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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

waiting for customers.....

For those on you who are not familiar with Ballinspittle...think of the movie "Chocolate" and that pretty much sums it up...Irish style..(that includes the priest!)

We have all of the bread baked, scones made(today they are spiced peacan) muffin's made,(pumpkin apple) and croissants...soup(cauliflower chorizo), ham baked etc., etc., in a nutshell..WE ARE READY!! but guess what? there are very few people in the village this the calm before the rugby 7's storm? the may bank holiday is upon us...what will happen?

the only thing i am thinking...Please ,please, please Gods of the cafe, food service industry..send me more people!!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the f*%^*ng freezer!!!

hi there...the freezer, the freezer...the fucking is still not working...yes, we can do without it...and we have, but it just means that we cannot get frozen berries for smoothies, freeze extra pastry.. ie: at the cafe we have a baking schedule, one day is puff pastry, one day is croissant dough another is brioche day along with the daily bread...the pastry day we make 40 to 50 croissants proof them and then freeze them...then bake them off fresh each morning, same goes for any of our puff pastry...and it also means that we cannot freeze anything that we may have a surplus just sucks...not only does it suck, but it looks like it will cost me another 250 euro..i swear, just when you think you have got ahead of the game, something always crops up..
on a more positive note, we had a great weekend, plenty of happy customers and plenty of staff!!

i am off to bed now...i will be in the kitchen all day tomorrow..pop in if you can..



Friday, April 23, 2010

freezer still not working!!!

yes, the freezer is still not functioning will cost another 250 euro..i lost a kilo of walnuts, not good when you are catering a job where one of the ingredients for the salad is walnuts, have no idea where the friggin things went, so that pisses me off as well as the 250..hmmm let see what else happened today to put me in this funk? not much really, on the good side of things we were busy today...lots of cake was sold, my accountant saved me shitloads of money on my VAT return and i got my hair done...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

on a tastier note: blue velvet banana cake....

i got inspired last night and made a colorful, yep you guessed it... banana cake!
its got vanilla coconut buttercream and white chocolate chunks. the blue velvet frosting job, totally matches the cafe.


baking tip
less is more when it comes to cake decorating!

the culprit....

here's the freezer with the faulty compressor, couldnt you have just blow a bulb or something that costs less than 700 euro?!

so its 1:18pm and it seems theres no sign of the freezer repair guy. this is a mini crisis here.... but thank god our landlord is letting us use his chest freezer or we'd be having christmas diner all over again! when will our repair man show up?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Remember my post about hidden cost's..?

Well...guess what? those hidden cost's crept up on me today, the compressor in our industrial freezer broke!!! Fuck...that's what I have to say about that...700 euro to fix, plus all that we somewhat lost in the defrost...
Too pissed off to write anymore....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sunday's at The cafe..

Sunday's at the cafe can be pretty hectic! And this Sunday was no exception...since we are short staffed, all of us had to have our shit together, otherwise...well, you don't want to know...
I am going to give you a brief of a typical Sunday.
arrive at 10 (we open at 11), turn on everything, ovens, espresso machine, dishwasher, music... get baked good in the oven.. do a quick inventory of what have and what we need to prep... depending on how busy we were on saturday, this can be a short list or a big person will get the front of the cafe set up this includes..getting all water jugs filled, newspaper, setting up/cleaning up pastry case, fill milk jugs, make lemonade, getting tables tidied the kitchen we are just making sure that we are ready to go... so, if you happen to rock up to the cafe at five min before opening and we say, we are not open, we are's just that those five min can be crucial to us getting ready to serve you properly...last week we were busy right from the start...and with one person missing on the was hard work to have happy customers..
this is how i like to have the cafe staffed on a sunday...2 in the kitchen and 2 on the floor...we had 3, so that meant, i was in the back running up to the front to drop off orders, helping Dee get coffees out and clearing tables.. the girl in the back is not totally familiar with the menu, so i was cooking orders as the height of the season, we can have 5 on at once...2 in the kitchen, 2 on the floor(1 person on coffee's/drinks, serving cakes and 1 person taking orders) and then 1 runner/dishwasher... A little side note, to those of you who want to have your own's great to be busy, but that means more staff etc.,, factor that into your budget...
Anyhow...we did it! we got through this past sunday fairly well...there was a moment of complete overwhelming AAAGGGRRRHHH...but with a few deep breaths, and smiles and we will be right with you's, we made it...and thank you to all of our customers who understand....

