okay so i am opening my own cake bakery. but i was wondering what you guys would recommend...
which do you guys enjoy better? having a home based bakery/commercial kitchen or a store front bakery??
please help me guys! i just can't decide!
Hello! I am facing the same dilemma myself, and have been going back and forth for over a year! I understand what you are going through...
I think the choice depends on a lot of different variables (Overhead Cost, Clientele and demand, Location, etc.) But overall you have to decide what is best for yourself. Starting a storefront has it's advantages of course, foot traffic will obviously help advertise your business. However, it is five-ten times more expensive to start off with a storefront (staffing... oy vey.) While being home-based may be a slower start, you will be able to build a customer base and eventually expand into a storefront with more stability. So I think you can tell what I would lean towards to start off with. However, if you have already built up a strong clientele and can afford to be stable through the slow months of having a storefront (because we all know the day-to-day sales that come from a bakery rarely actually pay the bills) than absolutely go for it!
Here are some great references I have found quite helpful:
Good luck to you and know that you are not alone out there!
I would agree with CaptainCupcakes, especially if you are just starting out and don't have a client base yet. Opening a storefront is a HUGE investment of time and money. I would start out doing it from your home (or a commercial kitchen depending on where you live) and see if it's even something you want to do full time! Once you have invested all of the money to build out the shop, buy equipment, sign a lease, etc. you are pretty much locked in and you're in it for the long haul.
P.S. Just so you know, I have a storefront, so if you have any specific questions about running a storefront bakery, I'd be happy to help!
I would say that, first, you have to decide what kind of baking you are planning to do. Are you planning to sell lots of everyday cakes, like would be found in a walk-in shop? Will you be making mostly custom orders like decorated birthday and wedding cakes? If you don't plan on having regular hours where folks can just drop in, I would lean to the home-based commercial kitchen. For the record, I just became an official, inspected, commercial kitchen (in my basement) a week and a half ago.
I will be doing mostly custom cakes. I will not have regular hours, as it is just me, working alone, and I wouldn't want Jane Doe to just show up thinking I had an hour and a half to drop whatever project I am working on to answer all her questions on her "maybe" wedding cake. Plus, I wouldn't want visitors to my work area when I am up to my eyeballs in mixing fondant, etc... I plan to run cupcake decorating classes, and basic and intermediate cake decorating classes in the early week, like Mondays and Tuesdays, as the most cake-time-intensive days are later in the week. I may take orders for X-number of such and such a cakes here and there if I need to fill in a little work (until I have lots of orders. Unfortunately, I could not take orders until the kitchen was approved, so here I am, ready to go, and only now can I take orders. Most brides book well ahead, so maybe I will be getting those last-minute ladies for awhile.
For all this, it was a much better deal in MANY ways to build a second kitchen in my home:
- Whatever the project, I can be at work in 30 seconds.
- No gas money running to and from work.
- No rent/lease...low overhead.
- I couldn't rent a store front bakery for even 6 months for what it cost to build my commercial kitchen.
- My house value goes up, now that I have a 2nd kitchen.
- The square footage, and the kitchen's share of the utilities, etc. (in addition to appliances and materials) are business expenses, and having this home-based business is a good thing when it comes to taxes.
- There is no "forgetting that paper I scribbled on" either at home or at the bakery.
- In the winter, all the oven heat from baking can help to heat my house. :) Of course, there is the summer... might need to add some a/c to the kitchen then. We'll cross that bridge next summer.
- I can run upstairs to throw the wash into the dryer, put the dogs out, feed the chickens, etc. without driving home at lunch or needing someone else to do it for me.
- Since my customers will be walking through my living room to the stairs to go down to my kitchen, I will always need to have my house clean and the dog hair off the floor in our house area, so I am forced to keep my own housework done. :) You might look at that as a HUGE negative, but for me, it is good. I'll feel good that it is always presentable, and my hubby loves a nice clean house. BTW I choose to bring them in that way. I do have an outside entrance to the basement... it is just much nicer to walk down the steps from inside the house...right past my nice cake display on the landing.
- I only need to pay for internet, cable, heat, etc. one time, and not double. This is huge!
