Food Blogger 411

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One of the food blogs that I always enjoy is Pinch of Yum.  Lindsay makes reading entertaining and always has yummy recipes to share.  Her husband, Bjork, does an analysis of their site traffic, revenues, etc. each month which is always super interesting.  So, if you are a food blogger or a wannabe, you should check out their new…

Pinch of Yum

It’s a subscription service promising to share with you a thing or two about making your food blog a success.  I have no doubt it will be worth your while.  If not your poison, you should definitely check out the Pinch of Yum blog for a plain-old good read.

Journey of Opening a Bakery Part 7: Our Coffee Roaster Revealed

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Let’s be honest.  Coffee, makes our day go round (for many of us).  It pushes us into motion with a large dose of oomph.  If its missing, our day can be lackluster, achy, and even socially a snooze.

Coffee isn’t just something we pump into our body as brain fuel, though that’s part of it.  Our palate requests it on a daily basis because it tastes so good (and it celebrates when an exemplary cup has been sipped).  Our spirit requests it frequently to satisfy its ritualistic and social needs.  I mean, wouldn’t your day be slightly less complete if you had to skip your morning coffee stop where everybody knows your name??

That said, we know that coffee is an important part of our formula.  A bakery is often a morning stop for people and people have limited time in the morning for stops.  So, in the name of convenience, it only makes sense that we’d have coffee.  Plus, coffee and baked goods are oh-so-good together, often enhanced by each other.  And, opening a bakery is largely about ritual.  We want to know your name and we want you to know ours.  We want to see you each day because it’s the relationships that will make owning a bakery rewarding.

After much research, meeting with coffee folks, and tasting and tasting and tasting, we’ve finally decided on our coffee roaster.  It was a hard choice, no doubt.  The west coast knows a thing or two about coffee and there were quite a few fantastic roasters to choose from, none of which you’d be disappointed with.  But, we had to choose one.  And the winner is….

What made us choose Stumptown?  Well, we love their coffee for one.  Flour + Co will feature both their drip coffee and espresso.  We also love their commitment to direct trade practices.  In fact, they pioneered such practices and there’s a story behind each coffee that they offer.  Last, but not least, the proof is in the pudding, eh, people.  Yep, relationships are very important to us (and in business decisions, in general) and our gut says that these are our peeps.  Always trust your gut.

[Originally published by Emily Day on the Flour + Co blog]

Journey to Opening a Bakery Part 6: A Peek into the Baked Goods Case!

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As you might imagine, menu planning is my favorite part of opening Flour + Co.  If it wasn’t my favorite part, I’d say that I should rethink this opening a bakery thing.  However, if I didn’t also enjoy all of the other aspects of opening and running a bakery, including the very long hours that are about to take over my life, I’d also say that I should reconsider.

You see, this is where many potential restaurant owners get themselves into trouble.  Romanticizing restaurant ownership is easy to do when you start daydreaming about all of the delicious things you would serve or the favorite wines that you’d pour, plus the smiles on peoples faces when they have just eaten your creations.  This is truly the fun stuff!  But, there is so much more, and sadly some of it lands far from the fun tree.

Today, I’m only talking fun because I’m at the point where I need to finalize my menu.  Years ago I started compiling a list of all of my favorite baked goods and months ago I narrowed this list down to those that fit into my modern American theme.  It’s harder than it may sound because there was a lot that I had to consider as I was doing this.  My stomach couldn’t do all of the talking.

A glimpse into some of the products at Flour + Co – ready for an official tasting

What’s my mission and vision of the whole concept and do these baked goods fit into this?  How do I differentiate myself from all of the other good bakeries out there?  What kind of space do I have?  Do I have the space and enough time in the day to produce everything on my list? Can I use ingredients in multiple recipes or would I have to bring in a special ingredient just for one recipe?  Where am I going to store all of the ingredients that I need to accomplish my production list? Will I be able to make reasonable margins without charging untouchable prices?  And the list goes on…

Next, I took my draft list of products and started recipe testing.  Often I start with the basic baking ratio for a product (check out this book if you want to read more on baking ratios!). For example, a biscuit is made with 3 parts flour, 2 parts liquid, and 1 part fat.  I, then, play around with this basic ratio by adding additional ingredients, changing the types of flour, fat or liquid that I use, and adjusting the ratios in little ways.  The technique used to make the product is also something to consider.  Finally, I test it, taste it (along with my husband or whoever will give me honest feedback), make notes, adjust it, and test it again (repeat as needed) to come up with the final recipe.  It has to be just right!  Then, on to the next product.

