Wednesday, October 29, 2003


We've been looking at professional memberships in baking organizations.

Based on membership fees, baking must be a lucrative busniess. This gives us hope.

We've also been crawling around the internet, looking at start-up stories of other bakers, and beginning to open the lines of communication with them. Networking.

Something I find very interesting - none of the bakeries we found are in our state. So, maybe it's a good time to open one here, and use the internet to advertise? I know there are bakeries here, real ones, not franchises.

We won't be in the same neighborhood. And we won't do partially baked, either. That just gives me the shudders.

When I go into a bakery, I expect the bread to be made from scratch on the premises. If I want partially baked goods, I'll buy frozen dough out of the freezer section at the grocery store and make my own.

I don't expect our customers to do so, either.

Scratch breads, artisan breads, our Daily Bread, our Ethnic Breads, our Custom Breads, our nifty soups, our pies and pastries and cookies - that Sweet Tooth Buffet - and the live bands and entertainers who will come in and draw in customers.

Biker bars are VERY useful places to visit on Tuesday nights. The barkeep is sweet,and the bar is relatively quiet. I asked about their policy on live local bands and small groups. He said they usually paid a percentage of the bar's take that night, plus free drinks. We can afford that fee for our entertainment. A percentage of sales during their performance times, and free coffee, tea, soup, and baked goods sounds like a deal to me for a group that's just starting.

We won't hire popular groups until we can meet their fees.

And NO pyrotechnics. Got enough heat in the bakery, don't need wild fires.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


I talked with my favorite donut shop baker today and got some great tips on buying ovens and proof boxes. He'll put in a good word when we're ready with them so we can get (hopefully) a slightly better deal.

He also gave us the name of a realtor who might be helpful in locating the best place at the best arrangement.

I love my donut man. He makes the absolute best donuts I have ever tasted. If anyone ever comes into our bakery for donuts, he's the man.

Let me tell you about his donuts. He lets them rise long enough that they are light, fluffy, melt in your mouth. The hot oil is hot enough to prevent a thick crust from forming, so even the crust is tender. The flavor of the dough ripens fully with his long, slow ferment. Places like Dunkin Donuts? They are in too much of a hurry, their dough never rises enough to be so flavorful and tender. And the glaze... My donut man glazes his donuts using sugar that has steeped in vanilla bean and whole cardamom pods so the flavor is extremely subtle, then he uses just a drop of lemon juice to bring out the flavor, and the donuts are barely glazed at all. The combination of tender, well-risen donut and subtle glaze is marvelous, by far the best donuts I have ever tasted.

He named his shop well when he named it "Best Donuts".

I want people to rave over our baked goods the way I rave over his donuts.

The best thing is, now we're on the track of ovens. Can't bake bread without ovens. And some of the ovens I've found are for bakeries far larger than we expect to become.

Our goal is to be the neighborhood bakery, providing great baked goods for a core group of regulars and always drawing in other new customers with our events, some of whom will become new regulars. We'll have people from surrounding cities coming over for party baked goods, and specialty breads for special dinners. We'll have kids stopping in after school for milk and cookies. Workers will drop in after work to pick up bread and soup for dinner and pastries for tomorrow's breakfast. College kids and others will come by later for soup and pastries and coffee and live music. And the late night shift will stop in for a light dinner and tomorrow's bread. We'll be close enough to downtown, we may open for lunch for the bread and soup crowd.

We may not be a multi-national chain bakery, but we will be a local favorite, and we'll be successful.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Productive Weekend 

That was an interesting weekend.

We're trying to finalize our starting menu and how many people we will need to hire because that impacts strongly on what we'll need for start-up.

And we discussed insurance needs and smoking policies.

Smoking regulations are insane - they attempt to protect the very few, very vocal people who don't want anyone to smoke. Ever. For any reason. Control freaks.

Mind you, neither Manager nor I smoke (that's a very expensive addiction, one we're glad we don't have). And I personally detest how filthy smokers tend to be, dropping their ashes and cigarette butts where-ever they want to and rarely inside the ashtrays provided for them. It's easy to train smoker-friends to clean up after themselves. It shouldn't be any more difficult to train cistomers to be responsible tidy people - at least in our establishment.