- There is no locking up the bakery downtown at 2 am, and hoping I am the only one in the alley.
That's enough of my thoughts. I have a facebook album of the building of my kitchen. You can see it here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.488784307807857.116189.305476909471932&type=3
I hope you make the best decision for you... and if you build, don't forget Craigslist, the newspaper, and Ebay. You can get great deals on used cabinetry, shelving, etc., and keep the costs down.
thank you guys so, so much!
i think i will go with starting at home businuss i will be specializing in cakes and cupcakes, catering and like wedding and birthday cakes.
i knew i could rely on you CC's thanks a lot in advance!
debm1 your kitchen looks great hpefully i can have one like that!, how long did it take to make, and how much did it cost? cheers
It took about a month to do. We had to build 3 walls, close in the stairway, and create a hall at the bottom of the steps (just because I don't want customers to see the rest of the basement, not because I had to make the hall). Then there was lighting/electrical, plumbing, etc... I put in a grease trap (to save our sand mound/septic system), and I had to have a pump installed to move the waste water UP several feet to the sewer line. We hired a contractor to build it and install the cabinetry, counters, drop ceiling, etc... A plumber did the plumbing work, but blessed us with his time, and only charged for materials.
I got my big triple sink and stainless steel work tables for free from a contractor who works for a shopping center. The grocery store bakery was throwing them out. That saved a bunch. My cabinets were 475.00 USED on Craigslist. The drop ceiling was torn out of another place by our contractor, who salvaged it for me. I did the floors, and my husband did the trim. The doors were used, and bought from a private school. I bought the fridge and convection range new, after checking all over the area, finding the best deal, and buying it on a one year same as cash deal. I'm buying my drawer/door pulls/knobs on ebay, at a great price.
If you start looking for used deals now, you can save a LOT of money, but you will have to find a place to store it. I didn't have to use regular cabinetry, but I prefer it...to keep it nice looking and organized. I will be running classes some, and having customers there occasionally. We got a $10,000 home eguity loan, and it covered everything, with a little to spare. I didn't have to buy much equipment, as I've been growing that collection for years. I chose to buy edible ink and a printer, and cakeboss software, though I wouldn't HAVE to start out with either. The cakeboss software looks like it will pay for itself in all kinds of ways. So glad I bought that.
If you plan to airbrush, I would recommend a vented corner with laminate on the walls, like I built. I like it better than a portable booth, and it serves a dual purpose as my mixer area... all that powdered sugar can also get vented outside. :)
Enough for now. If you have questions, feel free to message me with your phone number (as long as it's a USA number), and I'll be happy to call you...or send you my number.
Wishing you all the best and success on your new venture!
wow, thats awesome!. ad really handy they where throwing those benches out! thank you so much! :)
unfotunetly i'm in new zealand so i cn't call you, but thank you so much for your help!
AThis is great! glad i found this site!!! looking into a kitchen or storefront as well.
Before you start a home based business you need to make sure your state allows it. Also you will need to find out what they want as far as where you can bake out of and the type of appliances they require. Here in Fl. we can bake out of our home without a separate area needed as well as the fact that the stove has to be those that you use at home, not the industrial ones. Good luck!
I also started a home based business, my kitchen was just finish a couple of months ago. I wish you the best of luck! the pictures of my kitchen can be found in facebook under Sweet Tales Cake Boutique. Let me know what you guys think :)
Having done cakes out of my home for 16 or so years, I can tell you that I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I opened my own bakery and now my home is my home and my place of business is my place of business. If I ever decide to shut down my bakery, I will NOT be doing cakes out of my home again.
Your kitchen looks amazing! The ground floor access will be wonderful!
Thanks so much Deb, this little shop of mine is been a dream for a while. I worked for so many pastry chefs in the past 8 years that I decided to do it. I took my garage and made it into a kitchen. I decided to use marble for the oversize island as we temper chocolate and marble has great cooling factors. The floor is actually stain concrete, I was asked by my town to have a floor drain, so it had to be concrete. Thanks for stopping by, I also ck your kitchen and it looks great! is so nice to meet someone is been through the same path.
