flexibility, and he is doing quite well. Many days he ends up leaving early because he's completely sold out! It would certainly be a great way to test the market for your products.

Teresa

disykat
07-26-2011, 04:52 PM
We have several commercial kitchens in our area that rent time to small business that do mostly farmers markets, craft fairs, etc. I think that'd be a great way to go.

crisi
07-26-2011, 05:45 PM
But if you're going to go into that, you have to be *serious* about it. Because one mis-step and you could make someone seriously ill.




Its also really hard to make quality GF products and sell enough at a price point that works to keep a store in business. The Twin Cities has seen several GF bakeries go under - or at least stop retail operations.

Belle5
07-26-2011, 06:49 PM
OP--I would love to read your opinion now that you've read all of this advice from experienced business owners/relatives of business owners. BTW, I think you were so wise to post this question before talking about a business with your daughter. FWIW, I would be totally scared-off after reading these replies!