However, because cigarette smoke will definitely detract from the wonderful fragrances of our breads and cookies, we agree that smoking where the food is prepared and on display is a Very Bad Idea. This doesn't mean that smokers have no rights. We want to provide a smoking area. By law, though, we can't. All food establishments must be smoke-free within it, and within 100 feet of the entrances. This means we can't even provide a smoking porch for our smoking customers.

That's wrong.

People who smoke have as much right to enjoy our bakery as people who don't.

This is a dilemma we will have to resolve at some point, and may mean getting involved in legislation.

Smoking itself is not illegal. It may be a Bad Idea, but so are a lot of things, like trying to use fireplace tongs as arc welders, but it's not illegal. To me, this means it can be carried out pretty much anywhere if courtesy is observed - the "Do you mind if I smoke?" and accepting "Yes" gracefully. And there are areas where smoking is not suitable - around babies and small, running children (I've seen children burned who ran into a lit cigarette held low by the smoker. Had the smoker simply kept the cigarette near her face, no one would have been hurt.), in food preparation areas, in hospitals, and anywhere where sparks or flame would be hazardous. Those make sense. But to ban smokers everywhere, from bars (where you expect people to smoke) to public parks is insane. Smokers are no longer allowed to smoke indoors, and now those radical non-smokers are trying to get smokers banned from smoking outside. That's just wrong. Non-smokers do not have more rights than smokers.

If there is an allergy (a real one, not some faked up one) then it is the responsibility of the person with the allergy to either take medication to reduce the allergy or to avoid those things which set off the allergy. It is not the responsibility of the rest of hte world to make the world as hypo-allergenic as possible. That is too much of a burden to put on everybody else.

And what it does for retailers - the added costs and expenses of banning smokers, the reduced profits, the ill-will engendered by rude non-smokers (and I've met more rude non-smokers than smokers), and the all of the other burdens non-smokers demand retailers bear is just unconscionable.

But - we have to deal with it, and come up with some way to make it work in our bakery. There's got to be some compromise.

I hope we find it.

Thursday, October 23, 2003


Have you ever baked a batch of cookies just to prove a point?

Have you ever engaged in a cookie bake-off to prove a point?

Have you ever wished you had more ovens in your house so you could end the matter once and for all about who's cookie recipe is better?

What cookie was under dispute so vehemently?


We were arguing over the type and quantity of cinnamon to use. I favor cinnamomum vera or cinnamomum zeylonica, Manager thinks cassia occidentalis is just fine. True, Cassia has a stronger cinnamon smell, but it lacks body and flavor. True cinnamon has a faint aroma, but the flavor builds wonderfully in the mouth and then floods your nose with its fragrance. You don't smell real cinnamon until you eat it.

I'm willing to go with a blend of true cinnamon and cassia so we get the best of both worlds. Manager insists true cinnamon is too pricey to use, and wants us to cut corners using only cassia.

So, we baked cookies to prove who was right on the aroma factor and smell.

The neighbors were drooling, because, of course, we can't eat all those cookies, and they got to help in the contest.

The winning blend was 65% cassia and 35% cinnamon.

I'm happy with that.

Manager thinks we should go with the 80% cassia and 20% cinnamon (she did cave and admit cinnamon was essential to the flavor)

I'm sticking with the 65/35 blend, even for cinnamon rolls. We didn't match off with cinnamon rolls because we'd still be at it, waiting for batches to rise. Cookies are fast.

Now that the cookie fight is over, for now and for this ingredient, I have to get back to the more boring things. Like looking up printers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


Last night, Manager and I discussed duty divisions.

Doesn't that sound absolutely thrilling?

While she's still in college, the bulk of the work in ferreting out information will come from me. I'll also be the one likely to contact suppliers and search for needed equipment. Anyone know where I can find a good used Hobart 20 gallon floor mixer with adaptors to scale it down to 60 and 40 quarts?

Of course, once we have the floor mixer, we'll need proofing cabinets, a walk-in refrigerator, a walk-in freezer (both where we can roll packed racks in and out as needed), a rolling machine would be nice, but we can make do with good counters for rolling out doughs and decent rolling pins. And ovens. We need at least 2 ovens - one for breads and longer baking things and one for the cookies.