The main ingredients: flour, butter, liquid (such as buttermilk)
Trying heavy cream for the liquid in this batch
Combining the butter with flour mixture in food processor
Ready to pull together and roll out
In the oven they go
The biscuits are slowly rising in the oven
Just out of the oven, cooling
The final buttermilk biscuit recipe and a few variations – ready to be tasted for feedback.

Here I am with a potential list of baked goods for my opening lineup.  It’s pare down time because I know this won’t all fit and it’s just my day one list (need to keep a few tricks up my sleeve), and I have space planning to do and lots of it!  I need to think about menu board spacing, case/display spacing, kitchen prep space, oven capacity….

You see, I have a tendency to over commit when it comes to the laundry list of baked goods that I want to offer.  If I don’t filter enough, my husband often has to bring me back to realty.  I may get frustrated and annoyed when he questions my list.  I mean, of course I can do it all.  But, I quietly take a look at what I’ve laid in front of him (in private) and mark a few things off of my list.  The next day I do the same (this process may repeat itself a number of times) until I finally have a reasonable final lineup.  Yep, very scientific, but it works for me.  We make a mighty good team.

News flash: I’m only through the baked goods and I have all of my menu planning to do, so I’m on to coffee, breakfast and lunch.  The baked goods obviously take center stage, but these other categories deserve attention too.  Same questions, space issues, and so on.  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The big reveal will be in March (crossing my fingers and you should cross yours too!), so stay tuned for the final final.

To read more on opening my bakery in San Francisco, follow the Flour + Co blog!

Journey to Opening a Bakery Part 5: Biscuits & Pies Require Lots o’ Capital!

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Some people choose a career in fundraising or devote their free time to raising money for a cause. Hats off to these folks. It’s a hard job and one from which I’ve always run.

Well, I can’t run any longer. It’s my new part time job, along with opening the bakery. Turns out that when following your dream requires funds, you have to make a choice. Do what it takes to raise the appropriate capital or proceed to career plan B. I choose plan A, opening Flour + Co!

Opening a small restaurant or bakery can run anywhere from $200,000 to $800,000 depending on the needs/size of the space, your vision, the extent to which you go all out. Was the space a restaurant before? Is the space up to code? Are there structural issues that need to be fixed? Do you only have a certain dollar amount to work with, no matter what?

Answering some of these questions and many, many more, I landed on my total capital requirement for the project, in the bottom half of the cost spectrum above. Keep in mind, this includes absolutely everything from insurance premiums, city and state fees, office supplies, and graphic design to architectural fees, tables and chairs, construction and oh-so-much-more.

With budget in hand, it’s go time. Raising capital (or reducing capital needs) can come from many sources:

  • Personal savings – you have to have some of your own money or no one will invest or loan you money. They want to see that you have something to lose too.
  • Friends and family – the best way, in my opinion, to raise capital from people who believe in you and love being a part of the project in a significant way. It’s a fun partnership for everyone involved.
  • Other investors (angel investors, etc) – this type of investment is harder to come by in the restaurant industry due to the nature of a restaurant investment (not high growth, different payback format).
  • Bank loan (SBA)– banks are loaning more to small businesses again, but it’s very competitive with lots of rules, such as having a solid business plan and other documentation. Qualifying can be difficult depending on your personal assets.
  • Micro loans (SBA, less than $50,000) – these small business loans are more accessible than larger SBA loans, but you have to have your ducks in a row as well. They typically won’t loan until you’ve raised all other capital, so they help to close the last funding gap.
  • Crowdsourcing (kickstarter.com) – great online community where you can ask the general public to be an investor in your business. These are donations really. You give these “community investors” something in exchange for their donation, such as an apron (small donation) or a baked good everyday for a year (large donation).
  • Other financing (equipment leases, etc) – instead of huge outlay in the beginning, you have more manageable monthly payments to pay back.
  • Lease negotiations – perhaps the landlord will pay for some of the upgrades or enhancements that add real value to their property.
  • Pro bono services (legal, accounting, etc – provided by family and friends) – network and see who you know that can help you out with some of the start-up related services. Don’t forget to take care of them in one way or another!
  • Small business or industry related contests – it’s amazing how many opportunities are out there if you dig.

