Local Artisan Bread & Patisserie

Monthly archive for April 2014

Half a dozen of the other after nearly one month

Half a dozen of the other after nearly one month

 

On the one hand we are so happy that there’s been super-positives since we opened – here we  blogged about Six of them.  On the other hand, it’s been Half a Dozen of the other for Rex Bakery with some real “challenges”.  Let’s be honest with you and share 6 of those:

1. Hours.  Everyone says that owning your own business is punishing & Always On – but this has been something quite unexpected.  The Rex Baker was working 18-20 hours days that started at 1am to begin with!   Err.. that’s unsustainable.    Figuring out the rhythm of the business and the ebb’s & flow’s (we joke that there’s not a lot of ebb’s…) has taken a while, and then Easter holidays are another factor to try to fathom, but we just got through it all.  Little Chalfont Parade is a

pulled pork sandwiches

Rex sandwiches

surprisingly busy location thanks to through traffic – people driving through to work who stop to pick up a sandwich early in the day; and after school customers – and can be very busy indeed at lunchtimes so we are rapidly scaling up production & staff to meet these various demand peaks.  So whilst we are now open 7-5 Tues-Fri and 8-4 normal Saturdays, we are assessing whether these are the right times & how to adjust as we go.

 

2. Production planning.  This is so difficult to call!  Our model, like traditional bakeries of your & your parents’ youth, is to hand make & produce everything early on the day of sale.    Even though you as good Friends of Rex can freeze pretty much anything you buy from us, we aren’t going to freeze our bread & buns to sell to you on another day. That wouldn’t be offering you something world-class right here in our own local community!!  That means we have had a few instances of selling out of popular lines, especially breads on Saturday already.  We’ve had others times when we’ve had leftovers.  Apart from feeding the perennially hungry Rex Baker’s family & giving away to the staff, we have struck up a great relationship with a local organic duck farmer and have a duck egg exchange going.  That means remarkably well fed ducks in return for wonderful duck eggs!  And at Saturday teatimes we have dropped buns at the nearby Paradigm common room for the OAPs to enjoy.  Apple, Bran & Sultana Muffin , anybody?

 

apple, bran & sultana muffins

apple, bran & sultana muffins

3. IT.    We are all – and we count you as good Friends of Rex Bakery – waiting in anticipation for the professional till to come on-stream.   It is some way away still  but at that point we will have fast calculation & printing of your order for clipping to your bag together with an alert through to the data centre on ingredient usage, sales trends to help with staffing & producing planning and of course the ability to take card payments.  Right now we are causing a queue to the cash machine outside our shop!!  Cash will always be most welcome but we are looking forward to being open for card payments too.   Further, we still don’t have our click & collect website up & running and we know you loyal Friends of Rex must be missing securing your orders – you can blame the Rex Baker’s wife, so sorry 🙁   Her lame excuse?  A very full time “day” job with a lot of travel and not enough hours in the day…. thank goodness that social media & digital properties can be updated pretty much at any time on the fly!!     We are very sorry & please feel free to email us if you need to make sure there is a Saturday order waiting for you meantime.

 

4. Money change.  We must be an unpopular business with our shop neighbours for sure, because to begin with we totally underestimated the usage of notes & how scarce pound coins and other change is.  That meant we were hounding the Post Office & other shops for change all day long – not appreciating that every transaction (like pretty much everything else you care to think of when running a business…) is fully chargeable & subject to exhausting levels of bank scrutiny to ensure this isn’t some money laundering scam.   It required some sweet-talking buns to maintain good relationships!!  And a lot of hassling the bank to speed up their “service” to us.

 5. “Stuff & stock” – we have had to emergency secure so many items we learnt about in the opening days.  Storage of just baked loaves, sandwich prep table, announcement blackboards, suddenly & without warning running out of pain au chocolat logs of chocolate; sugar; coffee beans due to such unexpected demand!!   We are going through our brown paperRex signature paper bag

bags at an insanely fast rate & have yet another urgent replenishment order on the way.   And of course they all need their signature little Rex yellow triangles stapled on…  We needed Spray guns for our smell-free food-safe commercial disinfectants, specific cleaning cloths for different jobs, more serving knives, an industrial mop, to buy our own recycling bin service as the rates/ council secures honestly a big fat nothing for businesses – and the list goes on…

6. Utilities.  Oh yes, still that subject.  We’ve had heat alarms going off in the middle of the night (err, it’s a bakery – no surprises there then), ovens smoking through spillage, sounds travelling, lack of power points…   Above all, the new “double glazing cold callers” have revealed themselves.  What nobody tells you is that when you open a business, expect 40+ calls a day from folks trying to sell you an energy deal. And “No Thank You, I’m sorted” doesn’t seem to wash….

