Monday, June 28, 2010

ya never don't know where the customers come from

It has been nearly a month since my last post. We started the Glenwood Sunday market, June 6th and it has been non-stop since. The first day we were out of goods at 10:20. Second Sunday we made it to a little after 11. The third Sunday, 12:20. Yesterday we loaded up, and there was a sunami at 9am. Same starting time as the market. It rained for about thirty minutes, hard. Sideways rain. Like Forest Gump said "Rained so hard, it was rainin' up". I've spoke before of the issues that crusty bread has with the rain, not a pretty sight. We still sold over half of what we sent there. We sent our first truck in the morning, and it was my duty to take the second truck around 10am. I headed that way, knowing that they really weren't going to need the goods I had with me. The market was pretty much empty, 'cept a few die hards. One lady said "I finally get to taste your goods, there isn't any line this week". Last Monday I was in our store fetching a cup of coffee. A fellow was waiting for his turn and he was holding a little girl, maybe two years old. He asked me "Do you have any California bread today". I said "We typically don't put that in our store on Monday's". He explained that he bought one at the Glenwood Sunday market. Him and his wife finished it in one day, and he had to have more. I replied "Sorry, we can have it for you tomorrow". He placed an order and off he went. Upon my return to the office, I saw a loaf of day old raisin fennel and flax seed rye, in the day old pile. I grabbed 'em and I pretty much chased him down the street. Turned out he was carrying a six pack of cupcakes. He was very pleased with what I offered him. I assured him the loaves were day old, and "I was hoping they would get him thru the night". I doubt that would happen at a supermarket bakery. I don't know if he was a "First timer", here at the bakery. The fact that he found his way here, really left me with a good feeling. The Glenwood market has been doing incredible. The lady who runs the market told me "There hasn't been a bakery in this neighborhood for thirty years. Davidson's used to have a store on Morse ave". More support of my belief, the world is starving for quality bakery goods.

Since Father's day, things have slowed down considerably, in our store. The campus is empty, and it was miserably hot/humid last week. Father's day weekend was very, very busy. It was NU graduation, so the town was full. Restaurants and hotels were full. Bat 17 and Bistro Bordeaux were doubling their orders, for four days straight. Speaking of Bistro Bordeaux, I had a chance to eat there. Really nice, nice menu, delicious food. They buy our bread and then they serve it in a brown paper bag, stamped with the name of a bakery in Bordeaux. Upset me at first. I asked "Is this bread really from Bordeaux"? The waitress fessed up with the truth, "No, it comes from Bennison's".

We purchased whatever it is we need to make Italian sodas. We have a gadget that turns tap water into seltzer water, we add Torani flavoured syrup, and pour over ice. I gotta say, it's pretty tasty stuff. I guess we will start offering French sodas, as well. They are the same thing only with some form of dairy added.

Hey gotta get back to it. I have jam on the stove. We pitted a load of sweet cherries, added fresh blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. The stuff smells amazing. Gonna have to wait until Wednesday to taste it. We are planning on using it to top our danish pastries that go to market that day.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

ya gotta be kiddin' me

Been chasin' since my return from California. I came in Monday,Memorial Day, we were closed. Phones rang all morning. We should have been open. I mixed for nearly three hours, used five bags of flour. I had to make all the dough's that sit overnight, feed the levains, and set all the soakers, that were needed for market production on Tuesday. I also missed three days macaron production, so I'm startin' to feel that now. We had a killer macaron day yesterday, sales wise.

I drove to work on Wednesday morning, needing the wipers, to get here. We loaded the trucks in the rain, but by time the market opened, it had stopped. In fact, it was pretty nice, sun was out. Last Saturday morning I got a text message from the GCM. "We're out of brioche, pretzel rolls, rhubarb danish, croissants and scones". It was 10:15 or so. Got another one at 11:20, "We're out". Yesterday morning, we went to load the truck, opened one of the metal boxes we use to transport sheet pans, and there were five pans of danish, still in there from Saturday. These boxes I speak of, are pretty big. they hold maybe eight sheet pans. When they are full of product, they are difficult to handle by onesself. So what that means is, Saturday morning, the truck was loaded, driven to the market. The boxes were taken off the truck. Four market kids walked around the boxes all morning. They told customers over and over, "Sorry we're sold out of Danish pastries". The boxes were put back in the truck, driven back to Evanston, put back in the basement. Taken out of the basement, put back in the truck. The box was opened, four days later, discovered and emptied. Neglect, carelessness, stupidity? How do those things happen? I'm comfortable it happens to every business, regardless of industry. I haven't told my dad. If my mother were alive, that would have killed her. I learned and have resolved to a simple belief, "If I'm not willing to accept what goes on here while I'm away, then I shouldn't leave". I think about what it cost the bakery, finding this ridiculous mistake, my daughter's graduation was worth it. In spite of this gaff, we've been struggling to get enough product to this market. Tuesday night we bought a new van. We've been using two, but the older one has two hundred thousand miles on it, can't be long for this world. With a third vehicle, we're gonna find out just how much we can sell at GCM on Saturday's.

That new, nananutterchoco loaf, came out nice. Really tasty stuff. May have been a little salty. Stands to reason that some peanut butter will be saltier than others. It's no secret, producers around the world want to sell as much salt as possible. We sold it all. I baked it last Thursday, we sold it all over the weekend. Plan on making more today. Nananutter, pound cake and lemon poppy seed loaf, all today.As well as a few mixes of macarons.

Gotta get upstairs, I'd like to get home before the street lights come on. Not only are the Evanston/Wilmette/GCM markets rollin', we start the Glenwood/Rogers Park market on Sunday.