That's just for starters. Then, we'll need vermin-proof storage containers for the flours, sugars, salts, spices, yeasts, herbs, dried fruits, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, and nuts. Containers for the wet ingredients (which will be stored most likely in the refrigerator - milk, eggs, cheeses, that sort of thing). Scoops for measuring out the ingredients. Scales for weighing them. Pans and sheets for baking them. Cookie cutters and molds. A stovetop for cooking icings and frostings and some of the add-in ingredients. A chocolate tempering machine for dipped cookies and pastries.

We have a lot of this on a home baker's scale, but we need to Baker-Size them. Things like the cookie cutters and molds, we have a sufficiency of.

Oh, who am I kidding? You can never have enough cookie cutters. I have several hundred, and I just saw three in a baker's catalog that I don't have. I must get them.

See? That's a problem. We both like neat, cool, nifty cooking toys.

We have to work very hard not to fritter our money on things that are nifty but not needed so we can get the essentials.

Manager's as bad as I am. Worse. One of the things she wants are hundreds of those cute little teapot/cup combinations for our teadrinking customers to use. She bought one the other day, chipped, for $2.00. She thinks that's a plus - all of them will acquire chips anyway, so she's just getting a head start on that.

And cauldrons. Anything that's a cauldron draws her attention. I have this huge cracked cauldron that will be our primary symbol for the bakery, but she wants cauldrons as the decor, too. Big ones. Little ones. China ones. Painting ones. Plastic ones. Kitschy cutsey ones. Broken ones. The tables will have little cauldrons holding flowers. Fabric printed with cauldrons as napkins and display fabrics. Paper napkins and take-out bags with cauldrons on them.

Oh dear! That means we have to buy napkins and take-out bags, too.

Gah! Printers! I really dislike dealing with printers. They usually get something wrong, and that delays things. No matter how precise and detailed you are, they always miss something. Even if you give it to them camera-ready and all they have to do is print, they'll "fiddle" with it and ruin it. And we'll need to deal with them for menus, napkins, to-go cups, bags, advertising, invitations to special events, coupons.

Now I have to think about interviewing printers, too. Thanks very much for bringing that up.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003


I visited with friends last night, and we discussed their new diet - Atkins, along with accompanying pre-bakery treats.

Manager tried the Atkins Diet and had to give it up because it is so heavily dependent upon soy to reduce carbohydrates. She's very allergic to soy. We modified the diet to be soy-free, and she's done well on it.

But that got me to thinking about our menu and people's eating habits.

A bakery is the last place someone on an Atkins Diet wants to go. They can just see all those little evil carbs sneaking into the bloodstream via inhalation. Even if they lost weight, they'd claim to have gained it in order to stigmatize the bakeries and thus justify their boycott.

So, we got together, Manager and I, and discussed how we could turn this popular diet to our bakery benefit.

From the reactions of our dieting friends, the lo-carb bread formula we devised (which, by the way, is lower in carbs than Atkins' bread and contains no soy - we had it tested in the university food labs), and the lo-carb soup to accompany it were a hit. The savings in carbs allowed them to have a small slice of lo-carb vanilla sour cream cake.

Along with other specialty breads - gluten-free, salt-free, sugar-free, peanut-free, soy-free - we'll gain (hopefully) a reputation as a place to get good bread for anyone.

I insist that all of our recipes, however we adapt them for various diets, must have flavor, aroma, and "bite". None of this pressed cardboard stuff. Eye appeal is easy to get, a little egg wash, a little caramel color, and voila, it's pretty. The other three are what brings people back, though. I want repeat, happy, customers who will drag their friends along. I want a bakery people want to revisit - often. Light and airy, with good entertainment, great foods for most any dietary needs, aromatically delicious beverages, and outstanding service.

Monday, October 20, 2003


I just took a venture capitol questionnaire. While there are a few weak spots (hey, I'm no math whiz!), with a solid business plan completed and a little help on projection gross, we're not in bad shape at all.

That makes me even more hopeful.

