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Mel's New Bakery


melmck
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hell, we haven't even touched down on women's pain/discomfort during menstruation! or enodometriosis, in my case.

Hey Mel, me too. It's why I don't have any kids of my own. Cats will have to do!

I hear you about the whiners. There are definitely people out there who will grasp at any excuse to call in sick. The habitual offenders.....the only thing you can depend on them for is their bi-weekly phone call. Bi-weekly if you're lucky, anyway.

This may sound cold hearted, but I always sort of have a problem with the "my kid is sick" excuse. Once in a while, ok, but geez, I've had parents of elementary school kids stay home

for every sniffle, and this happens a LOT. It seems to me kids are sicker these days. When I

was little I maybe had to stay home once a year. My stepson stayed home probably 10 different times last year.....I thought that was a little weird, but my husband lets him stay home if he says "I'm sick." If I told my parents I was sick, they always put a thermometer in my mouth. If it read normal, off to school I went. Of course I wasn't devious enough to hold hot water in my mouth to make it read high or anything. Anyway, I'm rambling.......!

P.S. I got a couple good laughs out of your post Annie.

Glad I could make you chuckle! Sometimes, all you can do is laugh at this crazy world! :laugh:

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chefpeon- girrrrrrrrrl, we need a drink!! yep, I can't have kids either. So I had a 2700 sq ft bakery and 7 employees instead. (plus 5 nephews, 1 niece)

I used to hold the thermometer against a light bulb.....on gym day.

another thing I don't get about "that was then" when I was growing up in Ohio we used to have 3 feet of snow and never once got a 'snow day' from school.what the hell? now flakes fall and people run for the hills to stock up like survivalists. Wussies! wussies I tells ya.

If you wanted to take the past few topics and condense them it boils down to-- This Is No Place for the Weak!! To work these jobs we do, unless you are cushed out, we must possess physical stamina, mental clarity, emotional balance. Motivation. Sure, you can pull it off if you are a nutcase. or an alcoholic. or whatever! I may become one of those yet......

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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This may sound cold hearted, but I always sort of have a problem with the "my kid is sick" excuse. Once in a while, ok, but geez, I've had parents of elementary school kids stay home

for every sniffle, and this happens a LOT. It seems to me kids are sicker these days.

A lot of parents agree with you, but have no choice in the matter because some schools have very rigid rules about sending kids home under certain conditions.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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I just scrolled through some of the early entries in my blog, and I feel like a different person now. In the beginning, it's exciting, I had energy/optimism. and pre-conceived notions. Now that they've all beeen smashed to bits, I simply deal with each day, each of the several tasks at hand at every moment.. I look back and see where I was stressed out, where I was exhausted, where I was unmotivated, and now we are definitely in a groove, a routine if you will-- all days lead up to Saturday, the biggest day. It's all about Saturday and SUnday.

It's odd to be in the public eye as well, and to be complimented so frequently. I have been arrogant at times in my life, mostly because I am confident and know that what I am doing is really good stuff.but when it comes down to it I still say awww shucks. I'm still a dork who plays air guitar to AC/DC, The Scorpions and Rush when driving , duh.

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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I had an employee who called in sick almost every other Friday. So I just changed her schedule so she had every other Friday off. She didn't like it very much, but it was easier to manage a planned absence than the 5AM phone calls.

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It's all about Saturday and SUnday.

Ain't that the FREAKING truth!!!! Sometimes I think 5 days ain't enough to prepare for the weekend! My husband is a teacher and weekends are all he has, he knows my career requires

weekends (and all summer), so he's not real happy about that. But, it's either that, or live in

a box under the freeway.....gotta pay the man!

Now that I'm a stepmom, I would say if I had to choose between having kids and and bakery with 7 employees, I'd take the bakery! Kids are harder.....and you can't fire them! :raz:

A lot of parents agree with you, but have no choice in the matter because some schools have very rigid rules about sending kids home under certain conditions.

Seth, I know what you mean....my husband is a teacher, so I know all the school policies that exist. We live in a much more paranoid world now, which is sad and unfortunate. These policies are meant to "protect" but wreak havoc in other ways. It's hard enough to make a living and

support a family, and there you are, losing a day's pay, because your kid has a runny nose, or because he was sent home after being found with an aspirin bottle in his pocket.....the school

has a "zero tolerance" policy on drugs.....and it includes aspirin. So they get suspended. Talk about taking stuff too far!

