Update On Baking For Restaurant - Frustrated!

Business By ANicole Updated 10 Sep 2007 , 2:56am by DelightsByE

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ANicole Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 2:41am
post #1 of 19

So last week, I made a lemon meringue, choc/peanut butter torte, apple pie, cherry pie, and deep dish caramel apple pie for the restaurant my uncle's GF just bought. It was their first week. I heard nothing from them. No feedback.

Granted, they're busy. They just opened.

So I was dying to check out the place. My mom, sister and I went there tonite for dessert (what else?) and now I'm feeling discouraged!!! I was so excited but now....

The owner was there and she said she's been really busy. I asked her if she still wanted me to come in on Wednesday as planned before, to do more baking, and she said that they've been slow. She thinks it's cuz school started and because of Labor Day. So she never answered "yes" or "no" but that was a no I guess. She's really hard to talk to. So I asked the other co-owner if they got any comments on any of it. She said the deep dish was "hard to cut" because it was so deep, it would fall apart. The apple pie was gone (don't know if they sold it, or if it was horrible and they tossed it!). The torte got good reviews. Lots of people ordering it and liking it a lot. She said she sold some of the lemon too.

Thing is, they have one menu - nothing separate for desserts. And on the desserts section, it lists hot fudge sundae, cream puff, rice pudding and "assorted pies". That's all it says. If I saw that, I would have no clue that the pies are homemade or that they have cake as well. They do have a dessert "specials" sign, but it's sitting propped up on the floor near the counter. NO ONE can see it, trust me. I mentioned to them that maybe I could do flyers and they could set them on the tables. I got no feedback on that. Kind of a blank stare.

In addition, the stuff was made on what... last Sunday. So it's almost 1 week old! I had cherry pie (which I normally would never order, but it looked really yummy when I made it). It was good, but I got it heated w/ ice cream on it. The crust wasn't crunchy. It was dough-y. I am guessing (and my mom agreed) it was due to heating it up??? Maybe that softened it? Anyway, it was still really good.

I know they're busy - but they don't understand that I'm a perfectionist and I want to do a good job and I need feedback in order to do that! I don't know if they want me to continue baking for them. She said she'd call me.

Basically, everyone who has tried my stuff has raved about it. I know what is good and what isn't. People can say whatever they want, but I know if I did a great job or if something is "so-so". That being said, I'm not sure what happened to the crust. Is it from sitting around for a week? That could probably do it. Also, heating it probably softened it.

This won't make or break me. They're going to allow me to put my cards out either way (which I'm working on getting done soon!). It's just that I'm not getting rave reviews - and that's what I wanted, darn it!!!

What should I think about all this?


(P.S. I never wanted to do the pies in the first place! They asked me to. Of course, being that I'm making money doing it, I'll do it. It's just that I wish they were more exciting pies. Lemon meringue, apple and cherry are so "blah".)

18 replies
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brnrlvr Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 2:56am
post #2 of 19

Run. Fast. And don't look back...

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Lorendabug Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 2:57am
post #3 of 19

I am sure they have just been busy. Starting a restuarant has to be very stressful and expensive. Maybe they are having problems and are being cautious. I am sure that your desserts were great. Remember not everyone thinks like we do, we live and breath desserts. Not getting feedback (good/bad) is devistating to us, they may not understand that is what keeps us going. Good luck and keep us posted.

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texasbecky Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 2:58am
post #4 of 19

I'm sure you're frustrated but I'll be they really are just busy. I had a friend who owned a restaurant and when they first started up it was mind blowingly busy with all kinds of things they hadn't thought of, and stuff that just came up. I'll bet it you'll be patient they will give you the feedback you wanted and will start allowing you to make fun pies/cakes, etc. Let us know how it goes.

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BrandisBaked Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 2:59am
post #5 of 19

They are a new business and need time to get a feel for everything.

Personally, I would be put off with someone with someone asking so many questions, and offering to do this or that (print flyers) - because it would be almost like they were trying to tell me how to run MY business. (I actually had someone doing that recently - he actually took a notepad and wrote down all the things I "needed" to do/buy)

I think you need to take a step back and give them time to get "settled in" and determine their needs. I'm sure when they need your awesome desserts, they will be calling you.

You are a supplier, not a partner... even though they are "family". Let them call you when they need you... just tell them the amount of notice you will need to be able to prepare orders.