Customer service tip:
be sure to communicate with your customer's....
keep them up filled in on what is happening in the cafe, if the kitchen
is slammed and they are in a hurry, they will appreciate the info to decide what they are going to order..and always have a smile for everyone who walks in the door!

Monday, April 19, 2010

i live upstairs....

so i made the move! i now live on top of the bakery. i can drop down for my morning coffee, bug my coworkers, eat cake all day. and work till 12am and not worry about how to get home. it seems ideal. but is it? im at easy reach if they are short staffed, and i can hear dee pounding the coffee machine at 9am. which isnt that bad at all.
i guess we'll see. im really enjoying the space up here, the flat is spacious enough. and we are getting some space out in garry lucas to plant some veggies! im optimistic.
ballinspittle has a buzz about it.. its its own little center, which until recently was a ghost village.
ill fill in more later about wonderful ballinspittle. ive worked here off and on for 3 years. so as far as living here goes.... its a new relationship.
the cafe is super busy anyways, which is nice to have downstairs, the bustling little cafe where people are happy to be. a lot of the people are friends of ours so its nice to have them around!

on the flipside:
shannen wants to have a contest on our facebook page, for naming our new gluten, and dairy free chocolate cake. so tune into the facebook page if you havent already!
at diva boutique bakery
my vote is "wishful thinking cake," its still chocolate cake for crissakes!


Friday, April 16, 2010

Two Loaves!

Today we only sold two loaves of bread....
It was sunny, it was beautiful....cakes were sold, coffee was sold...but the bread was a low point..however, the bread that was sold.....2 beautiful loaves of rosemary kalamata olive with sea those two people who bought them..i hope you enjoyed it!
this is the reality of having a cafe in a rural beautiful gets slow, and you never know what is going to happen...but i will say this...I wouldn't be anywhere else!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

the bananas!

so im not sure if anyone posted about bananas, but we had a lot of them.
10 kilos or more. maybe 20.
we've made banana bread, banana cupcakes with almond icing, a different banana bread, bana cake with white chocolate frosting, smoothies, and im sure we even used them to wash the dishes. we used them all the time. but im really happy to say that bananas are great but, im tired of looking at them! and! they are just about gone!
good thing most baking recipes call for over ripe bananas! they are sweeter and better in cakes than hard yellow ones.
that was a Baking Tip if you didn't catch that! mash em up before you add to your recipe.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Yay!! today was a record bread selling day!! 8 loaves!!!
If we can just make it to 15 by next month we will be on target for trying to sell 40 loaves by was a great day!
For those of you who are thinking...Shannen, really? You are excited over 8 measly loaves? My answer is YES! I am always trying to be optimistic, if I wasn't, I don't think I would have lasted this long in good ol'Ballinspittle... that is another word of advice i would give to those who are thinking about opening a sure and give yourself plenty of time...and in that plenty of time be prepared to have seriously sore feet, from working your ass off...
I will tell you more about working your ass off in Ballinspittle at a later time...
Hope you are all enjoying the Spring, wherever you may be!!

PS comments would be really appreciated :) don't be shy...let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time..

Hi it's me again, I was going to wait until tomorrow, but now that this is on my mind i am going to write about it ... just so you all know i have been out tonight and had a few if there is typo's that is why... excuse me in advance..
Like i was saying in my earlier post, we were very busy today...but before the madness we had a customer come in.... just so you know all of us who work at the cafe can pretty much tell what a customer wants right when they walk in... anyhow, this woman walks in and wants to see the menu, explains that she has two kids with her and wants to make sure that we have something that they will eat... me being a parent understands all of this, i give her the menu, explain what we don't have(but there are, like 25 items that we DO have) and that we can do half portions of anything that do have...i take another order and go in the kitchen to start preparing that order...Dee steps in to take the woman's order, meanwhile she has re-arranged the cafe to suit her and her children...which i will add, is totally fine... then proceeds to order one of the items that i said we don't have(dee heard me say "we don't have the waffles, our waffle maker had it's final days in december, i will be getting a new one)..she got cross with Dee when he informed her that we do not have that item, and Dee offered other items on the menu for her kids...she then said her kids only wanted the waffles(her children were quiet young) and got up and took off!!! in a huff...what can i say...we tried, and if the woman who i am talking about reads this, I am really sorry we couldn't accommodate you, but maybe your kids should just eat what you tell them too, that's what i did with mine... anyhow, thats all i have to say about that.

