An independent bakery has to be better......

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tmiles
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2012/08/30 10:58:41 (permalink)

An independent bakery has to be better......

When I had a travel agency one of my customers was a retired, mid level, Fortune 500 executive. He worked part time, 2 to 6 AM at a chain store bakery.....a job he loved. He was a guy who had a top biz school MBA, at a time most folks didn't even know what an MBA was. Nobody knew he had much experience or education. He just baked frozen bread dough, made cake and doughnuts from a mix, and watched.
 
He was of the opinion that if one wanted to open an independent fruit stand, or bakery, one had to be very, very good, or really, really, uninformed.  Chain stores do a good, and consistent job in these departments, have low prices, and the customer is already in the store. 
 
I have, over the summer, visited 4 independent bakeries, in the hopes of discovering a gem to post about.  Three provided stale product on my first visit, and the 4th (the newest), sold me a stale eclair on my second visit. I don't plan a return trip to any.
 
I feel for a small independent business, but I will not be returning to any of those places soon. Panera (a chain) does a better job than any of the above 4 bakeries, by far. I'll keep returning to Crown Bakery (Worcester Massachusetts), and Wright's Dairy Farm Bakery just over the border in RI. Both do a superior job, and both have so many customers that the product has no time to get stale. 
post edited by tmiles - 2012/08/30 11:18:47
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    Tony Bad
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/08/30 13:29:02 (permalink)
    You could substitute almost any business for "bakery" and the same would apply. Sadly, many small businesses like to blame the "big guy" rather than admit their own failings. 
    #2
    mar52
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/08/30 13:37:56 (permalink)
    I've always wondered why donut shops all have basically the same donuts.
     
    Branch out... be creative and become a destination stop.
    #3
    Foodbme
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/08/30 18:43:09 (permalink)
    mar52
    I've always wondered why donut shops all have basically the same donuts.
    Branch out... be creative and become a destination stop.

    Sounds good but reality says the 80/20 rule applys.
    80% of the sales come from 20% of the products.
    #4
    mar52
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/08/30 19:57:22 (permalink)
    Glazed twists and jelly donuts? 
    #5
    rumaki
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/08/31 13:27:08 (permalink)
    I certainly agree that an independent bakery may not be very good for all the reasons listed.  But I guess we're fortunate here in Minnesota -- as the Roadfood listings attest -- in having some truly excellent independent bakeries (I love Bloedow's in Winona).
     
    Our upscale grocery chain here, Lunds and Byerly's, has a bakery section. I would rate it as above average, but not really outstanding.  Once is a while I get a craving for sour cherry pie.  They often have individual slices (leftovers, I guess) for sale. Even allowing for the fact that the pie is probably a day old (or they wouldn't be cutting it up into slices), I have always been disappointed in it.
     
    When I lived in upstate New York , I loved the donuts and "fry cakes" from Wegman's.  As a young associate in a law firm there in the early 1980s, one of my weekly tasks was to go to Wegman's to pick up the donuts for the litigation department meetings -- and getting exactly what each of the partners specified was sort of an initiation ritual. 
     
    When I was growing up in Indianapolis, Roselyn bakeries were the local "chain" bakers of choice in our family.  Their pies, cupcakes, custard puffs, sweet rolls, etc. were really good for a big commercial bakery, and were the expected choice for Girl Scout meetings and grade school classroom birthday parties (before serving that kind of thing was outlawed).  They were absolutely consistent -- you knew exactly what you would get every time.  But in the 1990s (long after I'd moved away), Roselyn kept getting shut down for health code violations, and then went out of business.  I believe one of the grocery chains -- Kroger, or maybe Marsh -- bought some of their recipes and still manufacture some of them for distribution in the grocery stores. 
     
    Nowadays, I don't go to the chain bakeries at all, in large part because bakery "treats" are, for me, just that -- an occasional indulgence, not a regular part of my meal.  If I'm going to have them, they have to be top of the line.
    #6
    tmiles
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/08/31 14:19:09 (permalink)
    rumaki

      ................. -- an occasional indulgence, not a regular part of my meal.  If I'm going to have them, they have to be top of the line.

