Looking for Direction / Instruction for my Task

Joined Mar 23, 2010
Hello.  My name is John and I have a substantial, yet hopefully tasty task ahead of me.  I want to learn about food that would be prepared and sold in my coffee roastery/espresso bar.  Specifically, I would like to have  breakfast, lunch and pastries.  I have some semblence of these now; my present offerings are not inspiring however.  I've hired folks to help me in past, but I've struggled financially and haven't quite been able to maintain consistency.  I've decided to step out of the espresso bar and move into the kitchen.  I really like this idea since I just like the idea of good food with my good coffees and want to share with others.   We have a very basic (and incomplete I might add) menu which is basically bacon, sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits or eng muffins, sausage gravy and burrito for breakfast.  We have a couple paninis, chicken salad and wraps for lunch.  Pastries are kinda embarrassing- we have pillsbury scones and cheesecake brownies.  I'm sure that I've forgotten a couple items, but that's most of it.

I'd like to learn how to improve my menu by first learning how to taste and cook.  I've bought a few items over the last couple years to get started, but just didn't.

Tools I own:
1/2 sheet Blodgett- old.
panini grill  14x14
sandwich cooler station ( 3' wide)
small griddle ( no hood)
small steam table
pretty old KA mixer (heavy)
food processor
pizza stone (like to explore stromboli or something like that)
and I have a proofer (big ol thing)

Joy of Cooking
How to Cook Everything
Best Soups/Stews   Cooks Illustrated
King Arthur Baking Companion
and a few others.

Small town atmosphere in rural South.  My roastery/espresso bar is almost out of place, but people are slowly coming around.  a small college here helps too.

Thanks for reading this post.

btw, I have seating for about 40 and have a small dual zone case at the bar for people to see what's available- has been sadly lacking for a couple years : (
Joined Feb 4, 2010
Can you get a fair-sized convection oven? Start with your own fresh biscuits and scones (these are easy once you get the technique), a variety of muffins (3-4 kinds) are also easy to make, coffee cakes are not hard and much appreciated. These to start with. You need to get up at an ungodly hour in the morning but actually all baking powder products can be made the night before, refrigerated and baked fresh in the early morning.
Joined Jul 17, 2009
Make eclairs, they sound so tough and fancy, but after you make them, they're actually really easy to make. As stated above, do coffee cakes and muffins, and maybe some basic cookies and brownies. You're wraps and paninis sound fine. Hope this helps
Joined Mar 23, 2010
George and mgchef,
Thanks for the replies.  I would love to learn how to make all these things.  I'm in the process of remodeling my storage room to accomodate a bakers table and whatever else.  I'm gaining about 7' along a wall.  Wow.  There's more questions there too. Fluorescent light over the table? other?  How big of a table?  can I make my own?  Man o' man.

btw George, is the Blodgett oven I have too small?  it's a convection oven that takes 1/2 sheets and has 5 racks.  At present I cook my bacon, sausage, scones, chicken etc.  I don't see a hood system in my future.

Well I've gone to rambling now.  Thanks for the wonderful suggestions. 
Joined Feb 1, 2007

I admire your ambition. But before going any further I suggest you check the legalities in your area.

Just the absence of a hood, in most areas, is a stop-in-your-tracks no-no. At a minimum, you likely need a three-station sink and a grease trap as well.

It's difficult to build your own work tables in a commercial environment because there, too, there are health and safety issues. Stainless steel is usually specified.

So, check with the local health officials. You might be in for some surprises.
Joined Mar 23, 2010
good morning.

I'm located just north of chattanooga, tn.

Yep.  I'm aware of the health dept regs.  My kitchen already has a large stainless triple sink.  I get an inspection about every six months. 

I just don't have the money for a hood.  I could have lots of fun then I suppose.

have a great day.

Joined Feb 26, 2007
Re your kitchen set up - plenty of people from various areas on this Forum to suggest what you may need, but as KYH say says, you absolutely must check with your local authority as to what they require.  Not trying to put you off in the least - love your enthusiam!  Just gotta make sure its done right, first time.

I like the ideas of muffins - they are pretty much quick to make and no brainers, can do sweet or savoury have a small range to start, see what sells well.  Omce you get on your feet with the business, a range of breads (think they are called artisan over there) gets people thru the door.  Maybe offer small say like half loaves for students, they'll never get thru a full one before it goes off,  Cost will have to be higher, but they may be wasting half their bread anyway.

