An Oyster Bay, New York bakery found a new market by starting a delivery service to boats in the local harbor.
Boaters often joke that their crafts are floating pits into which they have to constantly throw money.
Kieran Shea, owner of BayKery Cafe in Oyster Bay, N.Y., is hoping to grab some of that money. He started a dock side delivery service to serve the 500-plus boat harbor in Oyster Bay. He delivers sandwiches and sweetgoods to the famished seafarers via dinghy, or on special occasions, his 19-ft. classic 1957 Chris Craft.
“My reasoning for doing it is simply that somebody should be doing it,” Shea says. “We are right down the street from the bay, and we are operating seven days per week anyway. We have the means to get product to them; there was no reason for us not to do it.”
Shea got hooked on the idea in spring of 2007, while BayKery Cafe was still less than a year old. A customer stopped by one evening to buy pastries for breakfast the next morning. When Shea asked her why she wasn't picking up fresh in the morning, she explained she was staying on the boat, and this was her one trip ashore to buy supplies.
“I asked her if she knew we delivered,” Shea says. “Of course, I hadn't even considered it prior to that, but it made sense.”
Shea put his money where his mouth was, and floated up to the woman's boat the next morning with fresh pastries. As he was leaving, someone on another boat asked if he sold sandwiches. The potential clear, Shea experimented with the delivery service for the rest of the year.
“The way I see it, the boating world is pretty small,” he says. “There are only so many ports and stops between Long Island and Connecticut, so everyone knows one another and they chat a lot, so the word of mouth is great.”
By the spring of 2008, the delivery service was establishing itself as a viable part of the business. Shea offers several different product packages, such as breakfast, lunch, and specially-made, compact orders for racing boats. The most popular is a sort of picnic for the high seas. This includes a layer of ice (a valuable commodity on a boat), a couple bags of the chicken salad for which the BayKery Cafe has become known, a sealed bag with fresh, sliced bread, and topped with another sealed bag of sweetgoods or pastries.
Shea has yet to incorporate a delivery charge or special pricing plan for his service. He is using the 2008 boating season to gauge interest and make sure his services are known in the area boating circuit before imposing any added costs. Shea recognizes that, as with any delivery, by land or by sea, fuel costs and labor will eventually have to be considered. He plans to have a more exact pricing scheme ready by next season. And he'll have to, as he feels that he has barely scratched the surface of the boat-side bakery delivery.
Shea established a relationship with the Oyster Bay Marine Center, an on-the-dock marine station that services more than half of the boats in the harbor and acts as his on-the-bay home-base. But he has yet to reach a number of boats. Various mooring fields in addition to the harbor are popular, and plenty of boats pull in and drop anchor just to use the shelter of the bay.
“I'm just trying to keep up for now, but down the road, I could have a couple of boats out there delivering,” he says. “While they are on their boats, people are a captive audience.”