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Saara

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    Concrete & Birch Bay, WA

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  1. Saara

    time clock recommendations

    We currently use Homebase https://app.joinhomebase.com which you could use for free for basic timeclock and schedule functionality. It has a few quirks that make it tricky for us so we're looking at Hot Schedules https://www.hotschedules.com/ for next summer. Both have crew messaging which is a great feature and online scheduling.
  2. Saara

    POS Advice?

    Just to clarify, we gross about $350k per 4 month/season. We need to be able to run cards fast. Square is not there. We own our own terminals, but we just need to update so we're not getting screwed by our current provider. We're also bank-shopping since a certain American bank wants to charge us for making cash deposits over $10k. Another clarification, we're in the food service industry. We net approximately $20. No k's.
  3. Saara

    POS Advice?

    Hey DeliGirl! I've been researching the POS subject for a couple of years now and have not found an affordable "perfect" solution yet. We have a seasonal bakery/deli/pizzeria and a candy shop. Two different halves of the business, but we need a POS solution that can support both. They are out there, but they average about $20k. Since we only operate about 4-5 months/year, we can't justify that sort of outlay. Currently I'm keeping an eye on Android-based solutions and am hoping that they will develop quickly to become robust enough to support us in the next couple of years. Meanwhile we muddle along with 3 ancient registers in the candy shop and 1 newer Sharp on the cafe side. This year we're trying to get a new merchant services account set up before we open for Easter sales in ... a week. Hmm ... maybe not. One of our chocolatier friends is relatively happy with the iPad-based ShopKeep system. Since we have to build pizza orders, it won't quite work for us, but it seems to be working, is affordable, and is updated regularly. That was about $1500 for hardware and software per station if I recall correctly. He's running it in two shops. Anyway, you're not alone in your search. Please keep posting here with your findings. I will do my part as well. http://www.merchantmaverick.com/ has some good reviews on POS (and merchant services), but I don't see DinerWare on there. Let us know if you get a ballpark figure from them.
  4. When I started keeping chickens, I researched this since I needed to know how long I could "overwinter" the eggs while the hens weren't laying regularly. The definitive research is at Mother Earth News How to Store Fresh Eggs I do keep my eggs refrigerated even though they are unwashed, but if I'm taking eggs on a sailing trip, I make sure to not refrigerate those eggs and then I don't have to worry about taking up precious cooler space on the boat. However, I wouldn't store eggs that have been washed and/or refrigerated on the counter. Well, unless I need to "age" the eggs for hard-boiled. I'll leave fresher eggs out for a day or two. Otherwise you can't get the shells off!
  5. I'm here and haven't been expended yet! Things have been a bit hectic since my own business (drafting) has picked up a bit so we've been essentially spending long weekends at the shop painting, cleaning and organizing and then a few days here at home working and doing laundry. Compounding my problems is a broken hinge on my laptop so I haven't been able to drag it around with me. Hoping to get that fixed here someday. Since I last wrote, a few things have happened: We went to the FSA food show in Seattle. It was very informative and gave me some good exposure to that end. We got to do a lot of tasting and it was nice to find out who was really behind the various lines (Signature, Elite, Madrona Market, etc.). Found some better tortillas and tomato sauce for starters. Also identified quite a few local suppliers and several products we don't want to get near. Installed Star Solutions (FSA) which will allow me to do online ordering, some inventory management, and recipe costing. Free! I can add in products that we get elsewhere too so it's a great tool to have when we get down to menu pricing. I had been looking at packages that were very costly so I was pleased to find that they offered this. It has some history too so I can see what had been ordered in the past. At least some items. Have been painting, cleaning, organizing, and generally taking care of (or at least noting!) deferred maintenance. We've been able to store some unused equipment, remove some terminally broken stuff and start shopping for new-to-us replacements. We're hoping to eke out more space in storage so everything isn't just a jumble. Buy stock in Costco shelving units now. We just converted an antique cooler into a permanent hot box for chocolate which makes it so they don't have to switch over freezer units to that task in the off season. Baked a morning with the baker. It was a good learning experience for me in using the big equipment and baking on that scale. I didn't master anything, but I feel confident that I could do a bake session by myself if I needed to since she has good recipes and notes. I also think she'll be staying on next season so that leaves me 4 days of baking per week to fill in. We've been open on weekends and generally doing fine on sunny days and not so great on rainy ones. Got the Christmas candy fliers made up and mailed out! My father-out-law is supposed to be working on the online order form. I'm waiting to get control of the website so I can move it to a proper host with merchant services, etc. Meanwhile I've set up a Wordpress blog just to be doing something on that front. I've been looking into some management training/classes at the local colleges. Trying to find something with a price and schedule that suits. I did learn to use the cash register this weekend ... sort of. The list of things to learn seems to grow daily! We've been talking with a local (to our house) pizzeria owner and getting some great mentoring and advice from her. We've also been reading trade mags and websites and getting all the free education that we can. We hope to attend the Pizza Expo with her some year. Stress level is up, sleep level is down, but things are moving along. In February, we start bunny season so we hope to have most of the painting done by then. Hoping to get some time then to focus on the recipes, menu boards and supply side. Thanks for the suggestions of stromboli, topped focaccia and savory pastries. I had been thinking of a Canadian sausage roll too since we're so close to the border. I'm trying to dampen my enthusiasm for adding to the menu right now. But on that note, pizza by the slice or personal size? By the slice doesn't seem to move quickly enough ... In other news, the pullets have started laying!