As there is a college nearby, people will be looking for a quick fix, so pre-made sandwich packs may not be such a bad idea if you have the refrigeration space for them. or wraps, that kind of thing.  Again, check with authorities as for what you need for this.

Another idea for the college students who quite often have just left home and don't know how to cook - pre-packaged pasta or rice type meals kept chilled so they can take the back to the dorm and re-heat them. Or following the dealings of major chains, offer a meal deal type of thing with a pasta, salad and drink (no plastic toys tho :) )  Gotta cost it right, just a thought.  It could catch on.
Joined Mar 23, 2010
Hey dc sun.

College students are a tough food sell here.  It's a very small school of about 700.  I sell lots of drinks to them.  However the great majority are required to buy the school's meal plan; and in this case it's good for them- multiple options of foods; open 7 to 7; and they can even get lattes on their plan- thankfully they're lousy.

Thanks for the great ideas too.  Speaking of artisan breads, what do you think of the bread in 5 minutes idea?

Joined Mar 21, 2010
Hey John;

I've got to run out the door but I will check back with you tomorrow. I think I might have some ideas that might interest you..
Have a great night!! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/peace.gif
Joined Feb 3, 2010
It sounds like your set up is vaguely similar to ours.  We are a variety store in the country, which is not at all similar, but we installed a commercial kitchen to cater to the locals and campers in the provincial park in our back yard.  We also offer breakfast, lunch, and baked goods (ours are take-out only) and, while we are not a coffee house, we have a coffee counter set up with a Kuerig brewer and 12 kinds of coffee/tea/cocoa.

Things that do very well here include fresh baked bread made in mini loaf pans.  The molasses herb bread is most popular, followed by our orange cinnamon swirl.  We have trouble keeping an oatmeal brownie stocked (oatmeal layer, like for date squares, topped with fudgy brownie & chocolate icing)  Simple fried egg sandwiches fly out the door.  Omelet sandwiches, especially western and our turkey & salsa, are very popular.  There is an increasing demand for a simple salsa scramble wrap.   Easiest thing ever.  Just a tablespoon of hot salsa mixed into two eggs, scrambled and put on a 10" whole wheat wrap with some shredded cheddar.  For the busy summer time we'll be offering grab-and-go mini breakfast wraps; bacon & egg, sausage & egg, salsa scramble, omelet, etc.

We also don't have a hood beyond a simple residential exhaust.  This is because we don't have, and won't have, and indoor fryer.  That seems to be the key thing for the health inspectors and fire chief.
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Joined Nov 5, 2007
Cheese grits?

I'd recommend a few varieties of quiche.  They can be made in advance and heated to order.  Seafood, chicken and mushroom, bacon and asparagus, whatever strikes your fancy.  Looks like you might not have a burner available to do a daily soup.

How about a daily by-the-slice pizza?  The dough can be prepared the night before, refridgerated, then rolled out and topped in time for lunch.

Joined Mar 21, 2010
 Couldn't help jumping on my friends laptop while I was waiting for him.. Wanted to ask if you are running this dog and pony show by 
yourself, or do you have some kind of support system? Let me know cause i'd be willing to take a drive up and help you get started, no
strings attached.. I just LOVE helping people!!!!! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
Joined Mar 23, 2010
Wow.  More great ideas- most I've wondered about since I read alot.  Mostly I do run this dog and pony show by myself.  However, when I get an idea to do something, there are folks who can help.  My problem seems to be a combination of doing the "right" things in a systematic way along with proper "advertising."  ugh.

I am very encouraged to get into the kitchen however since I am desirous to learn food and will put in the learning time.  In the past I've trusted others to "make something happen" on my dime.  Can't afford that anymore.

I'll be hiring someone to assist my first-shift barista while I stay put in the kitchen.  Then I'll be the second shift barista til six.  I'll have to fit in coffee roasting in there somewhere.

anyhow I hope to figure out a system that incorporates most of what I've been reading here.  my big issue will be learning "how to cook well."  Then I will learn how to cook efficiently and quickly.  You make no money, no money if you not quick.

Thank you all for your suggestions.  Well, the college students have left the building and now shall I.

good night.
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