Though it’s not my favorite job, it is rewarding as I secure dollar after dollar towards my good cause. I’m still looking for investors and in fundraising mode, in general, but I’ve had many friends and family already jump on board to support me and my business financially. I’m half way there with just personal, friends, and family investments! Yippee!!! Stay tuned as there is lots more happening from the grab basket above in order to make ends meet in the end.

But, I have big news!! I’ve been accepted into the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest which is worth a potential $25,000!! It requires your support and daily voting to win. It’s really a popularity contest, so help me join the in-crowd! You can vote once a day on the FedEx facebook site. Please set your calendar reminders and spread the word to all of your friends and coworkers. It’s a great way for me to start to close my gap and I’d be humbly honored to be the most popular small business! Thank you!!!

[Originally posted on flourandco.wordpress.com by Emily Day. Please follow the Flour + Co blog for more on opening my bakery in San Francisco]

Fall is for apple picking – A trip to Apple Hill from San Francisco

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Being from Minnesota, an autumn trip for apple picking is essential.  Nope – I can’t let a tradition like this go.  Maybe it’s the apple donuts…or the hay rides…or the eating as many apples as you can while picking…or the opportunity to be outside.  No matter what the motivation, it’s worth a trip, albeit a little tougher to pull off in the Bay Area.

The answer: Apple Hill.  Just over two hours away, you’ll find dozens of apple farms in a small geographic area, all specializing in different things (with lots of overlaps).  Some are a tad commercialized for my taste, but, even with that, there’s no escaping that it’s fall and you are doing just what you should be doing.  Picking apples.  These apples can then be turned into so many marvelous things at home.  My favorite?  Apple crisp!

Here’s a picture tour of our day!

The first step in making cider – pick the apples

Step 2: wash the apples and hop onto conveyor belt to press

The squeeze – pressing the apples for the juice

The apple gunk left from the press – must make some good fertilizer!

Apples being cored and sliced for apple pies

They can make some mean apple pies in no time here!

Caramel apples and apple donuts prepared before your eyes

Most orchards stay open through November and pump out all of the good stuff, plus apples and pumpkins, until Thanksgiving.  Hint: go Thanksgiving weekend and you can pick your Christmas tree too.  Now that’s efficiency at its best!

Best cider donuts: Abel’s (not particularly quaint otherwise)

Best cider: High Hill Ranch

Best one stop shop: High Hill Ranch

Best for a picnic: Rainbow

Most helpful staff on apple and pumpkin info:  Rainbow

Note: We only stopped at 5 orchards on our journey, so my ratings are all relative.

Journey to Opening a Bakery Part 4: How to Save $100,000 on Bakery Equipment

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I heard someone say ‘bonkers’ the other day in an interview and it made me smile.  It’s a great word and I’d forgotten all about it.   I’ve had it in my back pocket just waiting for an opportunity to use it.  Well, here it is.

Outfitting a bakery with equipment is nothing but bonkers.  Using this word brings the littlest bit of light to this paramount task.  Here’s a partial list of the over $100,000 of equipment that I need to open Flour + Co:

  • ovens
  • proofer
  • walk in
  • freezers
  • refrigerators
  • mixers
  • sheeter
  • espresso machine
  • POS system

Let’s just say that I can think of lots of things that I could spend $100,000 on, and equipment isn’t one of them.

