Baltzersen’s at Six Years Old

A blog by Paul Rawlinson.

Birthdays come around quicker and quicker with age and this is as true for Baltzersen’s the business as it is in my own life.

2018 has been a challenging year for me personally with the demise of Norse prior to the summer.  When you lead a business into administration it certainly makes you ask questions about who you are, your motivations, beliefs and capabilities.

I have lost friendships through the failure of Norse.  Some may be irreparable, others I maintain hope they could be resurrected in the future.   The experience is chastening and maintaining a low profile for a period of time is probably a natural reaction.

I don’t intend to hideaway forever though, and nor can I, because we’ve got some big changes ahead and aspirations to grow Baltzersen’s in 2019.

2018 so Far

2018 has been a year of investment at Baltzersen’s.  In January we installed a new La Marzocco Linea PB with accompanying Anfim SPII Grinder and a puqpress to allow us to brew drinks to a completely different level of quality.  10 months later it continues to be a total joy to work with.  We upgraded our service kitchen with cladding and super energy efficient fridges at the same time.

July brought a new shop front which is looking sharp and we can wholeheartedly recommend Richard Morris Carpentry to anyone looking for a great joiner for any type of bespoke work.   We upgraded our WiFi hardware last week and you should now be achieving fast broadband speeds up to 80mbps on the ‘Baltzersens Guest’ network.

In March we faced the shock loss of one of the members of our kitchen team.  One of our chefs Mike Krawczyk passed away overnight from an asthma attack.  We remembered him on World Asthma Day (1st May) raising some money for Asthma Uk and this is something we will continue to do in coming years.

Choosing to ditch disposable cups in May was probably the biggest fundamental change to the business all year.  This is a decision that was led by the heart and not the head so undoubtedly it has hit us in the pocket.  We appreciate the support from those guests that have stuck with us and decided to change their behaviour rather than their coffee shop!  I attended an industry event in Leeds the other week that discussed this topic and I have to say I left more convinced than ever that the only way to truly address the problem is with a total ban.  I would also say that not having to worry about what to do about the forthcoming ‘Latte Levy’ is a weight off my mind.

Our FredagsTaco events have been a hell of a lot of work for everyone involved and they haven’t always gone exactly to plan, but it was lovely to sign off for 2018 with our busiest event of the year in early August.

A change in weather recently signalled the return of lapskaus and soup to the menu.  We have a number of other menu changes and improvements coming up and finally should be able to plan out a regular programme of specials to add on our new-ish board.

We’ve written about loads of indie businesses this year in our regular ‘Spotlight on…’ feature the latest blog was on ‘Caine of Harrogate‘ and the next, released next week, will be on Thug Sandwich Co.

October brings our birthday and inevitably brings some new faces to Baltzersen’s as we say farewell to those members of the team who are either returning or heading off to university for the first time.  At just 18 they have often been with us for a number of years already and have become hospitality professionals.  Replacing them is a serious job and they leave a legacy  that the new crop will need to work hard to honour.  This year we wish Bronte, Ellie, Felix and Rebecca good luck in their new adventures.

We announced that we are changing the way Baltzersen’s Rewards works and today sees that new system in place as well as new till software.  Please bear with us over the next week or so as all of the team get up to speed on the new system.  It’s easy to underestimate how comfortable you get with a till and a change means that suddenly you don’t know where any products are!  The new software brings additional features that within weeks should speed service up and mean even fewer errors – and that’s our primary aim.

The Rest of 2018 and beyond

In the next month or so we plan to install a new extraction system in the service kitchen.  We’re aware that at times smoke and/or cooking smells can escape into the cafe area and that’s not what we want.  A huge benefit will also be that our team will have some welcome relief in terms of the heat in the kitchen.

We announced our new event ‘FredagsRamen’ at the end of last week and we’re excited to bring you something a little different across two dates in October and November.  You can find out more here.

Gingerbread house decorating will be back this year and Baltzersen’s Rewards members will be first to hear when bookings open.

Many of you responded to our request for information and filled out our bread survey back in June.   Opening a bakery has long been part of the the plan for Baltzersen’s and we’ve done a lot of groundwork in terms of making this happen.  Our proposal needs some further work but this is something we intend to progress into next year.

And finally……

The final words needs to be directed to you, our guests.  You are the reason that we are still here and why we come in each day ready to provide hospitality in our own particular way.  We appreciate you choosing to do so and hope to see you all many many more times over the next 12 months.

I would also like to say a thank you to Katie, our boys and wider family  whose support has been constant during some testing times this year.

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