Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A year on at the Cafe

There's a whole bunch of photos going up on our Facebook page taken over our first year at the bakery. They tell a fascinating story of the little bakery that "thought it could".

It's quite amazing to observe over that time how we've been able to apply the 'cooperative capital' principle to getting this little bakery and cafe equipped and set up. Remember, we came in with virtually nothing - just human capital, and some pocket money gathered here and there. As we have continued and grown, angel investors have dropped from the sky just enough capital investment to help us get to the next stage of our journey. From this we have purchased equipment, including:
  • our woodfired oven, Bertha,
  • the spiral mixer, known as crazy Chuck,
  • a hot food display, 
  • some racking and storage equipment,
  • half a coolroom, 
  • some fridges, 
  • lots of utensils,
  • specialist sole baking gear, 
  • a roof mounted ventilation fan, 
  • lots and lots of bricks, river sand and clay
  • custom made steel bits for Bertha
  • kitchen equipment
  • a cafe refit, tables, chairs and signs...
Essentially, we think we're about three quarters done, with a solid base of bakery and cafe infrastructure to work with. We can easily pump out two to three hundred units of bakery product on any given day, with plenty of scope for other things to add in to Bertha's day as we go along.

Essentially, if you look at our woodfired oven as a constant heat source, we have to utilise the heat twenty four hours a day for Bertha to be most efficient. And, already we utilise about 18 hours in one deck, and about three or four in the other. So we still have plenty of capacity. This means, effectively, that we use the heat for different things at different times, constantly juggling customer demand with available heat.

Now we have to build our customer base. This base is already quite broad, with people visiting from all over the place. We're based near serviced apartments and motels in the West End of Newcastle. There are always people from out of town dropping in. We have loyal Novacastrians from all over finding excuses to pop into the city so they can also pick up a fresh loaf of sourdough. We have office and retail workers from the small businesses nearby dropping in for a soup or a sandwich. There are students from the TAFE visual arts facility dropping in for chai, and from the other TAFE campus up the road grabbing an espresso and  BLT before hospitality class. But it's small beer compared with our neighbours in Darby or Beaumont streets, who grab the lion's share of Newcastle's mainstreet action - Newcastle being as it is a 'Mall city'...

So work needs to be done long term on the West End, so that people will return here - and there is some movement to that end in the works. But we still have plenty to do in telling people about what we are doing, and why they should bother with us.

1 comment:

  1. I am excited by your oportunities Waz and though I live away from the West end and out in Maitland a visit to the cafe is in my bucket list
    Great good luck with your project