Thank you Shophymalik, is been a dream of mine to finish the place and we just got it signed off by the inspector last week. Thanks for the comment on the flowers, I bough this awesome orchid book that has great pics and it comes handy when painting the flowers. I will post some pics of the final kitchen soon.
If you dont mind and in my very In humble opinion ... how do we girls define sucess? is it by the money in the bank? by the ability to pick up your child from school and be home for them when they need us, by doing what we love to do everyday even if it means working 60 plus hrs? -I dont have children and where I do have some money in the bank I dont define my sucess with that cash, I find sucess when a customer picks up their cake and they start crying, when a baker buys my sugar flowers and has a smile from ear to ear. I chose to convert a garage into a kitchen instead of a storefront for a number of reasons, but if all comes back to how I define sucess. Do keep a couple of things in mind ...
1. Overhead, I made an initial investment and had savings from selling my sugar flowers to local bakeries, I dont have to pay rent. My place is small, but large enough to be run as a Commercial kitchen, when I did a ROI "return on investment" the number looked awesome not having to pay rent helps my bottom line..
2. Our society and potential customers are changing, I can tell you that 80% of my shoping is done on line, just because you run something out of a basement or a garage does not mean you will be less sucessfull than a store front cake shop, it does mean you got to do your homework, you have to be or learn to be a good sales person. Bring your flowers, bring your best dessert, cake the best local restaurant I will like to share something that I did with you ... I made these awesome cream puffs and brough them to a restaurant down the st from my shop, I talked to a waiter about it and asked them if they will try it and let me know their thoughs as we just make a change to the recepe. I gave them 12 for free, they were package nicely,they order 150 for christmas eve, now, the sucess here is not the 150 puffs that I sold, but the fact that now the restaurant staff talks about my puffs and how awesome they are to their customer and friends, they have become my salespeople and dont even know it, make friends with people in town and I could keep on talking and talking about sales, because I just love the topic , but I dont want to bore you LOL!
Have a good night
A@sweetales wow! Your 2013 will be a blast! I read the thread and it inspires me... I'm a home baker and selling some cakes before now that I a new mom ( had a 3 month old baby girl) my husband wanted me to stay home.... So I'm going to start pulling out my recipe book, buying some stuff for baking..... My first order blueberry cheese cakes, mini choco moist cake and mini tiramisu cakes.... Will be serving a coffee shop downtown.... Wish me luck for my taste sample.... On feb got orders 2 birthday cakes fondant for a 86 and 60 y/0 client.
Wow Deborah, what an exciting home-based kitchen you have in FB. But I'm wondering how did you get an approval from your state? I live in NJ and they said it's not legal to bake at home for business.
I just want to do cake decorating, and maybe some specialty cupcakes too. Is there a way that I can do these at my house?
Thanks for your time.
Original message sent by jollyb9
Wow Deborah, what an exciting home-based kitchen you have in FB. But I'm wondering how did you get an approval from your state? I live in NJ and they said it's not legal to bake at home for business.
wow deb and liz
tremendously awesome places you've both built!!
brava!!! how sweet it is!!!
liz, is that a granite counter top or marble or is it something else??
just purely curious
You'll have to check out your state/town... whatever group the "Powers That Be" are where you live. I had to build a second kitchen. It is in my basement, and that is okay in PA. No animals can have access to it. In PA, you CAN be approved to bake from your home kitchen, too... with limitations. No children can have access while you are working. All ingredients must be stored separately from your family foods. No animals can have access to the kitchen area at any time. There are limitations as to what you can bake/sell... No potentially hazardous foods (nothing that has to be refrigerated, like whipped cream fillings, cheesecakes...). I have 2 Labrador retrievers, so I knew right up front that I couldn't use my home kitchen. I did not have to build a second building. A second kitchen was fine, so that's the route I went.
