How to open a bakery, or how to open a restaurant? It may sound a very complicated task at first. Especially during these hard times worldwide. But with our experience here at Pastreez, we can guide you through these 4 key steps to open your own bakery.
Is a restaurant business good for you?
The first real question before entering details: Is the bakery or restaurant business good for you? To learn a bit more about that, you should start testing at a smaller scale, before throwing your savings and time away for a life that you wouldn’t like afterwards.
A first step would be to test your skills and passion for the bakery world by starting a culinary school such as Le Cordon Bleu. An intensive program like this one will force you to dive in 100% for a few weeks.
It is a win-win here. Either you will love it, you will be confident with the next steps, and you will also improve your baking skills. Either it’s harder than you thought, or you find it not to your taste as an everyday job, and you will save time and money by not pursuing the project afterwards; either it is a revelation you’ll jump right in.
The good part of doing this as a very first step, is that you don’t have to quit your job to attend culinary school. You can take a few weeks off and then decide if this life is for you or not. If the bakery industry is for you, let’s jump to the next step: Test your minimum viable product.
Test your product. Find your Minimum Viable Product
I am from the startup world. Like I said on the first step, you always want to test at a small scale first. It is the best way to test fast, with less risk, and make moves.
What I mean to test your product, is that for example you wouldn’t sell ice creams in Alaska I guess. Your bakery has to answer a problem in a certain area. You don’t want to open a Macarons Store in Paris as well. There are plenty of them!
At first when I started Pastreez in California, the concept was to build an Authentic French Bakery Online and answer the question we were always asked: Where to find macarons near me. But we did not know what pastry to start first: Will it be crepes, macarons, apple pie, tarte tatin.. So many French pastries! So we attended three famous farmers markets in California: Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Malibu. It was a fun experience that allowed us to see the potential for macarons while making extra money by selling them.
Now that you have your minimum viable product, you can start thinking about the business itself. That is your step #3.
Start your business
Now you are confident that opening a bakery is what you want, and you know what you will start selling first (your MVP). It’s time to talk business.
In the same philosophy, you want to take baby steps. Don’t start making plans on opening a big fat bakery with employees and loans just yet. This is not a project anymore, you have to turn it into a business.
If you haven’t done it yet, now would be a good idea to quit your job if you want to take this to the next level. We are the best version of ourselves when we leave our comfort zone.
The next baby step would be to rent a commercial kitchen by the hour. This is a great way to avoid paying big bucks on rent while you don’t know yet how much you are going to sell.
In Los Angeles, you have plenty of commercial kitchens to rent by the hour. For example there are DTLA Kitchens, Chef’s kitchens, and Amped kitchens. There should be similar commercial kitchens to rent wherever you are in the US, or even worldwide.
If not, there is an alternative. Reach out to a local restaurant or bakery. Your local health department usually authorizes them to share their kitchens spaces for a fee. It might be another win-win here: You would pay them by the hour, while you will be able to rent only when you have orders.
Another great advantage to rent a commercial kitchen space is that you don’t have to purchase expensive tools and appliances. Especially for a bakery, you would need ovens, commercial mixers, racks, pan sheets and so much more. You are saving big bucks here.
Ok so you are now confident with your baking skills, you got your first minimum viable product, you rent a commercial kitchen space, and you start getting orders. Great for you! You can rent the commercial kitchen space as long as you don’t spend more than what you would pay monthly for your own rent. It can get expensive fast if you are here 8 hours a day for the whole month. If it is the case, It’s time to try and find your own bakery place and this is step #4!
Best location for your restaurant or bakery
What is the best location for your restaurant? What is the best location for your bakery? Do you really need to be in a top high traffic location? Oh wait, do you really need a bakery, or a commercial kitchen? It strongly depends on your business model. Let’s dig in.
The first thing you need to know is whether you sell online, in-store or both. At Pastreez, you can buy macarons online exclusively. But customers were always asking where to find the best bakery near me? We solved that problem by adding a physical location in Phelan, California. We accept Pick up for online orders, while still shipping macarons nationwide. I will develop this E-commerce topic in another blog post.
If you were accepting only local orders during your commercial kitchen rental time (step #3), it makes sense to have continuity and get a location close to your audience and customers. The thing is, now that you are confident with your product (MVP) and your customers, you are taking a controlled risk by opening a retail bakery location in the same area.
Of course, top locations will bring more customers but you will end up paying more rent. What I advise is finding a shopping center because there will be walk-ins every day. But make sure to look around for nearby competitors first. The further they are, the better for you!
A commercial kitchen is also a wonderful option if you sell macarons online only, or if you don’t depend on walk-ins. It is easier to maintain and to build up. By avoiding top locations you will get a more economic rent, as well as more space, which means more production capacity. You can even allow pick up at this location to meet local customers. That is the option we took at Pastreez.
There you have it for my 4 key steps on how to open a bakery. Hopefully you found it helpful. Please share and comment on this blog post for any question!