Joking!  If I had $100,000 to throw around, I wouldn’t spend it on an island vacay.  I wouldn’t spend it on equipment either.  I’d save it for a rainy day at the bakery when sales aren’t as good as hoped or the business needs an injection of cash.  But, I’ve got nothing extra, so the question really is to lease or to rent.

Well, let’s break it down a little more.  How’s your credit score, by the way?  Can you provide a few years positive financial history from your business?  Oh, this is a new business and you don’t have any history??  What kind of personal assets do you have that a bank can latch its claws into if you default?  Yep, those are some of the questions that you have to answer when your looking to get an equipment lease.

The bonus with leasing equipment is that it’s actually leasing to own, with a price tag of $1 per piece of equipment at the term end.  Now that’s a deal if I’ve ever heard one.  Ahem…never mind the 36 months of price plus interest that you’ve been paying.  You also get new equipment that have one to two year warranties, so you don’t have to pay for maintenance for a few years.

Leasing is a great option for large specialty equipment where the warranty might be really important and you want skilled technicians on your side in case of a problem.  It’s also a great option for equipment that isn’t available to rent.  For instance, do you have your heart set on this?

La Marzocco

Well, you will need to lease this, my friends.  Rental companies don’t have beauts like this in their inventory.  They also don’t have things like POS systems which are pretty important.  So, cross your fingers that you can qualify for some lease $$.

And, then there’s renting equipment.  Does it bring you back to the days of Rent-A-Center?  Put that memory behind you because renting restaurant equipment is quite common and a smart thing to do, especially when you are starting out and don’t have the budget for anything else.  Sure, you’re not paying towards anything, but you can change the equipment out if you grow out of something.  Maintenance fees are included in the rental.  Also, monthly rental fees are lower than leasing payments.  The equipment may be used, but it’s going to be refurbished.  It’s a great way to practice recycling.

So, what’s it going to be for Flour + Co?  It ends up a relatively easy decision when you understand everything we’ve gone over.  It’s based on a pretty simple calculation.  I’m saving my money for the really small stuff, like a tabletop mixer, pans, bowls, etc.   I also have a little money set aside for the small down payments required for leasing or renting.  Other than that, I’m leasing my few key pieces of equipment and renting the rest.  It gets the bakery going with relatively little capital and it gives me a piece of mind.  There’s one check off my list.  Now, on to the endless other empty boxes that are yearning for a check mark.

Resources to research if you are up against the same question:  TriQuest Capital, Light Soda (bay area)

[Originally posted on the Flour + Co blog by Emily Day – Follow the blog for more on opening our bakery]

Journey to Opening a Bakery Part 3: The Friends in My Neighborhood

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[Originally published on the Flour + Co blog by Emily Day.  Sign up to follow the Flour + Co blog for more on the journey to opening a bakery in San Francisco here.]

Watching a little prime time TV last week reminded me of one of my favorite shows growing up:  Mr. Rogers.  With his cardigan sweater, comfy tennies, and well-groomed hair, Mr. Rogers welcomed me into his home and neighborhood each week.  I felt like one of the gang, and especially loved it when we all went on a field trip to a neighboring business (me vicariously from the comfort of my living room).  It was always fun to get an inside peek at the business, such as a factory tour, but Mr. Rogers always made it as much about the people as anything else. play this video for a walk down memory lane (note his sweet TV camouflage).

Mr. Rogers made it very clear, in each episode, that each person in the neighborhood contributed to the greater good, whether they delivered the mail, worked at a factory, or lived next door.  It didn’t really matter.  They all deserved respect and a kind hello, and the neighborhood just wouldn’t exist if they all didn’t play their important role.

You’re probably wondering how this is part of my journey to opening a bakery.   Good question.  You may say procrastination, but I say Mr. Rogers had some pretty impactful messaging going on, lessons that don’t discriminate based on age (or at least shouldn’t), and lessons that most definitely can be applied to business.

So, as I’m opening my bakery, I’m seeing first hand that there are lots of people that are contributing to making it what it is (or will be when the doors open).  I wouldn’t have a bakery at all if it weren’t for the peeps in my virtual neighborhood, and it certainly wouldn’t be as special if I did.  So, here’s a short list of the ‘friends in my neighborhood’ to get things started.   [Please note that my memory is not one of my best traits, so I went with a short list knowing that my long list would be incomplete, and my journey has only just begun.]