If we take our time making the business plan comprehensive, then when we're ready to ask for financial backing - loans, grants, venture capitol, maybe even an angel - we'll have enough to wow them and prove that this bakery is an excellent idea that will succeed where we plant it and with our offerings.

Our most unique draw will be the fact that we will be supporting homeless rights and providing services for homeless people, while offering an outstanding delicious product that people will drive out of their way for if they had to.

We have some rather nifty marketing ideas already built in, and finding more will be easy. We'll remain at the front of people's minds as we provide yummy baked goods and soups. They'll come back often not just for the goodies but for the ambience, the entertainment, the special events.

What seemed like a good idea 6 months ago is beginning to gell into a great, workable idea.


All that talk of food has made me cook-crazy, so when I found a farmstand by the roadside with really good, really cheap plums, I bought a bunch and made a batch of plum butter.

Americans aren't too big on plum butter and I have no idea why. It's delicious, thick, dark, mysteriously sweet. I flavor mine with tarragon and a hint of clove. It goes great between thin sandwich cookies, or spread on shortbread. It's wonderful on toast or with eggs and biscuits. Stirred into oatmeal, it makes it taste all lively. And you just haven't eaten cinnamon bread until you've spread a little plum butter on it.

Only special customers will get to sample my plum butter after we open the bakery because it will be several years before we expand into the jelly side of the business.

The next foray into the the country brought a windfall of nectarines and the sunniest looking nectarine butter flavored with chamomile and thyme. Biting into toast with nectarine butter is like biting into a slice of summer.

Manager and I discussed our basic menu and minimal hiring requirements for opening the bakery.

I still think the opening menu is a little too ambitious, but maybe she's right that we need to have such variety to attract the base of customers we'll need.

Fourteen types of daily bread is a bit much, but I see her point that four of them are special diet breads, and another six are "expected breads", leaving four as signature breads. Two of those four are sourdoughs.

The rolls are more manageable, only five of those in addition to hamburger and hotdog buns. We'll be setting up in an area where people eat a lot of hamburgers and hotdogs.

The Sweets section could be expanded, I feel, and perhaps variations will make it look fuller. After all, Danish comes in multiple fruits and cheese, right?

The rest seem rather balanced, the soups, the dipping sauces for the breads, and the beverages.

During our busiest times, we'd need 3-4 coffee monkeys, and at least 2 bakers, but most of the time, 1-2 coffee monkeys and 1 baker will be all that's needed. That makes me feel more confident that we'll be able to afford to open the bakery.

That sort of confidence, and the detailed planning we are doing should impress the banker.

Plus, we're toying with a Media Opening - inviting all the local media to the bakery the day before it officially opens and letting them nosh to their heart's content on all the goodies we'll offer (at least until we run out - and we'll do the frequent fresh cookie bakes to keep the bakery fragrant and let them know this is how the bakery will be run). It's not exactly free publicity, but this way it should certainly be positive publicity. And it will certainly be more effective than just sending out press releases.

I'm ready to bake another batch of my famous cinnamon pecan yeast cakes - ugly but soooo yummy. It's an old German family recipe, my grandmother used to bake this all the time, and hte village baker got the recipe from her.

I'll probably have to update my mass baking skills, I haven't worked in a bakery in almost 40 years...

And MAnager still has to finish her classes on management and running a bakery.

But it's getting closer, and looks more real.

Sunday, October 19, 2003


The copy of The Baker's Trade by Zachary Schat came in yesterday. We've been busy reading all about how he put together his bakery.

The book was written in the late 60's, so finances and prices are wa-a-a-ay off, but other than that, it doesn't look as if much has changed.

Actually, reading his book has renewed our hopes that our endeavors aren't as insane as we'd first thought.

