Commercial kitchen for cookies?

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Joined Aug 9, 2018
Long story short, I'm going from being a generous home baker to possibly acquiring a building including a 3000 ft restaurant. The plan is to renovate the space mainly for cookie production with a small storefront for pickup orders. I have never worked in a restaurant or bakery and only rented a commercial kitchen for a couple of days. What should I consider when designing the layout of the space? I know I will need a double convection oven for the cookies. Should I also install a normal oven in case I want to add cake/cupcakes to the menu later on? As far as mixers go, I have never tried increasing my recipe to make large batches. I've heard that can be complicated. Any thoughts there? The other option is to buy multiple 7-10 qt mixers and make multiple batches at once.
 
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I mean no offense and I am definitely not trying to rain on your dreams, but, I have the sense from what you have said that you may not fully understand what you are about to get into. There is a vast difference between cooking at home and cooking commercially. The fact that you are considering double ovens and regular ovens as your main baking solutions in your bakery scheme tells me you may not have a good grasp of this difference. If I have misunderstood what you have said, then, I apologize. :)

Since you have never worked in a professional kitchen, I would strongly encourage you to take a job in a professional bakery before jumping into this personally and financially.

Good luck. :)
 
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I mean no offense and I am definitely not trying to rain on your dreams, but, I have the sense from what you have said that you may not fully understand what you are about to get into. There is a vast difference between cooking at home and cooking commercially. The fact that you are considering double ovens and regular ovens as your main baking solutions in your bakery scheme tells me you may not have a good grasp of this difference. If I have misunderstood what you have said, then, I apologize. :)

Since you have never worked in a professional kitchen, I would strongly encourage you to take a job in a professional bakery before jumping into this personally and financially.

Good luck. :)

GREAT ADVISE given. I was taught "One makes a thousand mistakes in a career, its best that its done early and NOT with your life savings".
 
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Joined Aug 9, 2018
I mean no offense and I am definitely not trying to rain on your dreams, but, I have the sense from what you have said that you may not fully understand what you are about to get into. There is a vast difference between cooking at home and cooking commercially. The fact that you are considering double ovens and regular ovens as your main baking solutions in your bakery scheme tells me you may not have a good grasp of this difference. If I have misunderstood what you have said, then, I apologize. :)

Since you have never worked in a professional kitchen, I would strongly encourage you to take a job in a professional bakery before jumping into this personally and financially.

Good luck. :)

No offense here! I was certainly not planning on getting my own location this quickly. The commercial kitchen rental in my area is expensive, only available late evenings and the oven isn't great. I have absolutely zero experience with cooking commercially so you're absolutely right there! This is why I'm asking. It will be cheaper to use my own space rather than renting per hour. Without going into detail, this venture will not be funded from my own savings and I will not be in debt. All I know is that there is a lot of local interest and I need to figure it out quickly. I have had four offers within the past day to display at local events and am trying to make it work. Any suggestions/insight you have are appreciated! As I said, I definitely don't know.
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
Putting aside any issues with transitioning from home baking to commercial the things I would consider would be the flow of the kitchen area and into the storefront if you are going that route. 3000 square feet is a lot of space and you need to decide how much of that will be devoted to the store area along with any seating, bathrooms, merchandise displays, etc. Then how much will be allocated for the kitchen which would depend on how much production you expect to be doing, staffing, equipment needs for particular items, coolers, product receiving areas, office, etc. And while it may seem cheaper to own a space rather then rent, you have to remember you then become the responsible party for buying everything from paper goods to kitchen equipment and the first time a oven breaks or a cooler goes down and you have to shell out that cash to get it fixed as fast as you can you may start to see a lot of hidden costs. If you don't have a large customer base as foot traffic right now maybe you could start by splitting the space up and just using part as a kitchen and renting out the additional space for now. Good luck and hope this helped.
 
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All I know is that there is a lot of local interest and I need to figure it out quickly. I have had four offers within the past day to display at local events and am trying to make it work.

Good ideas keep. If it's going to work in the long-term, it will work as well tomorrow as it does today. You don't need to rush into things.

Do those offers to display at local events involve getting paid or are they just opportunities to spend more money on giving away samples that don't lead to sales?

