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What are local bakeries lacking?


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I have been involved in the triangle restaurant/food community for well over a decade now, and I still see significant gaps in what the area offers in terms of bakeries, pastries, etc. I 'd like to know what the rest of you think...am I just expecting too much? I currently do custom baking from my home, and have always toyed with the idea of opening a bake shop, but are there no really great ones because this area couldn't support it? Does it always have to be attached to a cafe/prepared food establishment in order to be profitable? What do you guys do for birthday cakes???

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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I've used Guglhupf for a few birthday cakes and I've used you for birthday cupcakes, but I have to say that generally I just don't think about buying cakes. That may be because it isn't on my radar and if it was I'd shop differently, but that's a big leap. My wife discovered two years ago that she's allergic to wheat, so that also puts a stop to pastry shopping for fun and weight gain unless I'm buying just for myself and that's rare. I do love a good sweet treat after a bike ride though.

In Kansas City where I grew up we had the most wonderful French Bakery, Napoleon's. I was fortunate enough to have a girlfriend who worked there and was regularly given huge bags of end of day bread and treats by the owners. Ah, the memories.

I can guarantee you one customer.

Edited by bandregg (log)

Bryan C. Andregg

"Give us an old, black man singing the blues and some beer. I'll provide the BBQ."

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In Carrboro, birthday cakes come from Weaver Street Market. You can even get wheat-free ones. They have a pretty good bakeshop, but were it not attached to the market, I don't know how it would do. Definitely has a following, though.

It would be nice to have a bakery in Chapel Hill, but between Weaver Street and Whole Foods, I don't know how well it would do. People like that one-stop shopping.

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I have been involved in the triangle restaurant/food community for well over a decade now, and I still see significant gaps in what the area offers in terms of bakeries, pastries, etc. I 'd like to know what the rest of you think...am I just expecting too much? I currently do custom baking from my home, and have always toyed with the idea of opeing a bake shop, but are there no really great ones because this area couldn't support it? Does it always have to be attached to a cafe/prepared food establishment in order to be profitable? What do you guys do for birthday cakes???

I bake my own cakes, pies, cookies, although my real interest is in yeast breads. You might say this is my hobby. I doubt that I would patronize a bakery; indeed, I've never set foot in Hereghty's (sp?) which is only about a mile from my house. My hub, a Moravian from Winston-Salem, has always lamented that Raleigh doesn't have a baking establishment like Dewey's.

Judging from comments from neighbors/family/others who cross my path, I believe myself to be in the minority when I say I do most of my own baking (yes, I do buy some bread at the grocery store)...that said, I have to think a good locally-owned bakeshop with reasonably priced products would do well.

Edited by foodiehall (log)

CBHall

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Is it a 'if you build it they will come' kinda thing? Will cases of REAL buttercream frosted homey cakes and truely seasonal, golden fruit pies and tarts (unlike the insipid apricot puree-glazed, whatever-Ford's-produce-has-on-special-this-week-from-Argentina fare we've all seen around) incite the masses to abandon their low carb/all-in-one-place spending and return them to a single vendor style of food shopping?

Am I dreaming?

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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Is it a 'if you build it they will come' kinda thing? Will cases of REAL buttercream frosted homey cakes and truely seasonal, golden fruit pies and tarts (unlike the insipid apricot puree-glazed, whatever-Ford's-produce-has-on-special-this-week-from-Argentina fare we've all seen around) incite the masses to abandon their low carb/all-in-one-place spending and return them to a single vendor style of food shopping?

Am I dreaming?

I would imagine the best chance of something like that happening is for mini gourmet "malls", like those in Oakland and Berkeley CA to start sprouting up. Since this is such a driving oriented community, it's just really hard to get people to go all over the place to pick up their provisions. I despise the bread at Whole Foods, but have bought it on plenty of occasions simply because we were there and couldn't stomach the hassle of driving elsewhere for just one thing. We try to think ahead a stop in at specialty shops when we're in the area, but it doesn't always work that way.

Those "malls" I speak of were typically a collection of independant high end food stores anchored by a restaurant. Thus, the convenience of one stop shopping coupled with the quality that only comes from buying fish from a fishmonger, pastries from a baker, wine from a wine shop, etc. I think the area is getting ready to support these things.

That, of course, is only part of the issue. The hard part is determining how many people actually share your opinion that local bakeries are, in fact, lacking. Unfortunately, all you need to do is check the number of glowing reviews about Mad Hatters on City Search to see that plenty of people don't have very high standards. Thus, it may be tough to convince enough people to spend a few bucks more and/or go out of their way to buy something that isn't necessarily perceptively better to them. That's a bit defeatist, I know, but the slim margins in this industry require that you take a very hard look at what quality level people are willing to pay a premium for. More importantly, how many of them are there.