And driving around town yesterday, we found 6 really great locations currently for rent or sale. One used to be a florist shop and has gorgeous windows on a high traffic low rent district (they are working hoard to accommodate new business because it's a "depressed area - but it's 5 minutes from the state capitol and downtown, it's 3 minutes from a wealthy private college [in cars, it's 5 minutes to walk but nobody walks here if they can avoid it - I've seen people go into a strip mall shop at one end and shop, then come out, get in their car and drive to the other end to shop there. Insane, expecially with gas prices so high, but there you go.]). The residential area near 4 of them is historical and they spend a lot on their lifestyle. Fresh baked goods are a part of that lifestyle, and we will have some of the best baked goods they've ever tasted. Ethnic restaurants, florists, and small pricey boutiques do well in the area, so a bakery would fit right in.

Of course, we're still a ways from actually committing to a place. We're finishing up with market research, traffic flow studies, and additional education in marketing and managing. We're slowly contacting people we think would help in the business.

By next fall, we'll be ready to start interviewing CPAs and looking for additional financing. My house alone won't be enough to open the bakery.

And reading the book has let us know that we can hire fewer people to start with and work our way up to our ideal. Banks will like that we have 5 and 10 year plans for growth.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Bakery Catalogs 


Not bakery equipment, catalogs filled with luscious cinnamon rolls, sweet, sticky baklava, cheesecakes, fruitcakes, pound cakes, petit fours, shortbreads, galettes, nut breads, bars, and other yummies too delicious to name or you'll need to replace your keyboard just like me.

After yesterday's shocker on expenses and what we'd need to earn to cover them, I'm glutinously looking at such fare, trying to decide what we must have, and what we'd like to have. Everything is so yummy, how can we decide?

I know we'll have bread. And cookies. And soup. But I want to have cute little German style porcupines, and charming little maeuschen, and Hoeckelheimer Baerentaschen, and petit fours and cinnamon rolls that will curl your toes in pleasure. Not to mention fancy little pastries of all sorts, bite-sized fruit tarts dipped in chocolate, pastry encased truffles, fruit calzones, tiny little Fairy Cakes, individual cheesecakes, Elven Nibblers, Wizard Wands, and more. And offer bread dips - hot cheesy dips, chilled marinara dips, Italian olive oil dips, spicy pesto dips, sweet fruity dips. And fresh made fruit jams and jellies and butters.

I stumbled onto some gorgeous extra fragrant red plums yesterday and spent the evening making some of the most flavorful plum butter ever: thick, rich, fragrant, enhanced with just a touch of cinnamon and star anise and tarragon. I tell you, this batch of plum butter will become legendary. I don't expect all those jars to last out the weekend.

I want to let our future customers at the Cracked Cauldron enjoy such taste delights on fresh bread.

But, given how expensive it looks like start-up will be, that is something we will just have to look forward to expanding into as time and finances allow.

Just like the meads and fruit wines will have to wait, but we already knew about that. A liquor license is just too far out of our reach for at least the next 5-8 years.

So. Bread. Soup. Cookies. Beverages.

That's still a large set of offerings. Bread alone is almost limitless: white, low-carb wheat, wheat, rye, pumpernickel, sourdough white, sourdough tomato, sourdough rye, gluten-free, salt-free, buns and rolls of all sorts just to start with.

Cookies: chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, chocolate macadamia, oatmeal, peanut butter, nut corners, sandies, linzer torten, shortbreads, jumbles, thumbprints, merry makers, lebkucken, pffernuesse, gingerbread, sugar, sugar-free, salt-free, gluten free, bars...

And soups. I know the common ones are Atkins style hi-pro beef, rich and hearty beef, and chicken noodle, but then there are chowders, bisques, bouilliabaise, chilled soups, southwestern chicken, chili, pea soup, navy bean soup, many bean soup, onion soups, creamy onion soup, cream soups of all sorts, carrot soup, Forest Stew, and so many more.

Beverages: coffee plain and flavored, hot and cold milk, juices, herbal teas, fruit spritzers, sodas,

Once we are past the opening phase and starting to relax a bit, we can introduce more menu items.

But, darn, there's so much delicious stuff. Scones. Muffins. Cakes. Pastries. Hand pies. Whole pies.

Now, run along and get some munchies. I know I will.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Employee Planning 

Along with rent, utilities, and supplies, we have to figure in employees. Without people to help bake the goods and simmer the soups and take the customers' money in exchange for the yummies, we would quickly go out of business.