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I like the comment about putting the note away for 20 years...

I finally finished with bakery stuff a week ago this monday and can't believe how happy it makes me.

Of course, I did my last week with a hellaicous cold, complete with snotty nose, etc., but, anything not to let the folks down.

Then my daughter was exposed to strep at school and had a few of the symptoms but when we took her to the Dr., the doc said nothing was showing yet.

Meanwhile, my cold was still bad and I had a sore throat on top of it, who knew if I had strep, was contagious ?

I went ahead and went to work, feeling very guilty about possibly getting all kinds of people fucked up but NOT wanting to piss anyone off, rock the boat, inconvience people, you get my drift.

Sorry, but I think it's crap to expect people to work sick, always will.

If someone is always sick, get rid of them but most people need the money too badly to not work, so if they call in, maybe they deserve a break?

And, if someone parties for 48 hours and calls in, they deserve to get shown the door.

2317/5000

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true enough about the kids, Anne.

I am very impatient for rhubarb to hurry up and get its butt in here. I am dying for rhubarb!!!

I am applying for a booth at the Portland Farmer's Market. I think it will not only be fun, because market setiings are so cool; but also be great exposure and I should make good sales. Then I can grab my produce right there & then. (well, whoever works it!) I wish I could but that won't be possible for a while.

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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My parents did the weekend market "thing" for a while when they had their bakery. Ultimately they gave it up, as the extra work was disproportionate to the extra income. Of course, your mileage may vary.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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I used to particapate in open fairs (of sorts) when I was a working artist. My experience was they varied GREATLY in sales and parts of the Country!

The predictor for me was the numbers of people that attend the event. Any event that boasted huged numbers like 100,000 people or more during the event always gave me huge sales because it was in proportion to the number of people attending. If this is a busy market, make certain you go in with enough product and helpers to be professional.

Another factor was who's new. Whom ever is "new" in a long standing event will get alot of activity as people check them out. But that fades after a while. So you may have a HUGE first show in sales and then die down over time. That kept you always seeking new venues. Appearances are everything too (just like your bakery). You gotta look great and most importantly act upbeat and open. Nothings worse then a sales person moping around or ignoring people....so don't send a dummy to represent you.

The amount of money charged to particapate in events usually WAS a predictor in how much money you'd make at an event. Shows that charged huge enterance fees actually gave me huge profits and therefore I thought particpating with them was well worth the huge fees (sometimes the fees were painfully huge but I made huge amounts of money in relation). Events that charged small enterence fees gave small returns.

Regardless of where these events were held (a wealthy area or middle income) or if it was a big or small sized event. In the end the promoters did know their events and they did know how much to charge for enterance fees based on how active sales have always been at their events. You don't always have to have a huge crowd of people to make alot of sales.........if the people like your product you'll make money. Sometimes you just jived in a location with those people.

I really had a great time particpating in these open air events the atmosphere is fun!!! It could turn out to be a wonderful outlet for your Mel. If you can, don't sign a long term contract for the space until you've done it a few times.

Good Luck and don't forget to take lots of photos for us to see, please?!

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our markets are particularly cool. and I can't wait for the Portland Public Market to get going(like Pike Place, sans Puget Sound) as I would like to be a part of that as well. Pike Place was very influential on me as a chef. Cooking from the market was deeply ingrained in me, which is why earlier in the thread I was expressing my views about out of season/imported produce. What we can't actually grow here, yes we import. But everything else has to damn well wait til it's ready. *tapping fingers* there are several markets around town, and one close to my neighborhood actually, but I know wouldn't be as worth it as the downtown Park Blocks on Saturdays. Masses, throngs of people. No fee to get in , it's a farmer's market! People go to spend money, shop, enjoy the beauty of the location, and soak in the vibe. There are two other bakeries that were there last year, they probably will be again. One has kind of basic staple items, the other chi-chi patisserie. I fall in the middle with a unique mix of rustic/chichi. Plus anything I can sell I will ! Preserves, sauces, snacks, etc. The downtown crowd has a much better demographic as well. and will be good exposure to those across the river, up in the hills.

so we'll see how it goes!