  6. Thank you for your comments! All have been noted. I think I definitely need to find myself a management course. Sorry for the late reply, we took off for a candy convention and it's all been a whirlwind since then with lots of work up at the shop and plenty in my drafting business as well. It was great to meet chocolatiers from the area and further afield. Lots of support in this industry! Since I last posted, we've had a good look at the books and records for the past decade. The "candy side" numbers are good, but the "cafe side" are, frankly, frightening. COGS = payroll, for one. I will be writing out a business and marketing plan. I hadn't originally planned on it, but it will be useful for us in consolidating our ideas and also communicating the details to his parents and key employees. Naturally, we want their input as well. I think it will also be useful to set a time limit for making the cafe profitable. I'm not really sure how long it will take to turn this ship around. It is currently branded as a nostalgic family destination with homemade products. There is an excellent logo and tagline, and I would like to expand their use more particularly incorporating the logo shape into some products (cookies, dog biscuits, chocolate). There is a color scheme. Mostly just some organization and cohesive in-store labeling is needed. And a logo cookie cutter which I've already requested from the boyfriend. Currently, there is no inventory, recipe book (there is a binder, but there are only about 5 recipes), recipe pricing, sales tracking, price lists or, really, much of anything. I am working on those items as well as reworking the menu a bit. Once I get that done, I can print a new menu and paint a legible menu board. I believe that simply baking daily will help profits substantially. Currently, many customers simply walk out when faced with an empty bake case. I also want to replace wraps with sub sandwiches. Tortillas are not made in house, but rolls are. There has also been inconsistency in the sides so I will be "cafe chef" (their words) and make sure there is stock available so someone doesn't go buy grocery store macaroni salad, for example. With documented recipes, I can hopefully pick an employee and train them as well. One thing that hasn't been done for some reason is promoting the quality of the ingredients used. Since there is no indication, my assumption had been that purchased items (e.g. deli meats) were of the more inexpensive tier. They're actually quite nice and some are even from a local quality sausage company. If *I* didn't know that, then it seems unlikely that many customers do either. The locals know that the whole wheat bread is made from flour that is fresh ground, but probably not that it is local and organic. Tourists certainly don't. Additionally, we want to source more locally (a small farm is already lined up) and generally promote that aspect. Receiving the occasional plop of Reser's salad on your plate doesn't help, however. The competition is interesting. There is a cafe right across the street that seems quite intent on stealing ideas (although his father has been doing some mimicking himself). They're much smaller and seem to be plastered with corporate logos and products (Ivar's, SBC, Dreyer's, Hebrew National, etc.). They have wraps and hotdogs, which is another reason I want to pull those off the menu. They open and close earlier so we can co-exist peacefully since they have stopped sending their customers over to use the bathroom and park along the front of our shop finally. There are a few other cafes along the beach drive, but everyone seems to have a slightly different niche. Our shop is the unique and vibrant one and predictability can be had elsewhere for those that wish it. There is a Subway about 10 miles away in a neighboring town and a Little Caesar's at the other end of the community. Here is some decade-old census info: Total housing units 5,105 Occupied housing units 2,125 Vacant housing units 2,980 (This number is large since they are predominantly vacation rentals) Owner-occupied housing units 1,614 Renter-occupied housing units 511 Since I want to intersperse the boring (spreadsheets, demographics, financial distress) with the creative and interesting, I would like some brainstorming on the construction of the menu board. I had originally thought to do chalkboard paint with paint pens, but the other cafe has a chalkboard menu. Am I too close to their concept? What else can I do? Oh and is it possible to make a good margin on pizza?