We want to be open so people going home from work can pop in and get fresh out of the oven bread for dinner, and stay open late for the people who get off work on the swing shift (hoot shift people have lots of choices on their way home, ALL of the local bakeries open at 6:00 AM and are done with their bread baking by noon). No bakery in town is still making bread at 4:00 PM, and the people who swing by to buy bread after work are only going to be able to buy what's left over. The best, most popular breads are gone by then.

Not at Cracked Cauldron! Nope, we plan to open our doors at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and stay open until the late shift has had a chance to come for bread and soup - probably around 4:00 AM.

That means we will need people baking bread and preparing soup as early as noon. That means 2 8 hour shifts a day. We'll need at least 2 Soup Monkeys, 2 Bread Monkeys, 2 Coffee Monkeys , 6 Flour Monkeys, every day. Including office staff (Manager - who can also do secretary and HR, Bookkeeper. Purchasing), we'll need to hire 15 full time people, and 12 part-time people, just to start with.

That's a mind-boggling $830,592.00 a year in wages. If that's supposed to be 1/4 of our gross income, then we'll have to make $3,322,368.00 a year to be profitable.

I am suitably stunned. As "Moneybags", I only make $16,000.00 a year, and my house will only offer loan collateral up to $200,000.00.

To fit inside our budget, we will have to have fewer employees, be open fewer hours, and maybe offer fewer items upon opening.

Don't worry, we'll still have frequent fresh cookies - cookie dough can be made in large batches and baked in 15 minutes for oven fresh delights.

All right, so, we adjust.

Soup and Flour Monkeys can be combined. Bread and Coffee Monkeys can be combined. All Monkeys do clean up. We'll combine Manager with Purchasing,and hire an outside CPA firm to do bookkeeping, wages, taxes. That brings our total employee expenses down to $299,520.00, for total annual expense of $1,198,080.00. Well, that shaved off the need to earn two million a year.


I hope my math is as bad as I think it is.

We can work up to the top goal.

I wonder how long it will take us to get there?

Touring Bakeries 

Manager came unexpectedly into $500.00, so we are going to spend that taking a few tours of bakeries in other cities.

See, the local bakeries would view us, rightly so, as competition. But, if we asked to tour bakeries that were in other states, other cities, then, we aren't competition, we're colleagues. Their customers may never even go to the state and city we are in, so there would be little overlap.

So, we have plans to drive to Texas to visit half a dozen bakeries in the D/FW area, then later to New Orleans to see how the Cajuns bake. Next fall, since we are going to Boston anyway, we'll just tour a few bakeries there. And then we'll check out a few Chicago bakeries, too. There's a Baker's Convention in California we just may go to, too.

Yes, as Moneybags, I'm aware that exceeds our $500.00 windfall. But, see, the Boston trip is being financed by other means. Texas, Louisiana and Illinois will be paid for out of the $500.00, and by then, our bakery will open, and the California Convention will be sponsored by the bakery itself.

Sounds like a plan, doesn't it?

Manager thinks we ought to also publish a cookbook, but I feel that ought to wait a few years, until we know which breads and baked goods are the favorites of our customers.

The results of the Soup Survey are in! We now know that our potential customers want a gravy rich beef stew, a homemade chicken soup, and a brothy low calorie Atkins style beef stew practically everyday, as well as a nice vegan soup. And they also want to experiment with soups: tortilla soup, southwest chicken, chowders, chilis (wait until they wrap their mouths around my Buffalo Breath Chili!), chilled summer soups, ethnic soups, and such. I think offering 6 varieties of soup daily (the standard three, plus the vegan and 2 more) would be a good one. We can expand the soup selection if it proves as popular as we think it will.

We're still waiting on the Bread Survey results, but just cruising the local bakeries shows us that white bread, whole wheat bread, salt-free, gluten-free, and low protein breads are popular, along with pumpernickel, seedless rye, sourdough white, sourdough tomato, and mini loaves of almost any variety. Two pound and three pound loaves as well as the small 4 ounce loaves have great appeal around here. So that means we will likely not be making too many one pound loaves. But we're going to wait until the survey is in before deciding for sure.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

The intrepid entreprenuers, a mother-daughter team, have decided to open a BAKERY.