My Family and Friends – this goes without saying, but I want say it.  The support that I’ve gotten, near and far, is warm and fuzzy.  From a kind message, following Flour + Co on facebook, offering their time for painting or sharing a favorite family recipe, to taste testing and providing pro bono services, I feel like it’s a group effort and it makes it that much more fun.  My husband deserves a special nod too.  He’s my biggest fan and steadfastly by my side.  What can I say, but I’m one lucky lady.

My Investors – yes, they are family and friends too, and a it’s a very special way for me to share this experience.  I’m so grateful and humbled by their financial support, without which I couldn’t take this journey.

My Real Estate Gurus – Pam Mendelsohn and Sarah Brett at Colliers have their pulse on the SF commercial real estate market and are a great duo to work with.  We started working together at the beginning of the year, and they were advocating for me until we found The spot.  Yippee!  I definitely wouldn’t be here without them.

My Brand Experts – Jacquie, Will, Desiree and the team at Rubber Design Co are dynamite.  Just take a look at my logo!  I love it and it couldn’t more perfectly align with the vision that I communicated from the onset.  And, the logo is just the beginning.  They’ll be working with me along the way to develop packaging and other brand collateral that harmoniously work together.  Stay tuned!

My Architect Designers – meeting Keith and Marites, at Abueg Morris Architects, for the first time was like meeting old friends.  A good sign, in my book, for starting a business relationship.  Just like with the brand development, Keith and Marites are in the process of transforming my vision into technical drawings (Keith) and creative design plans (Marites).  They’ve just started and I’m so excited to watch it all come alive (and you will too)!

My Contractor – Greg and his team at ACI are old friends and it’s so fun to be able to work on a project together again.  Greg is not only a wealth of knowledge when it comes to restaurant construction, he also has a wealth of trusted professionals up his sleeve for referrals.  It’s great teaming up with someone who you know will bring everything together into a beautiful, finished product.  No doubt, my bakery is in the right hands.

As our journey continues, I’ll dive deeper into the people/projects that I only highlighted above.  These people, after all, are helping to make my neighborhood (and bakery) a better place.

A Sunday Afternoon in Napa

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Spending any day in Napa is one of my favorite things to do, but a Sunday sipping wine up north, when the city is jam packed with tourists due to an overwhelming number of city events, is better than alright in my book.

I should say that I’m not a bahumbug, honest.  I loved seeing the Blue Angels from our roof on Saturday (that was awesome, in fact!) and I appreciate that our city is filled with people whether it be for vacation or a special event.  However, sometimes when you live smack in the middle of it all, it’s nice to escape.

With Ryan’s mom in town for the weekend, we had the perfect excuse for just that. An escape to Napa.  We started at the Vintner’s Collective.  It’s always a favorite stop because they specialize in small production wines that are hard to find elsewhere.  They are always some of the best sips of the day!

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Our first sips of wine at Napa’s Vintner’s Collective, always one of our favorite stops.

With a little wine in us, we stopped off at Oxbow Public Market for lunch before heading further north.  Oxbow is a food court of the most luxurious kind with vendors that are local and feature fresh, often organic and simply delicious food.  When you want a laid back, flexible breakfast, lunch or dinner, this is a great place to come.

A view in Oxbow Public Market, the cheese shop

Hog Island at Oxbow Public Market

The spice market at Oxbow

Antique browsing over lunch at Oxbow. I love the heritage pig sign!

Vines ready to be harvested on our way to Frog’s Leap

After lunch, we headed to Frog’s Leap which boasts a beautiful estate complete with vegetable garden, fruit trees, chicken coops, bee hives, lawn games (bean bag toss) and a lovely farm house.  The format is a nice departure from the typical tasting room, especially with a guest in tow.  You can have a more casual tasting at their outside bar or have a tasting on the porch with cheese.  We opted for the porch tasting and it was a perfect way to finish off our afternoon.

