The Bakery is growing!
For the sixth year in a row, the cafe and bakery showed incredible sales growth last summer. Of course, the more food we produce, the more space we need! Even now – at the beginning of winter – we don’t have enough room for the needs of both the cafe kitchen and the bakery. Also, we’ve long considered how we can produce our bread and baked goods for other stores, but we don’t have the space or equipment right now to devote to that kind of production.
This fall, we decided to put together a business proposal that would outline what we need to do in order to take the bakery to the next level. Primarily we would need space and equipment, and we came up with a plan that calls for a $50,000 investment. As far as space goes, the obvious choice was already in the building – the two suites below the main floor at the back of the building – they would require renovation but not new construction.
While we were working on the proposal, a miracle took place; an anonymous donor offered a $50,000 donation in order to make the project a reality. The $75,000 in donations we received for the land purchase four years ago provided for the capital investments required to open the cafe fully (e.g., the wastewater system, a new floor in the cafe, a walk-in freezer, and a new bakery room), and we expect this donation to provide the infrastructure necessary for our next round of priorities; the first priority is to provide our staff with a living wage.
The tenants in the two downstairs suites will have moved out by the end of the year, and we are already planning the renovations and equipment purchases necessary. The current bakery room will become a shared space with the cafe kitchen; this arrangement allows the baking to take place upstairs (the wonderful smells will stay!) but also provides more space for kitchen prep. The bakery production will take place downstairs, so the baked goods will be prepared and frozen downstairs. Because we can increase production this way, we can keep up with the summer demand and produce for other stores – as soon as this summer!
The Bakery has become a cornerstone of the Co-op business. While the store and cafe can continue to improve and enhance their products and services, they are generally limited to what can be done inside the building. The Bakery, on the other hand, presents a unique opportunity to take the Co-op mission beyond the building and, perhaps, beyond Cortes Island. Thank you to our members for your continued support, and a special thank you to the anonymous donor who is investing in our collective future.
Carly Merserau, our Bakery Supervisor, hard at work. Photo by Darshan Alexander Photography