Without going into detail, this venture will not be funded from my own savings and I will not be in debt.

But someone will, right? Potentially someone who you want to have as a long-term colleague/contact/investor?
 
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Joined Aug 9, 2018
Good ideas keep. If it's going to work in the long-term, it will work as well tomorrow as it does today. You don't need to rush into things.

Do those offers to display at local events involve getting paid or are they just opportunities to spend more money on giving away samples that don't lead to sales?



But someone will, right? Potentially someone who you want to have as a long-term colleague/contact/investor?

You're right! I just worry about people losing interest. The cost to sell at the events is very low and brings a large crowd. I'm getting messages asking if I ship, people wanting to order for holiday gifts etc. I have a lot to think about and wish there were a simple answer.
 
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Better that they lose interest now than after you (or someone) has invested a lot of money into it.
 
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No offense here! I was certainly not planning on getting my own location this quickly. The commercial kitchen rental in my area is expensive, only available late evenings and the oven isn't great. I have absolutely zero experience with cooking commercially so you're absolutely right there! This is why I'm asking. It will be cheaper to use my own space rather than renting per hour. Without going into detail, this venture will not be funded from my own savings and I will not be in debt. All I know is that there is a lot of local interest and I need to figure it out quickly. I have had four offers within the past day to display at local events and am trying to make it work. Any suggestions/insight you have are appreciated! As I said, I definitely don't know.
If you have generated that sort of interest, it may be worth your while to hire or partner with an experienced pastry chef. That way, you can learn and grow your business opportunities at the same time without the time it takes to learn ether the business or the logistics causing you to miss opportunities. :)

Good luck! :)
 
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Joined Jun 28, 2017
When you say "It will be cheaper to use my own space rather than renting per hour" are you considering the cost of the labor that goes into managing/maintaining/licensing the space?

Just talk to the owner of the space you're renting now and drop the $200 it will take to have their oven professionally serviced or look for a better space. Shared spaces with membership options rather than hourly rates are typically way way way more economical (at least where I live). Have you considered all the possible options for where to rent? Churches/synagogues, schools, restaurant kitchen from 3am - 7am.
 
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Can you explain why there is "a lot of local interest"? What is it about your product or you that is causing it? This is one of the main factors you need to define before starting a business. It could be that home baked or my mother's family recipe is attracting attention. So once you start mass producing in a commercial kitchen and packaging with "Nutrition Facts" and a UPC barcode it kind of loses it's charm.

Another point is that, from your other posts, it looks like you don't even have your product down to a science now, and you admit you have zero experience with commercial equipment. How are you going to be able to hit the ground running and produce a uniform product. What kind of volume are you talking about?

It seems all you have going for you is an interest in your product and someone willing to cash in on it by fronting you startup money. Sorry, but I think that person is overestimating your abilities.
 
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.

Can you explain why there is "a lot of local interest"? What is it about your product or you that is causing it? This is one of the main factors you need to define before starting a business. It could be that home baked or my mother's family recipe is attracting attention. So once you start mass producing in a commercial kitchen and packaging with "Nutrition Facts" and a UPC barcode it kind of loses it's charm.

Another point is that, from your other posts, it looks like you don't even have your product down to a science now, and you admit you have zero experience with commercial equipment. How are you going to be able to hit the ground running and produce a uniform product. What kind of volume are you talking about?

It seems all you have going for you is an interest in your product and someone willing to cash in on it by fronting you startup money. Sorry, but I think that person is overestimating your abilities.
 
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Joined Aug 9, 2018
Can you explain why there is "a lot of local interest"? What is it about your product or you that is causing it? This is one of the main factors you need to define before starting a business. It could be that home baked or my mother's family recipe is attracting attention. So once you start mass producing in a commercial kitchen and packaging with "Nutrition Facts" and a UPC barcode it kind of loses it's charm.

Another point is that, from your other posts, it looks like you don't even have your product down to a science now, and you admit you have zero experience with commercial equipment. How are you going to be able to hit the ground running and produce a uniform product. What kind of volume are you talking about?

It seems all you have going for you is an interest in your product and someone willing to cash in on it by fronting you startup money. Sorry, but I think that person is overestimating your abilities.