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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Spare Change for World Pastry Cup!!! I want to go, it would be super-cool, but I gots no $$$ for that. I am going to do a new thread, maybe someone will take pity and pay the $2000 tuition for me!! Help, people, I'm not making any money yet!!!

You may have noticed there's a few topics I leave out from this blog:

Finances

Specific problems with employees

Names

ya know, stuff that could land my @$$ in *%$@.

I decided that I would say this though, regarding finances- no I personally am not making any money yet. I have been sans salary for over a year now. Needless to say it is very hard on the personal finances. I did speak with various bakery owners pre-start-up and they all said the same, didn't really get paid the first year.

I want to be out of bakery debt more than anything, and I would rather be personally 'po folk' and get the bills out of the way.

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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I was just thinking today, the prize should really be a lot more than 50k. I mean baseball players are making p to 20mil a year. But the best in our field can't break 100grand. I mean, split 4 ways plus all expenses to practice/equipment and to get there is outrageous. You pretty much have to be corporate funded.

I think we should all do our part to push advertisement on competitions. We always keep it amongst ourselves as if the average person won't appreciate it. I am constantly telling my freinds/family to tune and check it out because I know they'll be interested.

Oh yea mel, sorry to hear of the struggle. But look on the bright side, your equipment isn't starting to break down left and right like a 10 year old project.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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hey it's all a struggle. I accept it. oh,and basically every piece of equipment I have has broken down and needed thousands in repair! you know, I can't even get upset any more, just move forward, try to fix it myself and call for help when I need it!

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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Wow - I just found this place accidentally, but I am so glad I did. It has been a real treat to read this thread. As an owner - (with my husband) - of a small breakfast/lunch cafe and a former pastry chef, I have really enjoyed a feeling of comraderie with you, melmck, and I'm so glad to hear things are going well for you! Just reading your story feels like validation for the way we run our place. Hard work and a comittment to quality ingredients and customer service combined with a little smarts and you've got a successful business! It does work!

Our place has been open for 4-1/2 years now, and things have settled into a fairly predictable pattern - hard work, long hours, government/tax/financial irritations, employee surprises, customer compliments and complaints, etc., but everyday I still feel like it is infinitely better than working for someone else. I never want to go back to that. Ever. I consider it one of the biggest blessings of our lives that we get to earn our living this way.

I had to laugh at your descriptions of the merchant services vultures. That's really the only word for them, isn't it? We just went through another round of confirming our decision to not accept cards. We're going to hold out as long as we can. We have a customer who is a rep and he set up a pretty good deal for us with a free machine, etc,etc, but so far, we just can't see where the cost is going to benefit us. We analyzed our transactions in detail, and the actual costs were going to be way higher than he estimated (surprise!). He kept telling us how many new people we'd get in if we just accepted cards, but we're full with a waiting list for the vast majority of the hours we are open, so where would we put them? I know we can always use new customers, but I just don't believe that's the way we need to get them. Anyway - it reinforced our belief that we have to stick to our instincts in such situations. Don't let anyone push you in a direction that doesn't feel right.

Thanks for sharing your experience here - it's been great!

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Best lesson learned about employees who show up for their first day of work in flip flops? Don't send the home to change their shoes - just send them home for good - it'll save you having to fire them weeks (or months) later when you realize that their choice of footwear really is an indication of their overall intelligence. :rolleyes:

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It's always nice to receive great press.

Congratulations.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Very nice recognition.

Also, off topic. I've noticed we have a lot of people here from the west coast. Especially Northwest Corridor. You guys are lucky to have so much here thats close to home.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Thanks for posting the link! Yes I am very happy with it, except for the dumb picture which looks like I'm lurching in to the case! And one mistake saying I taught myself to bake AFTER working everywhere in town- hardly makes sense! hey it's OK, it's gonna be a slammin weekend, Thank you Nancy!!!!

So right in the midst of getting busier and busier, my favorite french dude up and vamooses to Vegas, for a great job. (Neil- keep your eye out for Emmanuel-- he smokes 12 cigarettes at once!) (kidding) we will miss him terribly, he really helped me get this place going... :sad:

I found someone good so I don't expect any serious problems with inconsistency, he has jumped right in and is doing fine.

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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