The tasting porch at Frog’s Leap

Our wine tastes

The grounds at Frog’s Leap – fruit trees

Grapes – not the wine variety

Pretty Frog’s Leap Barn

Another barn used for storing/aging wines

Wine, not quite ready for drinking

At the end of the day, we we headed back to the city, ready for major traffic pains.  Turns out, we breezed right in (not sure how that happened!), just in time for a glass of wine with dinner at home.

Journey to Opening a Bakery, part 2: Oakland & Berkeley Bakery Hop

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[Originally posted on the Flour + Co blog]

My baked goods acumen is finely tuned, but only after years and thousands of calories devoted to sampling these tasty morsels.  Thank goodness R&D is a never ending duty in this business.  What can I say, I just can’t walk by or hear about a bakery opening and not stop in.  I love feeling the buzz, gazing at the eye-popping displays, breathing in the sweet scents, and, of course, trying a handful of their specialties and my standards.

My strategy?  Plan a walking tour, if possible, with bakery stops along the way (must offset the calorie footprint).  Buy the goods – whichever speak to you.  Plus, have two or three things (your standards) that you always get so that you have a baseline for comparison purposes. Try a bite or two of each, share if possible, and discard the rest.  I know, sometimes easier said than done, but moderation is key to regularly taste testing on the bakery circuit (sounds official, doesn’t it?).   Sure, I end up critiquing the treats, but it’s really all in the name of learning…how could this be better…good idea, but I’d maybe try it like this…yum, how do they do this?!…  Most of all, I love it when I discover a superb example of one of my faves.

So, you know you have a supportive and thoughtful sister when she plans a surprise half day tour to 10 bakeries in Oakland and Berkeley (I live in San Francisco, so am behind on the east bay bakery happenings).  Not to mention, she puts aside her gluten sensitivity for the day and indulges along side me, plus she refuses to let me pay for any of the many, many samples.  Yep, that’s my big sis I’m talking about.  We had a pretty awesome Saturday!  Check out our hop stops below.

ps. I love my job.

“After” all of the tasting…and still standing!

Donut Savant – feels like an old school donut shop, but has a fresh look and an updated lineup.  We love the small donut hole size available for each flavor.  Our personal favorite was the chocolate frosted raised donut.  It’s rich and super chocolatey.

Sweet Adeline – this place has it all and was my favorite of the day.  It’s super cute, there is a hum that makes you not want to leave, and they have a really great assortment of baked goods.  I’d go back anytime – maybe for that crisp I was eying.

just part of their baked goods offering

Cinnaholic – you would never guess this place makes all vegan cinnamon rolls, plus many varieties to choose from.  They are warmed and iced to order.  I’d typically be wary of a vegan baked good, but the original roll we tried was tasty.

Mariposa Baking Co – all gluten free.  This is where they do all of the baking so you feel like you are a part of it when you walk in.  We were itching for something savory at this point and so got a toasted bagel with cream cheese, amongst other things.  The bagel hit the spot and the other sweets were quite delicious too.  There’s nothing wrong with eating gluten free if you have access to this stuff.

A small peek into their offerings

Elmwood Cafe – one of the busier stops, this cafe has a good amount of seating and a good looking brunch menu.  I’d for sure go back for some breakfast.  I would call it a cafe first, but they have quite a selection in their pastry case too.  Their chocolate chip cookie with fleur de sel was delish.

Summer Kitchen – I’m not sure how they do it, but it does feel like summer (on the east coast) when you walk in.  The space is airy and comfortable.  While their selection of baked goods is small, their sandwiches, salads and prepared foods are something to check out.

Nabolom Coop – this place was hopping with live music on Saturday morning.  On the crunchy side, this shop felt like a true Berkeley establishment.  They have a big baked goods selection and nice outdoor seating.

Cream – kind of an amazing idea for a college town.  How could this not be good.  You pick your own cookie (out of 12 or so choices), you pick your own ice cream (out of 12 or so choices), then they assemble it in front of you.  And it’s two dollars.  And the cookies are warm.  And I hear that the line often goes around the block.  We were lucky!