Maybe commercial was the wrong term? I'm not trying to get into Whole Foods. I will be taking custom orders locally and online, hopefully sell in nearby coffee shops and markets, weekend events etc. I'm not sure I'll ever be fully satisfied and confident with the product. I'm constantly trying various changes. However, months after my original post, I've come up with something people enjoy. If I've learned anything, it's that I can obsess about tiny details all day long and most people wouldn't see the difference. I know I'm capable of producing these in an 8-10 shelf convection oven. We're not talking thousands of cookies per day. The situation isn't what I expected or intended at all, especially not this quickly. I've been asked to do it though and want to go in with as much knowledge as I can gather. I certainly wish I were professionally trained before diving in but that isn't happening.
 
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Maybe commercial was the wrong term? I'm not trying to get into Whole Foods. I will be taking custom orders locally and online, hopefully sell in nearby coffee shops and markets, weekend events etc.

I understand that but even if you baked a sheet of cookies in your home kitchen it's a commercial enterprise once you sell to the public. But that's not the question here.

But you still haven't answered my question: what is it about your product that is causing all the attention? What is different about it that customers can't get from a local bakery that bakes their own products?

Too often, operations like this are a flash in the pan because if all you have is a lot of interest that can change over night. Customers are fickle and get easily bored.
 
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I understand that but even if you baked a sheet of cookies in your home kitchen it's a commercial enterprise once you sell to the public. But that's not the question here.

But you still haven't answered my question: what is it about your product that is causing all the attention? What is different about it that customers can't get from a local bakery that bakes their own products?

Too often, operations like this are a flash in the pan because if all you have is a lot of interest that can change over night. Customers are fickle and get easily bored.

I don't want to be specific but the cookies are unique compared to everything sold in the area. There aren't any decent bakeries nearby. I understand that isn't enough to keep the momentum going! Continual interest is absolutely a concern and will be addressed.
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
I don't want to be specific but the cookies are unique compared to everything sold in the area. There aren't any decent bakeries nearby. I understand that isn't enough to keep the momentum going! Continual interest is absolutely a concern and will be addressed.
You have a very simple problem: you have a product that has generated some interest because of its quality and because, as you put it, there are no decent bakeries nearby. But, you don't have the knowledge or experience to move forward in your plans. That gives you two options and two options only:

1. Take the leap of faith and open your bakery. However, I think any professional chef will agree that your odds of succeeding given your level of experience are very low, if not impossible.
-or-
2. Gather the knowledge necessary so you are at least competent in terms of the obstacles and hurdles that you will have to negotiate in order to give your venture the chance that it deserves. There are a few ways you can make that happen:
- Like I said previously, you can partner with professional baker and use their knowledge and experience.
But, you will have to pay them well and probably have to give them some sort of ownership interest.
- Work in a professional bakery or an establishment that specializes in the product you want to produce. That will
give you the opportunity to see how everything works from the inside. The drawback is that it will take time.
- Have your product professionally tested and hire a manufacturing company to handle all of the production.
That will not give you that "home made" charm that you currently have,. But, its an option.
- Continue working out of your own kitchen. However, sooner or later, you will draw the sort of attention that you
do not want. That could easily create a very expensive legal issue.

If you are that eager to push forward, choice #1 is your best bet. If you are not in a hurry, take the time and learn everything you can before you put any plan into motion.

The good news is that none of this is rocket surgery so learning it should be easy. The bad news is there is a lot to learn.

Good luck. :)
 
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Joined May 25, 2015
Without going into detail, this venture will not be funded from my own savings and I will not be in debt.

I don't want to be specific but the cookies are unique compared to everything sold in the area.

You certainly are secretive. How about a business plan and how you expect to pull this off. A 3000 sq ft building is no small operation.
 