    That is for sure. If you are going to eat a calorie bomb, it should be worth it!!!!
    #7
    mr chips
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/08/31 17:08:49 (permalink)
    Independent bakeries do well here in Portland. Most of the national doughnut places have flamed out. i think our very good high end coffee has led to a demand for high quality baked goods, products that are in abundance in this city.
    post edited by mr chips - 2012/09/22 15:17:45
    #8
    Foodbme
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/09/01 02:48:13 (permalink)
    I went to a good bakery the other day that I hadn't been to in a while. The showcases were practically empty. Previously, they had a wide selection. I asked the owner if they had a really busy day. She said not. She explained that the costs of raw ingredients has gotten so high that she can't afford to make the wide variety because it was cost prohibitive to be throwing out baked good that didn't sell or that weren't as fresh as she liked to keep them. So, now she's down to just her best selling items. She will take special orders with a deposit.
    #9
    love2bake
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/09/03 10:16:21 (permalink)
    It amazes me, sometimes, how marginal places manage to stay in business.  Unless an independent bakery does a good business in wedding and other special occasion cakes and/or has corporate accounts, it is extremely difficult for them to pay the increasing costs of rent, utilities, quality ingredients and labor, and be profitable.  They need to either expand and serve lunch items or get catering contracts or something like that.  It's a tough, very physical business with difficult hours, and all the passion in the world for quality, from-scratch goods, does not often equal success. :(
    #10
    BelleReve
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/09/22 14:05:36 (permalink)
          tmiles - I totally agree with you and had bad experiences with at least 3 independent bakeries, mostly stale products, and sloppy display cases that if the product is fresh, isn't very appetizing.  One problem I had with at least 2 of them, is opening up on time.  If they post a sign that says they are open at 8am -opening at 8:15 or 8:30 doesn't cut it, especially if waiting for them to open will make me late for work.  One bakery is already out of business, no surprise there. 
    #11
    whatnameisnottaken
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/09/22 15:24:40 (permalink)
    I think it all depends on the skill level of the bakery. I've been to many small bakeries that run circles around a Big Box store but there are some bad ones too. In Atlanta we are very lucky. McEntyre's is a bakery in Smyrna that has been around for decades as has Henri's. I will drive out of my way to get to either of these. And speaking of doughnuts, Dutch Monkey Doughnuts in Cumming is SO worth the drive. Again, if you're going to put out a bad product it doesn't matter how good or bad Wally World is (that goes for other businesses besides bakeries).
     
    BTW, non-food related small business owner here for over 20 years
    post edited by whatnameisnottaken - 2012/09/22 15:26:55
    #12
    CCinNJ
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/09/22 15:32:25 (permalink)
    It also depends on the standards of the bakery as well as the high standards set by the other bakeries (if they exist) in the neighborhood.

    Bakeries here are a BIG part of the community and we are certainly fortunate enough to have many of the best here....from bread to pastry.
    #13
    ken8038
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/10/10 14:28:19 (permalink)
    I guess mileage varies in NJ depending where you are. Here in western Union County we have several independent bakeries of several ethnicitys. Unfortunately none of them are very good. I'm not sure who supports them all.
     
    When time permits, I have to drive 15 minutes in one direction for good Italian bread, and 15 minutes in another direction for good rye bread. And I still haven't found decent Pita bread closer than 30 minutes away in North Brunswick.
     
    On the other hand, if I ever wanted (or could afford) a $6 cupcake, Westfield is just a few blocks away.
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    tmiles
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/11/14 11:39:16 (permalink)
    ken8038

    ......
    On the other hand, if I ever wanted (or could afford) a $6 cupcake, Westfield is just a few blocks away.

    A new place in my town charges "only" $2.85 for a superior, average sized, cupcake, sold from a small display at a "hole in the wall" location.  (Queen's Cups in Millbury, Mass). I think she does mostly custom orders, and is not a full bakery......just 6 kinds of different cupcakes, baked fresh each day. Big city, gourmet, treats in a small town is sort of unique, at least around here. I hope that she makes it.  I couldn't get a link to work...........just Google it.
    post edited by tmiles - 2012/11/14 11:45:32
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    Ice Cream Man
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/11/14 16:21:54 (permalink)
    We have a third generation Bakery, I have yet to find better products in any chain, most days you wait in line to get anything they make.
    The best honey dipped donut you will ever have, that's the hardest one to make and taste good except maybe a plain one but who eats them.
    #16
    tmiles
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/11/15 09:41:37 (permalink)
    Ice Cream Man

    We have a third generation Bakery, I have yet to find better products in any chain, most days you wait in line to get anything they make.
    The best honey dipped donut you will ever have, that's the hardest one to make and taste good except maybe a plain one but who eats them.

    So what is the name of this place?? When you say "we", are you an owner, or the lucky citizen of the town where you can buy the best honey dipped donuts? Maybe you don't want Roadfooders adding to the line.
    #17
    Ice Cream Man
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    Re:An independent bakery has to be better...... 2012/11/15 16:13:07 (permalink)
    Just a citizen, the bakery's name is Holtoms Bakery in Erin Ontario.
    Best hamburger buns too. 
    It's really nice to know your products are made fresh every day by someone who cares. Except Monday's they are closed.
    And yes you are right, I should have put their name in my post because these places's are hard to find and deserve to be recognised.
    post edited by Ice Cream Man - 2012/11/15 16:19:24
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