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briansbaker Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 3:00am
post #6 of 19

Hey... Well that's good that you were asked to do this for a resturant.. But maybe, JUST MAYBE. Being they just opened.. you know how it goes, gotta lose money first to make money.. Maybe there not making profit yet.. And dont see any hurry in letting someone else make profit. Does that make sense.. Maybe because THEY didnt make the pies themselves, their not taking pride in them as you are. Give it a couple months, so that they can start getting "regulars". then maybe they will want a dessert menu going , for the "regulars'. Either way, good luck!

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sewlora Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 3:14am
post #7 of 19

I'm not so sure I'd want my name associated with a restaurant that had food sitting around for a week...? Hopefully it's just growing pains because it's new. (JMHO)

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kakeladi Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 3:17am
post #8 of 19

Calm down. As the other posters said, they need time to figure out exactly what they are doing. Yes, they probably have been busy as was said finding out things they hadn't thought of and figuring out other things didn't work they way they thought etc, etc.
The one thing that would trouble me is how long they are letting the desserts sit.
They should be *fresh* - not a week oldicon_sad.gif
They are going to have to throw some things out. Get less each week until they know what sells best etc. Good luck. Give it a month or two before you get frustrated any more.

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ANicole Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 3:29am
post #9 of 19

BrandisBaked is probably right. I wasn't trying to intentionally tell them what to do, but help them sell what they paid me for. icon_sad.gif I think I'm just going to stop worrying about it.

The reason why I asked her if she wanted me to come in on Wednesday is that originally, when she asked me to do all those pies, she gave me a day's notice. I have a full time job and 2 little kids, so I baked till 4 a.m. and then got up for work at 6:30 a.m. I just don't want her to call me at the last minute and decide she wants 5 more pies. Also, I don't want her to reject her if she does call me at the last minute, and end up blowing the whole thing.

I guess I feel sort've stuck. I realize they need time - but I just need more than 1 day's notice. 3 or 4 days would be good.

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fiddlesticks Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 3:39am
post #10 of 19

Hi I hope it works out for you. Also I know that crust can get soft if its been in the fridge. Maybe not all crust. but I have had some reg pastry crust get soft that way, your choc pb torte sounds yummy !!! care to share !! good luck !

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ANicole Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 3:50am
post #11 of 19

Fiddlesticks, I used the "Best Choc. Cake" recipe from betty crocker, torted it and iced it with the choc whipped icing recipe here. The filling is the PB mousse recipe on here also. I garnished w/ chopped peanuts.

It's truly heavenly.

I must say I'm really bummed out right now. I really hate my job and I think a lot of this "urgency" for the cake thing to work out right away is that I literally cry at work sometimes because I'm so miserable. I can't afford to quit (like I said, I have 2 little kids), and I have been looking for a job for almost a year. The economy is horrible here in Michigan. Normally, I could've had a job the first couple of resumes I sent out. It's crazy that I'm "stuck" when I have a lot of skills (I'm a legal secretary). I guess I was pushing too hard just so I didn't have to be miserable anymore!

It doesn't help that my hormones are all wacky right now..

Tomorrow is another day. I will back off them and keep trying to make this baking thing work - on my own!

Thanks for the advice, guys!!!


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fiddlesticks Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 4:23am
post #12 of 19

Thanks for the recipe ! Sometimes when we sit back and just let things happen it works out for the best, And you wont make your self sick over it ! go and enjoy your kids. things will work out . Sometimes we try tooo hard !

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cakesbycathy Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 1:02pm
post #13 of 19

I think you will just need to be very clear with them. If she calls wanting pies the day before, you have to politely but firmly tell her "Sorry, since I am working full time and with the kids I need at least 3 or 4 days notice." As much as you want the business, you have to set boundries. If she gives you a hard time, then you should rethink if this is the right path to getting your own business off the ground.

Also, I agree with other posters, I think you need to back off a little bit. They are probably so busy and overwhelmed with getting their restaurant up and growing, they just don't have time and energy to deal with one more thing -giving you some feedback right now.

As hard as it is (especially since you hate your job), you just need to give it a little bit more time.
Good Luck!