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Joined Aug 9, 2018
You have a very simple problem: you have a product that has generated some interest because of its quality and because, as you put it, there are no decent bakeries nearby. But, you don't have the knowledge or experience to move forward in your plans. That gives you two options and two options only:

1. Take the leap of faith and open your bakery. However, I think any professional chef will agree that your odds of succeeding given your level of experience are very low, if not impossible.
-or-
2. Gather the knowledge necessary so you are at least competent in terms of the obstacles and hurdles that you will have to negotiate in order to give your venture the chance that it deserves. There are a few ways you can make that happen:
- Like I said previously, you can partner with professional baker and use their knowledge and experience.
But, you will have to pay them well and probably have to give them some sort of ownership interest.
- Work in a professional bakery or an establishment that specializes in the product you want to produce. That will
give you the opportunity to see how everything works from the inside. The drawback is that it will take time.
- Have your product professionally tested and hire a manufacturing company to handle all of the production.
That will not give you that "home made" charm that you currently have,. But, its an option.
- Continue working out of your own kitchen. However, sooner or later, you will draw the sort of attention that you
do not want. That could easily create a very expensive legal issue.

If you are that eager to push forward, choice #1 is your best bet. If you are not in a hurry, take the time and learn everything you can before you put any plan into motion.

The good news is that none of this is rocket surgery so learning it should be easy. The bad news is there is a lot to learn.

Good luck. :)

Thank you for the advice! The building is a great property investment regardless of my bakery success. It just happens to already have the main fixtures needed for this type of business. There is more to the plan than someone banking on my cookies being good lol. Assuming everything goes through as expected, there is no debate whether this is happening or not. I am aware it doesn't sound like a genius idea but I have to do my best with what I'm being given. I'm just trying to source information so I don't buy the wrong equipment for the job. I will be visiting a couple of places to get insight from the owners. In the mean time I was hoping someone here might know what to consider workflow-wise, ingredient sourcing advice etc. There are very few locals to ask.
 
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Well, you sound fairly determined to make this happen come hell or high water. That could be a good thing or it can be a curse. Time will tell.

As for workflow, I assume you mean what you will be doing from the time you start until the time you finish. That depends on your orders and customer base. But, you can bank on starting at 4am and not getting done until 18 hours later or more. Rinse and repeat, even on Sundays.

You will be cleaning, mixing, measuring, baking, filling, emptying, frosting, icing, shaping, decorating, sweeping, mopping, writing, typing, organizing, prepping, rinsing, adding, subtracting, cursing, ordering, carrying, unloading, crying, laughing, yelling, rushing, pushing, hiring, firing, calling, answering, paying, pulling, driving, parking, running and rushing all day, every day. You will have no weekends. You will have no holidays. You will have little to no time for children or family. All of your waking moments will be at the bakery interrupted by at most 4, maybe, 6 hours spent at home passed out.

That will be your work flow. Welcome to the life. :)

Everything else, you will learn as you go.

Good luck! :)

P.S.

I like those big, soft chocolate chip cookies. ;)
 
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Joined Mar 8, 2015
Your story brings a lot of dejavoo moments to me. I am also not professionally trained. I'm a CFO in Los Angeles County. I have a class B. I had 24 wholesale accounts for my granola. I decided to buy a very tiny bakery to be able to produce at the volume I needed and to be able to ship my products from the brick n mortar bakery. I thought I could do it all. I was determined to make it work. Baking in the house is completely different from baking in a retail bakery. I only had 2 countertop kitchen aid mixers and a small convection commercial 5 shelf full sheet tray oven. I was working much harder and not able to be home for those two years, (the lease). The learning curb is huge on going from baking at home to baking as a retail bakery full time. The rent is not the only expense. I don't know where you are, but in LA county the unsecure property tax is one that people never told me about. The insurance is a lot more, the sales tax on hot items and items eaten on site. But the biggest factor for me not wishing to go back into retail is my daughter saying she hated the bakery because I was always tired, stressed and not home. She never expressed that while I operated it. I closed the bakery last Oct due to the landlord more than doubling rent. My daughter and I are very close again. Especially, cz it is only the two of us at home. She enjoyed having me back home. I still need a granola factory. But this time, the retail side of the bakery will be operated by someone else. I learned the hard way. Just be sure you can afford to float yourself, not pay yourself, and take a good hard look at what other things will feel the ripple effect. Might I suggest a co-packer? (I know of one) Or as mentioned by someone else, who seems wiser, bring in a partner who can lead the way. That is what I'm looking for this time around in Altadena. I'm not trying to rain on your parade. It sounds like you found a good building. I just advise you to go in fully aware. Good luck to you.
 
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