I have 3 months from the date I was inspected to complete Food Safety Manager Certification Training course, and pass the test. This test has to be passed every 5 years here in PA. My water has to be tested and pass for Nitrates and Coliform every year, and I get a yearly inspection from The PA Dept. of Agriculture. I am a registered Food Establishment in the state of PA, so I can make cheesecakes and use whipped cream, etc. My hours are by appointment. My local township had to write a letter stating that I was allowed to run a business like this from my home, and since we have a sand mound/septic system, the man who is the head of the township sewer/waste had to write a letter stating that our septic system should handle the waste water. I did not have to add a grease trap, but I chose to do it anyhow. It's WAY cheaper to put in a grease trap, than a new septic system!
Now, I have to get the word out. Until I get busy enough, I'll keep building websites for other companies. The problem is finding the time to build my own sites. :)
A side note: If you are not registered in PA, you better not get caught charging anything for your cakes. You can GIVE them away, though. Now, to pay off this kitchen... Bring on the orders!
AThanks so much for the kind words on my kitchen, the counter is Carrara marble a friend of mine works at a place where they sell granite and marble and gave an amazing deal. I need it marble too as we temper chocolate all the time and it does have great tempering abilities
omg how lusciously lovely oooohhh it looked like marble!!!!
i am fortunate enough to have a small marble top island
but yours is deliciously obscene in a wonderful good way!!!!
granite would not be user friendly to me at all but all marble --wow
far beyond way cool
Thanks Jason for your kind reply. I'm so happy to hear that health departments are allowing commercial home-based kitchen. I came across a story about this person who said that he wanted to build a space (or turn an existing space in his house) for a commercial kitchen but he was not allowed because it's attached to his house. Maybe this person is from a very strict state.
Thanks Deb for your reply. You and Sweetales are great inspirations for me.
I think I want to rent a commercial kitchen for now. I actually found one which is about 20 minutes drive from my place. They charge $25/ hr, and they also have daily rates. They have a commercial oven and walk-in fridge. They will also provide me a storage for my stuff. I'm going there tomorrow and they will give me a tour of the place; I'm soooo excited.
By the way, can you recommend an online school where I can take food handling courses before I take the tests?
Loving your cakes,
There are sites online that offer Food Safety Manager Certification Training courses... HOWEVER, even though they look good, or the price might be nice, BEWARE. They are not always accepted in your state. You don't want to pay twice. Find out from your local inspector which courses are accepted. I ended up going with the ServeSafe TAP series online classes that are through the Penn State Extension (locally). The classes are all online. Then when finished, you print out the certificate that the class is complete, and take it with you to the testing site at their office. They do the classes one day a month. The total cost was $ 135.00. I am in the middle of the online class right now. I am scheduled for the February test... but now I have to re-schedule, as my husband is getting 2 new hips that week. He's getting his hips this winter, and I will probably get mine next winter. At least I only need one! Unfortunately, we are not that old... early 50s. The hips are falling apart complements of Lyme Disease. I'm looking forward to walking without pain, and carrying a cake without worrying that I might stumble every time I step on my right leg. :) Back to the main subject: research the classes and prices. The prices vary greatly. Also, you can find one day classes taught live. That would have been my first choice, but the dates would not fit into my schedule before my 3 month deadline (3 months from the date of my inspection and start of the business).
hope you guys are up and running/walking (carefully but) briskly very very soon!
wow, dang! stinking %$#&* lyme disease
warm wishes and miraculous easy nice quick healing to you
with a hefty helping of zero complications
merry merry marathons to you both!!!
Thank-you so much! We have seen miracles, and would welcome another...without the operations. However it happens, it will be nice to walk normally again. I'm fine baking and decorating... it can be hard delivering large cakes like wedding cakes. I think I'll look for a strong, dependable teenager to help carry the big ones... if I can stand the thought of trusting a kid with a cake. Yikes! :)
I live in a state that does not allow a home kitchen. We were required to build a separate building and then the commercial kitchen could only occupy 1/4 of the total space. Here is a link to the destruction of the old building and then the reestablished building with my kitchen.
I enjoy being able to walk across the yard and work on my cakes and go back to the house if I need to throw some laundry in the washer. Also, if I don't want to work, I mark the days on the calendar and off I go to do with what I want. Storefronts require a routine and hours that are consistent to build a client base.