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mkolmar Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 2:24pm
post #14 of 19

The pies crust was probably soft like that because of the date, with it being a week old. Not that you can controle this but fruit pies are only really good for the first day (sometimes if you are lucky the second too) after that the crust starts to change do to the moisture from the fruit.
I personally would never sell a pie 1 week old, but that's just me. I know you have no say over this.
Restaurants have a large overhead and have to be careful where they spend money and to try to make sure that they use everything. With them just opening it's going to be rough---really rough!
Just learned in culinary class from our chef that the national average for a successful restaurants profit is only 4 - 6 cents out of every dollar. How depressing is that! (and that's for a successful one! icon_surprised.gif )
When a restaurant starts it usually will be in the red for the first 6 months to a year, and the owners need to have that saved and put aside before opening in order to keep open---until they start turning a profit.
---this is probably why your not getting answers, their heads are swimming right now after one week.

If they order again, just keep doing what you do and don't worry, you have no control what they do with the product you made after you deliver it to them.
*you do need to tell them though that you need more notice than 1 day*

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playingwithsugar Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 2:43pm
post #15 of 19

It sounds to me like they have forgotten to ask the customers if they want dessert after their meal.

The economy sucks where I live, too. All the major industries that were once here are now gone, along with the wages they used to pay. But that does not stop the servers here if there is enough room for dessert.

I would re-think whether I want to do business with these folks. It does not sound like they are concerned about what they are not cooking, or in this case, baking.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

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CelebrationsbyLori Posted 9 Sep 2007 , 3:59pm
post #16 of 19

I have one other suggestion. From the sound of your description this is a pretty casual family-style restaurant, so I would suggest dialing back the options for the first few months. Maybe just apple and something special like your torte one week and then cherry and something special the next. With less options people that want dessert will pick and the product will move faster, therefore be fresher as they will sell more of those 2. At first I'm sure they are scrambling for customers and of those how many people "save room for dessert"? So too many options can be a problem when it comes to freshness and waste. After they become a bit more established and their delicious desserts known, then you can slowly add an option or 2 every couple of weeks and then be making all the choices you want. The reason they didn't want to talk about it too much is they may be trying to figure a polite way to ask you to do just this and don't want to look rude since they approached you, who knows? Call and find out when is a not busy time (probably before or after hours) and discuss all this with both owners and at least know where you stand!
Sorry so long! -Lori

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ANicole Posted 10 Sep 2007 , 2:28am
post #17 of 19

All great advice! Thanks so much for listening and for the support and advice. Today is a new day and I am really not worried about it all anymore. Honestly, the fact that they kept my stuff around that long kind of bothered me so much that maybe I decided I don't want to do it anymore anyway? I'm going to wait and see what happens.

Thanks again!

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fiddlesticks Posted 10 Sep 2007 , 2:41am
post #18 of 19

good luck to you! Let us know what happens !

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DelightsByE Posted 10 Sep 2007 , 2:56am
post #19 of 19
Originally Posted by BrandisBaked

I think you need to take a step back and give them time to get "settled in" and determine their needs. I'm sure when they need your awesome desserts, they will be calling you.

You are a supplier, not a partner... even though they are "family". Let them call you when they need you... just tell them the amount of notice you will need to be able to prepare orders.

BrandisBaked is 100% spot-on. I too am a supplier for an "almost-family" business and I too went through this....the owner decided to change the dessert offerings for the summer and quit ordering cheesecakes from me....complicating this was that he had some service troubles and had a bad batch of waitstaff who couldn't quite grasp the concept of upselling desserts. They also handled it pretty poorly with me, I won't bore you with the gory details, but after several weeks of hurt feelings and ugly thoughts, I finally decided I was going to put my requirements as a SUPPLIER in writing, along with a detailed pricelist of everything I could offer and how much items would cost, terms of sale, ordering and delivery timeframes, etc. So that when they're ready to order from me again, they know what my expectations are.

I'd back off them for a bit and let them get a feel for how business is going to be. I know you're a perfectionist and want feedback. But you'll probably also have to just accept the fact you're not likely to get much from them - some people just aren't good at that sort of thing.

One other thing I just wanted to address - since you're providing fresh product, not anything mass-produced and full of preservatives, you need to clearly indicate on your packaging (and if you're not using any kind of boxes, wraps and/or labeling yet, now would be the time to start) what the expiration dates of the products are. I had this trouble too with the cheesecakes I was delivering, I had to print on the label DISCARD AFTER 10 DAYS otherwise who knows how long they'd sit in the fridge. icon_rolleyes.gif

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