What, are we nuts?

No, those go in the pastries, we're just plain bonkers.

The name of our future bakery is (drumrolls please - lots of them) (oh, don't stop now) (OK, that's enough guys.) (Guys?) (Hey guys?) (SHUT UP) (There, thanks, have a cookie.) The Cracked Cauldron

Not a snazzy name for a bakery?

Well, that's because it's not just a bakery. In addition to hourly fresh baked breads and buns and rolls and calzone and pastries from around the world and cookies (what other bakery offers fresh out of the oven cookies to be eaten in the store nice and hot?), we offer a array of delicious coffees, flavored and herbal teas, flavored hot milks, flavored cold milks, a full non-alcoholic drink bar, and a variety of daily soups, all along with a variety of entertainments - local bands, open mike nights, poetry readings, Pun-Days, and so forth, with a portion of the proceeds going to help the local homeless people. And so the name Cracked Cauldron.

Eventually, we'll be adding wines and designer meads to that list of yummies. I've got to use up my oenology certification somehow, right?

OK, who are we?

Hi, I'm Moneybags. It's my house we're putting on the line for this bakery/coffeeshop/soup kitchen. It's also many of my family recipes and recipes I've designed and created in more decades than I care to think about. Oddly enough, I'm also the one with the business management education - but not bookkeeping!

And then we have Manager. She's the sociologist (degreed, yet) who wants to open the bakery, but needs someone to fund and manage it. That's Moneybags (me).

This blog is our harum-scarum adventures along the way as we plan the bakery, find a place, buy the equipment (used, but serviceable - I'm not made out of money, you know!), get insurance, locate suppliers (hey - you offer us a deal on flour, pans, spices, drop us a line - we need you!), hire coffee monkeys, flour monkeys, and stagehands, find a good accountant who can put up with creative flybrains like us, and open the bakery to the public. It will be a definite adventure.

Why are we doing this?

Well, a few years back (formative ones for Manager), we were homeless, and we weren't able to find anyone who would help us. Manager and her baby brother were small children, and they remember the months we lived in a car fondly as an adventure. Manager, however, was just old enough to know this wasn't normal. When she started college on a Sociology Major, she discovered a lot of things about what we went through that angered her and made her want to do something about it.

See, I was old when I started my family. I'd gotten my college education, career, marriage, and all those lovely things in order before I had children. Just the sort of preson who would never be homeless, right?


Premature children and cancer ruined my career and ate up my retirement funds and savings, divorce finished us off. And because I had a college degree (now 8 years out of the work force and in need of updating), was over 30, and white, we qualified for no help at all. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nix.

It was a struggle, but I managed to find consultancy work while I figured out what to do next - I couldn't afford to update my degree and get back into that field, so it had to be something new. After years of hard work, I bought a house, put the kids through college, and now, voila! We are opening a bakery to help homeless people like we were who didn't qualify for help, were turned away from every service, were forced into living out of a car (and we were lucky we had the car). It sucked that I'd paid decades of taxes (and am a good little taxpayer again), but couldn't get any help when we most needed it because my tax dollars (and probably yours, too) went to people who never were and probably never would be taxpayers. So, we'll still pay those sucky taxes, but we'll spend our real money giving real help - via The Cracked Cauldron.

The money earned at it will support us (of course! We may be bonkers, but we're not stupid), support the business, and fund a homeless resource center. We won't be accepting government money for this because government regulations will prevent us from helping the very people we feel most needs the help - the working homeless, the displaced homeless, and the temporarily homeless - people with no children, singles, couples, mostly.

What?!?!? You didn't know that almost 60% of the homeless people have jobs? Well, they do. Most of them are homeless through a series of unfortunate events, bad luck, and bad planning. And some are homeless because of criminal acts and greedy ex-spouses. None of them qualify for welfare assistance. Just like we didn't. And all of them want to get a home and live a happy life. Just like us.

The Cracked Cauldron will provide us with the funding to begin this.

America is not the Land of the Free, because we have discovered just how much some of the licensing fees are, and the binding rules and regulations.

Check back to see how well we navigate the obstacles!

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