We think everything may take months before it’s really running smoothly.
So please keep with us!  At least the bread, the pastries, the concept & the decor are hitting the spot with so many of you!

We really want to thank all you Loyal friends of Rex Bakery for your ongoing patience & support during these opening weeks – you are FANTASTIC!!! xx

rex bread display

 

 

Now it’s real for Rex Artisan Bakery – and it’s Six of one….

We have just had our 3rd working Saturday & 2 full weeks of Rex Artisan Bakery shop open to the public.  Whoop whoop!

Everybody asks us how it’s going so we thought we should share some of the up’s (& then in another blog, the down’s) of the 1st few weeks.

On the one hand, there’s been lots & lots of Up’s –

1. Rex sausage rollWe are a bakery 1st & foremost 🙂 It’s a huge relief that baking at scale is attracting the same (if not stronger!) lovely feedback on taste, texture & real-ness of the baked items on offer.    That’s where it begins & ends really, we designed our food to be world-class.  Sausage rolls are a good example – always a sell out favourite at the pop up, it’s quite mind boggling how many we are producing & selling within days of opening.  Just today a lovely customer returned after munching his morning buy during a dog walk to say “That’s the best sausage roll I have ever tasted in all my life.  I just had to come back & buy 2 more to let my wife taste one”  (hoping for his sake that the 2nd was saved back at home for him….)

2Business is also pretty critical 🙂  Thank goodness for see the giant & steady footfall into the shop.  Weekdays are bigger than we ever imagined possible and late morning on Saturday is so busy that 5 of us serve you flat out & yet there was still a queue out the door.  So yes, this is more than a viable business proposition, we have exceeded plan already & we only just got started!!

 

Rex coffee cup3. Coffee.  We love the taste of Monmouth coffee which we selected for the shop, and with experienced baristas to serve you who have received further expert barista training, and delicious full-bodied healthy local Guernsey cow milk – we know that what’s on offer is quite simply the best British coffee you can buy locally.  Several lovely Friends of Rex are going out of their way to buy their coffee-to-go from us as a result, and many others are enjoying a sit-down in the cafe.  That said, we have had people walking in to try a taster sample carrying – shock horror – a well known high street burgundy-branded coffee cup from further down the parade!!!  We’re sure those folks will think to convert in good time…  especially if they want to enjoy any more of Rex samples haha.

4. New products.  We have extended our range of Sourdoughs significantly since opening – in particular Oat, Groat & Sesame Sourdough, Hazlenut & Apricot and Pumpkin seed & poppyseed.  All of them sell out fast, it’s fantastic to witness the support for Sourdoughs in Little Chalfont.  These past 2 weeks have also seen the launch of some delicious new sweet delights including, to rave reviews, Luminettes (a croissant dough shaped like a pair of glasses filled with home-made luminettescreme patissiere and pieces of Belgian Callebaut chocolate); Vanilla Shortbread and of course the eponymous Hot Cross buns – with & without added apple!!

5. A community service.  We have had some lovely comments about how much Little Chalfont had been waiting for an artisan bakery, how we are enhancing the parade, making people’s daily lives happier.  And most excitingly, one customer told us that he had now abandoned driving to his previous weekly shop in Chorleywood in favour of walking round the corner to all the shops in the Parade for everything that he needed – he hadn’t been able to do that previously because he had missed the real bread.

6. Decor.  As Loyal Friends of Rex many of you have followed our blog, and so know the thought & time (& argh, money!!)  that went into creating the space in No. 4 Chenies Parade.  It’s so gratifying to hear that many of you love the use of oak & reclaimed wood, the colours, the tiles, the lights, even the funky scaffolding for the shelving!   And that seeing through to the real working bakery & all our ovens & equipment is an added bonus, just as planned 🙂

So the six of one story gives us tremendous confidence, hooray!

But we have to be honest, on the other hand there have been challenges as well – our till system & card payments still aren’t live, working out the rhythm of the village & product demand etc etc.  We’ll tell you about the “half a dozen of the other” very soon when we have solutions!!

Rex artisan bakery frontage, front of shop
Meanwhile, we really want to thank all you Loyal friends of Rex Bakery for your ongoing patience & support – you are FANTASTIC!!!  Please keep with us xx