Guest Column: Retail bakery design

Albert G. Cinelli
August 28, 2014
Written by Albert G. Cinelli
Depending upon which side of the fence you sit when it comes to designing your bakery’s kitchen, you will either choose the right equipment for the space or the right space for the equipment.

Know your equipment size, know the utility requirements and make yourself a spreadsheet with a tally showing all details.

To determine this, you first need to define who you are as a business. Will you simply buy frozen or par baked and warm sell or will you make from scratch? Or, will you do a mix of both? Each answer will yield a different result and the sort of equipment and size will also differ. This also impacts decisions about things like POS systems, space for stock and type of building and geographic area.

Once you have determined the sort of bakery you are establishing, the next logical step is selecting the equipment. This is because the suitable location is most often dependent upon the equipment you need to execute your vision of that bakery.

Most people encounter problems when they select a location based upon a wish list that does not account for the cost to install equipment. For example, an oven installed in a downtown high-rise can cost three times as much to install and supply utilities as it would for that same oven in a single story retail unit. This can translate into thousands of dollars you may not have accounted for. Similarly, some will select a location based upon price alone, only to discover that there is not enough electricity to operate the equipment they need. Then they can face exorbitant, unforeseen costs installing utilities that can also cost many thousands of dollars. Those sorts of unexpected costs put your start-up in jeopardy, even before you sell your first brioche!

Know your equipment size, know the utility requirements and make yourself a spreadsheet with a tally showing all details. Then sum up the amperage you require and gas requirements, then start the search for your perfect location. This time spent will save you thousands of dollars and much heartache.

A most convenient way of approaching this does not entail that you leave the comfort of your own home. The Internet has proven to be an invaluable research tool in almost every way (arguably too many ways). Here you can choose to become part of forums with people of similar interest and gain from their knowledge, success and failures. You can research equipment that may suit your needs and visit the websites of businesses similar to yours, half a world apart, to glean information. This is a valuable tool, but it is impersonal and the information can be arbitrary. And, of course, the source must be a valid one. If you have ever researched a mysterious body ache on the Internet, you know exactly what I mean.

A more personal and tailored way of exploring your options for equipment is by working with long-standing, reputable local equipment dealers and/or manufacturers. This helps to focus your search while shortening your learning curve; tapping into expertise and knowledge gained from years of serving clients with a similar business model. A good vendor can and should be a vital part of your team by advising you about the pros and cons of your various choices. They can do site visits with you and offer objective opinions of a given space for the equipment you need. Advice should also include the size, the type of equipment, and energy source required to achieve the optimal end product. You may select a piece that is larger or costlier to install or a different configuration than you had in mind initially for the sake of benefitting your product quality. Some vendors also offer design services with your best interest in mind rather than a designer’s aesthetic perspective -- these are two very different worlds.

The important thing to remember is that all viable options should be presented and fully explained to enable you to make the best possible decision for the criteria you deem important.

Choosing the space around your equipment will enable you to better execute your product. Choosing the equipment to match the space often leaves you in a compromising position. For the most part, the important factors will always remain knowing what direction your business will take from a product point of view and then learning what equipment options are available to execute your vision. This will ultimately dictate the sort of space required.

With the proper guidance, many complications and wasteful expenses can be avoided. A little time invested in the early stages of exploration will definitely maximize your return on investment and minimize your stress.

Albert G. Cinelli is a Managing Director and Sales and Marketing Manager at G. Cinelli - Esperia Corporation in Woodbridge, Ont. He can be reached at (905) 856-1820 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
More in this category:  |  Concepts for success: May 2014 »

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