  7. ... bakery, deli, and pizzeria! My boyfriend's parents have a chocolate/candy shop and adjunct bakery/deli/pizzeria in a small beach community that they've been operating for 38 years. They're on both sides of 70 and have been wanting to retire for a few years. Since the shop includes a building and property, it has proven to be a difficult business to appraise and sell. After much deliberation, we have decided to take it on instead of allowing it to be closed down. We're just in the preliminary stages of figuring things out, but we'll be transitioning into it over 5 years (or whatever works out) and working our way into an ownership position. We don't have any cash for this so it'll be a combination of sweat equity and inheritance. Accountants and lawyers, etc. are and will be consulted. Currently the business is primarily the "candy side" which does wholesale Easter chocolates and opens for business in May and closes on Labor Day. Hours are 11am-10pm. For the past couple of years, the season has extended to about October being open on the weekends with the addition of espresso and limited baked goods. This is the half that 'makes money' and supports the rest. Most candies are made in house with the exception of a few items such as licorice, jellybeans, etc. There is also ice cream, snow cones, cotton candy and popcorn (reg. & cheese). The "cafe side" is also open seasonally and the same hours. The bakery portion has 3 bake days per week with cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, cookies, turnovers, brownies, and a few breads. The whole wheat is ground fresh from organic wheat for the 100% whole wheat bread. Most of the baked goods are made in house although the brownies are from a mix (Ghiradelli) and the turnovers are frozen puff pastry. There's a dough sheeter, a 20 qt. & 60 qt. Hobarts, a proofing box and a 1908 Edison electric deck oven. There is espresso (Cimballi) and the coffee is roasted in-house by his father. Well, on the back porch. The hope is to get a proper fluid air bed roaster soon. During the day, sandwiches are served and at 5pm pizza on homemade dough. There are about 30-40 seasonal part-time employees with some that have worked there for decades. There is a designated candy maker although during Easter production everyone chips in and most candy side employees are taught some basics such as dipping. My boyfriend grew up in the business and used to be the candy maker and equipment maintenance man. He's been out of it for the past 20 years, but has continued to service some of the old relics. He's an engineer so is well-suited to the latter. I also work in engineering (drafting) and an a passionate home cook and baker. Since the business is operating on a shoestring and now will need to support two families, I will probably be taking on the baker's duties and cooking for the cafe (salads, dressings, pizza sauce, and possibly adding some baked special dinner items) and eventually the books. My boyfriend will be candy making, employee management and customer schmoozing. His parents will be the public face until they expire, we hope. The easy changes are to add bake days which will add traffic to the cafe/bakery side. I'd like to add an artisan sourdough loaf and hold some dough refrigerated for baking off when needed. We're hoping to add a larger ice cream freezer to the cafe side to ease some of that bottleneck on the candy side and draw in people. The menu needs some simplification and, most importantly, needs to be more readable. It also needs a little updating. There are a lot of retirees who appreciate a good bland turkey sandwich or wrap, but there's also vacationers from Seattle who might enjoy some chipotle mayo or tapenade. We need to add some zip without getting too urban or yuppie. Either way, we're at first going to be restricted to inexpensive edits with larger changes coming down the road. This off-season, we'll be painting, repairing, doing inventory, and learning the books and systems. Easter season will plunge us into candy making and I'll have some teaching from a professional baker locally. I will also get a chance to trail the current baker one of these weekends. So what I need to know is what works well as an inventory system. We have discussed a min/max system with simple shelf tags. We also need to track costs with a price book and be able to generate a shopping list. Accounting is in Quickbooks so I had been thinking that there might be an iPhone app out there that could keep a shopping and price list. What works? Is that too complex? There is currently a lot of waste and shopping is somewhat haphazard. Suppliers are Cash & Carry (bulk retailer), Costco, Guittard and Foodservice. The candy side is fine, but the cafe side needs a lot of work in this area. What else should we focus on learning? Should we get some sort of management training? My boyfriend has done project management, but I've been a solo business for the past 14 years. His parents were teachers, and, well, parents, so they're more experienced in that realm than we are. Generally, the long term employees are happy that we're coming on board, but a couple of shift managers are feeling a bit put out. We're being hailed as saviors with some of our obvious ideas that they've been trying to implement for years so that is somewhat understandable. We need to keep feathers smoothed, but also not allow childish territoriality. Sorry this is so long, but it's a bit overwhelming. I know I'll have more questions and am really looking forward to hearing some input from professionals. I would like to turn it into a place that I'd be proud to pimp on eGullet.
  8. In 2007, I will eat even more foods directly purchased from local ranchers and farmers. I will finally make doughnuts fried in lard that I rendered myself, but not too often. I will also render tallow for french fries. I will find morels, chantarelles and boletes in the forest! I will learn how to make my own puff pastry. This is the year I will try to grow more of our own food. I will, however, realize that I cannot win to the slugs with some things and enjoy the greens, carrots and radishes from the CSA box and not feel like a failure about it. I will taste more new wild foods that we can forage ourselves. I will use my preserving equipment (pressure and water bath canners, steam juicer, dehydrator, smokers and vacuum sealer) more than I do to save our seasonal bounty (and money). I will give the cookbooks that I don't regularly use to our local library. I will remind him that I love him more often. We will hike more and pick enough nettles, mushrooms, rosehips, berries, and other small forest denizens for our winter larder. My kid will not greet people by sniffing them inappropriately, or not, since that's what dogs of a certain size tend to do. I will continue to apologize profusely and do my best to prevent it. I will teach myself how to make charcuterie. I will continue to advocate supporting our family farms. I will read more novels and less non-fiction.
  9. Saara