The vocal minority may pine for true Parisian macroons, but they'd better be willing to come in several times a week for them if they want you to stay in business for more than a few months. Many, of course, likely just want one every now and then but want to know that some quixotic baker is waiting there for them when they want a fix.

Certainly the landscape is changing and I also think that the fact that Guglhupf has a line out the door most of the day is an encouraging sign. In the right location, you could have something. As a food lover, it is certainly in my best interest to encourage people to offer things like that you're describing. However, I also know the enormous risks involved and hate to see people either fail or become reluctant martyrs, so I beg of them to take a long look at it.

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Phlawless,

Have you considered setting up a table at one of the Farmer's markets? The baker that sells the sweet and savory empanadas at the Durham Farmers Market does a killing. She seems to always be completely sold out by Noon. You may be able to gauge the interest in that setting. Of course I would recommend the Durham Farmers Market since I live in Durham and would love the idea of buying pies or tarts while picking up my fruits and vegetables.

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I have, Chops. However, the DFM requires all vendors selling prepared foods to be working out of health department inspected kitchens. And, pssst...I am not!

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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Phoebe,

If you want to sell at the DFM and you need an inspected kitchen have you considered talking to one of the other baked good vendors, or someone like the guys in the Pop's bakery about renting time in their kitchens? I sorely miss phoebecakes but I'll be honest, I wouldn't keep a bakery in business with my custom.

Bryan C. Andregg

"Give us an old, black man singing the blues and some beer. I'll provide the BBQ."

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whatever-Ford's-produce-has-on-special-this-week-from-Argentina fare we've all seen around)

:laugh: No Kidding!!

BTW, did y'all see where Pop's is going to expand their bakery and open it to the public? It was in last week's Independent food pull-out.

So maybe Durham is ready for a real bakery, but Pop's might have beat you to the punch. :sad:

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It's my understanding that Pop's bakery is going to focus on the products that they already make (read: breads) and make those available to the public as well. They'll probably also turn out some sweets, but I doubt that they'll make the jump to real pastries and cakes.

Bryan C. Andregg

"Give us an old, black man singing the blues and some beer. I'll provide the BBQ."

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Are there any good French or Italian bakeries in the Triangle now? Good French or Italian bakeries have many smaller non-cake items that I would purchase frequently.

I love Southern baked goods but personally I tend to bake Southern pies and cakes at home quite a bit. That doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of people in a different demographic than me, but I guess I tend to buy pastries rather than cakes or pies from bakeries.

That being said, there are probably lots of people that don't bake enough to make homemade Southern caramel cakes, coconut cakes, fresh orange cake or fried fruit pies, for example. I could almost picture a bakery anchored with these items since they are more time intensive but could also potentially be quite popular. The two cakes seem like they would be a natural for birthdays or other celebrations. The fried fruit pies, as a smaller item, might bring in more frequent buyers.

The other item that is really diffcult to find well done anywhere in the country are very good breakfast danishes and/or cinnamon rolls. These might also bring in a lot of repeat business if they are done well for the right price.

As someone who bakes alot, the other thing that would bring me in (besides items for takeout like fried pies, danishes and cinnamon rolls that I don't really bake at home) would be if the pastry shop had a spot for eating items in house with a cup of coffee or tea. For someone who bakes, that would also bring me in for slices of cake, etc. that I might usually make at home.

In any case, I guess there are more people who don't bake than do, so my comments are probably not too helpful.

Disclaimer: I lived in the Triangle for awhile but am not there now.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Gourmandises de France seems to be doing fine. More a pastry shop than a bakery, but small, independent, not attached/associated with a restaurant.

It's in a strip mall anchored by a Food Lion at Creedmoor and Milbrook. Their location probably didn't hurt - the part of Raleigh between Lynn and 540 has added thousands of homes since they opened and there wasn't/isn't anything like it nearby.

http://www.gourmandisesdefrance.com

I bet if you could open a bakery near the Harris Teeter at 540/Leesville you'd do okay. There's also a new Lowes grocery store nearby, but it doesn't have the traffic that HT does yet. The suburbs aren't cool, but there sure are a lot of potential customers nearby.

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Hereghty's in Glenwood Village S.C. (right inside the beltline on Glenwood) is a new, indy French pastry shop. Thier pastries, especially thier cheese danish, as well as their small cakes, are incredible. I am often in there for coffee and a "little something" and it is the place of choice for party cakes for us now.

With their addition to our end of Raleigh, the only thing I am lacking is a good source for bread, other than my kitchen and Whole Foods (which is better than nothing, but not THAT great). We get it from La Farm when we are at the Farmer's Market, but won't venture as far as Cary for it. I wish there were a good bake shop in ITB Raleigh.

Edited by VaNC (log)
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