Thursadays can be depressing...

I know many of you out there will be saying to yourselves "Why can Thurdays be depressing Shannen??" well....let me tell you

This time of year when we re-open, our Monday is Thursday, and if it is rainy...well you all know what a rainy Monday is being a cafe owner, and only open 4 days a week you really want your stuff to sell...taylor was in last night baking his little butt off and so far today we have sold only 2 loaves of bread...bummer you may say....however ,i am going to be optomistic!! over the weekend we sold about 6 loaves a day plus all of our day old bread...not bad...only 34 more loaves a day to reach our goal..

on a more positive we had a DEAD and i mean DEAD morning, but all of the sudden...BAM! people came outta no where...and the great thing is, a good few of those people i have never seen before in the cafe, so hopefully that means the word is spreading...i made a big ass pot of broccoli and cheddar soup..sold out!! wow...I was happy about that...

we have a beautiful Hummingbird cake today, and that is going quite, so far this thursday is looking much better than last thursday, as we speak...we are up quite a bit from last week and we still have an hour and 15 min left of bread selling time!!!!

one interesting thing, one of my regular customer's only just noticed our big bread display on top of the cake case...he has been in a good few times since we opened and only just saw it...i think i need to start!

ttfn....peace out


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

the hidden costs of running a cafe in ireland!

Happy April everyone!!
I have been putting off writing this blog...due to me trying to work out the hidden costs of a going through my bills, looking at a budget for this for those of you who are interested in opening a cafe in Ireland, here is a little advice..that i wish someone had given to me.
1) make sure you have a very good accountant who understands the food service industry.
I went into my accountant before opening my business, and he never informed me about the 3 different VAT brackets for a, now that i have a great woman doing my books for me, she is going through everything with a fine tooth comb, my VAT bill is going down! i have had to pay her 4,000 euro to do that, so we will see how the savings work out..
2)with each employee you hire set aside at least 20 euro a week per person to pay into PRSI, you can take it out of their pay, but since i am small and have many staff coming and going i pay it for them...again i wish my accountant would have set up a better payroll system before i started my business..
3)insurance, we all need it and it is not really a hidden cost but an extra cost(which all of the above are really not hidden either, i just didn't know about them) insurance runs about 1,400 per year, that is also including my market insurance...
4)servicing your equipment! just paid 275 before i even opened the cafe to service my espresso well spent, it is extracting beautiful shots of espresso! however, sometimes you buy new equipment and it breaks after a our pastry case in the old shop, 500 euro for a new motor...150 euro to have a guy come and look at a brand new ice machine that when plugged in did not produce ice, 500 euro spent in 2 years on our oven, due to a wire coming loose, so the temperature would not go up.....leaky plumbing or backed up plumbing, can average about 100-200 euro per year
5)money or goods given to charities.. we give out about 200 a year in goods and cash for local projects...
6)up-grading your kitchen...1000-3000 a year depending on the equipment you want to get...i would like to get a second oven with a 6 burner gas cooktop, even second hand they are 1,200.
we could also do with a small sheeter, now that we are baking croissants and making more puff pastry...but so far it has been manageable hand rolling...
7)paint, flowers, and general interior up keep, adding shelves, improving seating etc.,..1,000-1,500 per year depending on how much work you are doing..
8)staff outings, these have been curbed during the past few years...maybe 200 last year, but in the past could be 500 plus(that includes gifts etc.,)
9)opening parties or "thank you" parties for your customers...these little shin digs are two fold...last year in november we had an art exhibition that included our christmas catering menu...we had mini bites of all that was on the catering menu, so that our customers might like to use us for any extra catering for christmas..that took a bit of time and food, i reckon we spent including labour, 350-400 euro, not including booze..but we did get a good few christmas catering jobs out of it...but on average i would say you could budget about 200 extra a year...
10)rubbish collection...1000 a year
11)electricity...2,000-3,000 per year....gas bottles roughly 750 per year
12)advertising...500 plus a year
ok, this is depresing!!!!
There are more costs...but i won't go into these, labour, food all is out the bottom line had better be doing this job as a labour of love cos' you have got ALOT of bills to pay before you see the money hit your hand!!
Whew, with all of that talk about money I think in need a break...
I am going to have a glass of wine(maybe several) a hot shower and to bed with my hot boyfriend!
by for now....