    Nutcrackers

    Nutcracker I have one in this style that was made in France and purchased for me in Germany. I love it! It cracks all the nuts, even hazelnuts, without spraying nuts and shells all over. It has a good record of cracking the shell and leaving the nut whole as well. Not too much force is required for even hard nuts. I highly recommend this type of nutcracker, but I have no experience with that particular brand or that online store.
  10. Pizza Factory is what it is so if you like that then I don't imagine it's any different than any other Pizza Factory in the nation. Village is good standard pizza. At least when I last had it. I remember going there when I was in high school which is ... umm ... 20+ years ago so they're doing something right! Would be my choice of the two. Hong Kong is typical greasy Cantonese American, more focus is on the cocktail lounge. Haven't tried Lucky Chopsticks. I think it might have been replaced by something else similar in the same location. It's next to Compass Wines which Rockdoggydog mentioned. There's a Thai takeout place on 31st & Commercial which I've heard good things about, but haven't tried. Esteban's is good for Mexican-American. They have a takeout/burrito type store on 27th (?) and a regular restaurant in the middle of the 14th block. Navigation tip: Commercial Avenue is about 35th Street at the top where you turn off the highway and descends heading north to 1st at the Port docks. Driving Commercial back and forth as a teen was called "dragging the gut".
  11. Good news! Cliff Mass just promised a warmish, dryish month to come so the tomatoes still have some hope. I hope the same holds true for here in the foothills, but I'm not putting my raingear away. I'll be sowing favas next month in an attempt to get a spring crop and condition the soil a bit. I still have half my spuds in the ground as well. I'll be digging them as soon as it's not so muddy. If sowing now, you don't need to do anything for them although heavy mulching would be a good idea. They won't come up until spring.
  12. If you have the room you can also cut the tomatoes at the base and hang them upside down in the windows. I had "tomato drapes" one fall when we had an early frost. Most of the tomatoes ripened quite nicely. The method may not be a good idea if you entertain a lot.
  13. Don't give up on the tomatoes yet! All mine were green until last week and now they've suddenly been ripening. This is the first year at the new place (been here 3) that I've actually had tomatoes ripen. It's exciting. Last year I made an Indian green tomato chutney which turned out quite nice. It was a great alternative to fried green tomatoes. Sounds like you've put in quite a bit. I hope it all grows well for you! This is my first year that I'm really attempting anything so I'll just have to see. I think I'll plant more spinach too while it's still warm enough to germinate. Seems like there might be a bit of a shortage of that for a bit.
  14. Last week I planted out cauliflower and kale under a cloche. I still have to set out broccoli and chard in the same manner. Mustard greens, radishes, parsnips, lettuce and carrots have come up. I'm waiting to see if some later seeded carrots will germinate in my season extender greenhouse. I'll also be bringing inside my chile plants (2 seasons old now) and an eggplant that is just now flowering. I've freshly seeded some basil pots to bring in. I'm considering sowing some favas now for next year and I'll be planting some garlic soon as well. The promise of an El Nino winter has me thinking about trying a few things just to see what happens.
  15. Gere-a-deli at the corner of 5th & Commercial. Excellent sandwiches and treats for both kid and parent tastes. They're only open during the day so keep that in mind. Grab a menu and next time you can call your order in ahead. I was just having a Supremo craving the other day.
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