Gaumenkitzel – more of a German restaurant than a bakery, but they do have great big refrigerated case with some German prepared foods and treats.  We stuck with the traditional pretzel and weren’t disappointed.  Must go back for dinner.

Sketch Ice Cream – this place has only been opened for about three weeks and is more than just ice cream.  In fact, I’d call it a coffee shop before an ice cream shop (at first glance).  They have perfectly petite baked treats (the best cookie we had all day), Sightglass coffee, and they make their own soft serve.  There’s nothing wrong with that combo!

the cute menu boards

A New Life Chapter, the Juicy Details

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Chapter 5 is juicy, I promise.  However, four very long chapters have set the stage for this juiciness.  To get you up to speed in a hurry, here’s a cliff note synopsis.

Chapter 1: childhood – wonderful family, friends, and memories in Kansas City, MO, and Minneapolis, MN

me and my older sis

Chapter 2: college – pretty amazing on all fronts; academic, social, and life lessons.  Gosh, I wish there was mid-life college too.  Those were the days!

my college dorm, University of New Hampshire

Chapter 3: career – my workaholic lifestyle took me on a nationwide tour full of hands-on experiences, fantastic people, and lots more life lessons

The places that I’ve lived and worked

Chapter 4: personal life gets a breakout role – a pretty sweet chapter, beginning 2.5 years ago! Met my husband, moved in together (in my small one bedroom apt), bought a condo, quit my job, started my own consulting business, completed a major remodel project on our condo, got engaged, moved into our condo, got married.

Phew, we’ve been real busy!!

Me and Ryan making empanadas

Yippee…we’re married!!

And here we are, at Chapter 5 (see, that was quick!):

Bakeries, baking, eating baked goods, exercising to eat more baked goods.  This has been my life for the past 9 years or so.  Ok – I’ve had a slightly more well rounded life and I like to eat lots more than baked goods.  They just take priority at times.

My healthy obsession actually began far longer than 9 years ago, in chapter 1 when cooking and baking was always a big part of my family life.  We would make cookies after school, bake up a storm for special occasions, and our family always spent the most time in the kitchen.

But, it was 9 years ago (in NYC) that I created my 3-ring binder centered around opening my own bakery.  I had already attended culinary school for a half a second and had worked at some great restaurants in some great cities, but it was at this point that I realized my love for baking and baked goods could take center stage.  I had grand plans to open the bakery then and there, but it just wasn’t the right time.  So, instead, I started managing a bakery (a shift from the full service, high end restaurant world) and the opportunity opened on the west coast to oversee a group of bakeries.

My almost seven years in San Francisco have been filled to the brim to say the least; the first two thirds with a ton of work (and all of the good things that come with hard work) and the last third with the achievement of some long overdue personal goals.  One might say that I’ve checked an awful lot off of my bucket list.  I agree and I feel quite fortunate (and happy!).  However, there’s still one little thing that’s tugging at my coat tails.

Enter Flour + Co, my very own bakery, and the juicy part of this story.

a sneak peek – click for the website!

Can you believe it!?!  I can hardly believe it, and it’s happening to me.  No backsies here.  I’ve signed a lease in Lower Nob Hill, I have lots of wonderful family and friends supporting my efforts, money is already sneaking out of my pocket at an alarming rate, and I’ve got some pretty sweet plans in store for this little neighborhood bakeshop.  You may think I appear to be cool as a cucumber, but on the inside I can hardly contain myself.  Yahooo!!!

Me in front of the soon to be bakery!

As you may have guessed, chapter 5 is going to be jam packed, tiny print, a page turner, if you will.  It’s a work in progress and has only just begun.  But, I’m ready for it.

And…I can’t wait to share it with you!  Not just the finished product, but the path to bringing Flour + Co to life.  I promise a sweet journey full of checklists, research, baking, tasting, setbacks, milestones, laughter, tears (from me that is), a little abracadabra, get ‘er done action, you name it.

So, until later…

~ Emily

ps. you can follow the new Flour + Co blog for more on opening the bakery!