The Baking Blog examines some of the challenges facing new retail bakery owners through the eyes of Emily Day as she opens Flour + Co bakery.
Although the editors of Modern Baking focus most of our attention on the bakeries that have long been in business, the spate of new openings in the past year reminded us just as many are looking to break into the industry for the first time.
One such future bakery owner, Emily Day, has been sharing her experience opening Flour + Co bakery in San Francisco, which will open in 2013. Flour + Co is a modern American bakery that will update classic products, such as biscuits, cookies, cinnamon rolls, pies and pot pies, by introducing all-natural, seasonal and often organic ingredients. Everything will be produced from scratch, and the bakery also will offer simple breakfast and lunch menus, as well as coffee.
Day started blogging in the fall, describing the various parts of her journey to open a bakery, from choosing a location to leasing vs. buying equipment to creating a product line and starting construction.
Over the next few weeks, The Baking Blog will examine some of the challenges facing new retail bakery owners through the eyes of Day. Please leave comments below if you have stories or advice gleaned from your own experiences opening a brick-and-mortar bakery.
This week’s topics: Funding and finding a location
Modern Baking: What have been the scariest obstacles you’ve faced up to this point?
Emily Day: I think the two toughest obstacles have been fundraising and finding the space. Finding the space was just a game of time. I’m not getting any younger and have to hold off on some personal things until the bakery is open and running smoothly (like having a baby), so I felt under the time gun. In fact, I was giving myself until the end of this year to find a space or I was going to really have to reevaluate my priorities.
Fundraising is challenging and my least favorite part of the job. There is no getting around the fact that I need capital to open the bakery and my husband and I can’t fund it all ourselves. So, I decided to ask friends and family to be investors. My husband and I are investing too and I’m filling in the blanks with things like renting equipment (instead of buying), applying for a microloan, trying to win a small business contest, etc. Though asking for money is a challenge, I’ve found that the people who have invested are really excited to be involved, for different reasons. It’s fun for me, too, because I feel like I’m not in this alone and it’s people that are important to me and care about me that will benefit from me opening a successful business. It’s a win-win. It certainly has put me out of my comfort zone though.
MB: How did you select the location for your bakery? What neighborhood will your bakery be in and why did you choose it?
Day: My bakery will be in Lower Nob Hill in San Francisco, just a 10-minute walk from our home. That’s pure luck and wasn’t expected.
Finding the location was one of the toughest parts of this process. Good locations are competitive and can be really expensive, so having a good realtor on my side was important. I had a number of neighborhoods in mind and kept an open mind, plus I decided that I’d be OK finding a space that wasn’t already a restaurant. I knew it would be more expensive to construct, but I don’t have the budget to compete for the existing restaurant spaces (which can require key money).
We looked at lots of different kinds of spaces and I put an offer on a few with no luck. I was out for a walk one day before I was working with a realtor and I saw the space that is now mine. I called about it because it seemed like a neighborhood that was lacking a bakery and I also heard that there was a Trader Joe’s taking over the grocery store across the street. It’s an up-and-coming block, so not the most obvious choice, but I just had a good feeling about it. The realtor told me that they were trying to sell the building, so they weren’t leasing the space. I kept an eye on it and once working with a realtor, she checked on it a few times for me. On the second check back, we found that they had sold the building and were almost ready to find a lessee. So, we got in before it was listed and with some negotiating, it was mine!
Next entry: Leasing vs. buying equipment