Fresh bread, baked in-house, can be an incredible draw for your restaurant. The odor of baking bread wafting through the dining area and out the door can encourage appetites and sales. On the other hand, there are costs and concerns that you must consider before you add fresh bread to your menu. The following guide can help you decide if the "fresh daily" option is for you.
How Much Kitchen Space Is Necessary?
You will need a dedicated baking area if you plan to create bread completely from scratch. Restaurants with bread as a meal-time focus, such as sandwich shops or places with dinner rolls on every table, need more space than those that only serve a limited menu of fresh breads. The minimum space requirements must provide room for a kneading and cutting table, a spot to rise and proof the dough, and room for the mixer, oven, and cooling racks.
What Equipment Will You Need?
Equipment is the major upfront cost associated with in-house baking. At the bare minimum, you will need an industrial mixer, a bread oven, and proofing and cooling shelves. You may need even more if you are making bread for a specialty purpose. For example, automatic dough rollers are necessary to create perfect and consistent crusts for pizzas or flatbread sandwiches. Equipment can often be found on the used market, which can help minimize these costs.
Should You Hire a Baker?
Whether or not you need a dedicated baker greatly depends on how bread figures into your menu. If you only have a couple of fresh offerings, you can train a current cook to make the breads needed. For a bread-heavy menu, a dedicated baker may be necessary to ensure that you don't run out of fresh bread. A skilled baker is a must if you want to focus on artisan and specialty breads, since the baker will bring their expertise and ability to create fresh new bread recipes for your restaurant.
Are There Alternatives?
Fortunately, there are alternatives that still allow you to provide fresh bread without the labor or equipment costs. You can contract with a bread delivery service to deliver ready-to-bake breads. You will still need a bread oven, but in some cases this is provided by the bread service for a small rental charge or as part of the service. The dough typically comes frozen. Your cooks only need to pull it out to proof overnight, and then bake it in the morning. Additional info about bread suppliers can be found here.