Alpha Delights uses track lighting to highlight products in showcases. Corrective lighting in display cases maintains products' optimal color.
Lighted tiles throughout LaSalle Bakery enhance the salmon-colored walls, while pendant lighting provides sales staff with efficient lighting at the cash registers.
Choose the right lights around uncovered food
Recessed flood bulbs in 6-in. sockets are the most popular ceiling lighting in retail locations. But if open trays of bakery products are displayed under these bulbs, the food needs to be protected in case of bulb breakage. In many areas, specially approved bulbs are required by food-inspection agencies. Ask your contractor for help in selecting the right ones.
Is poor display lighting drying your Danish?
You want to draw attention to your products with lighting, but make sure it is the right lighting. Radiation steals moisture from baked products¯particularly flaky pastry, icing and cheesecakes. Ask about lighting filters that lower the ultraviolet, infrared and visible-spectrum radiation. Filtered light can translate into extended shelf-life on your products.
Walk into your bakery with a customer's eyes. What is the first thing you notice? Hopefully, it is something that makes a customer want to buy, such as the comforting aroma of fresh bread or the sight of colorful pastries glowing from a bright showcase. Customers should not only be planning to taste good things when they come into your bakery, they should also be seeing, smelling, hearing and touching things that make them want to taste more. Two things that have the greatest impact on a bakery's ambience, aside from cleanliness, are good lighting and attractive displays.
The importance of lighting
While Mike Manni, co-owner with his wife, Cheryl, of LaSalle Bakery, Providence, R.I., was planning a second location this past summer, his architects strongly suggested hiring a lighting consultant. At a cost of about $3,500, Manni admits that he was skeptical. But the results were worth the price. A drop ceiling over the showcases and coffee area features recessed spotlighting that draws attention directly to products in the showcases, while stylish pendant light fixtures add an elegant touch to the two register areas.
Lighted tiles placed throughout the rest of the shop's high ceiling adds to the overall brightness of the facility and enhances the warm salmon color on the walls.
Manni also brought the dynamism of natural light into the bakery by installing enormous front windows and a glass entryway. At his architect's suggestion, Manni chose energy-efficient glass, at triple the cost of ordinary glass, to help regulate the bakery's temperature against seasonal highs and lows.
Josh Allen, president of Companion Baking Co., St. Louis, Mo., agrees about the importance of lighting. When designing his second wholesale production facility, Allen explains that lighting was a big part of the company's considerations, especially since the site in Kansas City, Mo., did not allow for natural light. "Our original St. Louis facility has all fluorescent lighting, but we wanted lights for night workers, like the drivers, to come in and feel comfortable."
The new facility's architect suggested incandescent ceiling lighting reminiscent of Las Vegas. "Even though we don't have natural light, it makes the facility nicer to work in and easier to clean," he says.
In DePere, Wis., Mary Pappas, owner of Alpha Delights Bakery and Cafè, considered the emotions associated with lighting when designing her now three-yearold location. To achieve different moods and draw attention at various points, Pappas settled on a combination of three types of lighting in the bakery.
Recessed lights in the ceiling keep the overall bakery bright and well lit. The lighting over the tables and chairs is enhanced with antique ceiling globes. Pappas did not want to use spotlights, so she chose angled track lighting that follows the contour of the display cases. The lights not only provide depth and dimension, they also highlight the bakery's products.
"When we were designing the store, I knew what I wanted people's eyes to be drawn to when they stepped in, the beauty of our showiest pastries. And the eye is drawn to where the lighting is placed," Pappas says.
Making the most of showcase glamour
If lighting encourages the eye to find your products, house them someplace attractive. Refrigerated display cases are an exception to the notion that bakery equipment must be purely functional, and this is one instance where a bit of glamour and design chic is called for.
Before purchasing new displays, decide whether you prefer low-or high-volume displays. With low-volume cases, bakers can show more variety of products up front, and keep the rest of the products in another temperature-controlled setting in the production area. The result is cases that look attractive with fewer holes. On the other hand, busy employees may find themselves challenged by the need for constant display vigilance.
Within the cases, it is important to keep things bright and beautiful. At Alpha Delights Bakery & Cafè, a variety of displayware of varying heights is used, particularly glass cake stands and silver trays.
"The sparkle coming off the glass is tremendous," Pappas says. "Plastic trays, in our current social mentality, imply something disposable. We wanted to treat our products as part of an enduring experience."
Pappas also uses color-corrective bulbs in the cases to bring out the best vibrancy and color in the products.
At the 2,000-sq.-ft. Companion Bakehouse & Cafè in Clayton, Mo., Josh Allen says one issue is that the products in showcases are similar in color. "The problem at the Bakehouse & Cafè," he says, "is that so much of what we sell is brown: croissants, breads, muffins, Danish." To break up the monochromatic color scheme, employees place iced cookies and other more colorful items in strategic locations. Colorful cloths, flowers and decorative platters are other ways of attracting attention.
Remodeling can range from freshening up flooring and paint to becoming more space efficient or employee-friendly in the production area. Dawn Westhoff, chief financial officer of Scott's Pastry Shoppe Inc., Middleton, Wis., advises bakers to understand why they're considering a remodel. "Ask yourself one question," she says. "'How can I create more sales by taking this step?'"
At Scott's Pastry Shoppe, the original location, family-owned and operated for more than 20 years, has become fairly maximized in terms of space and sales. Fifteen years ago, the family purchased the space next door and remodeled entirely, but the location has limited parking.
So, the family expanded by opening a second, 1,600-sq.-ft. location in downtown Madison. "There was a space down the street that was 4,000 sq. ft., but when you're renting, you need to look at things and ask 'How much do I need to sell by square foot to break even?' The big place was too big for us from that standpoint," Westhoff says.
Allen had a similar experience. He has expanded Companion Baking's original location five times since 1993 to keep up with the company's rapid growth (from 1,000 lbs. to 10,000 lbs. per day). It is presently 15,000 sq. ft. When he built a second 11,000-sq.-ft. location across the state, Allen used the experience gained from the first location.
"It's a more cavernous location, and we'll fill it with more equipment and people as we grow," Allen says. Because the new space has been designed for maximum efficiency, the production flow allows employees there to "do the same volume with 11,000 sq. ft. as we can with 15,000 [sq. ft. in the original St. Louis location]," Allen notes.
Little efficiencies mean a lot when the bakery is your daily workplace, he adds. "We have the floor drains where we need them now. The pastries aren't too far away from the dish room. It's been a pleasure to have free rein inside this 'big white box.'"
After examining your own bakery remodeling needs, an entire remodel may be not be possible or necessary. But, improved lighting or updated showcases may be the boost your bakery needs to drive more sales.
Keep showcases condensation-free
Any refrigerated display case can produce condensation during-high heat and humidity. Here are some suggestions for beating condensation:
When buying new equipment:
When dealing with an existing store: