A Year in Dates
Most years I write a little review of what’s happened for us at Baltzersen’s and then do a look forward to what’s coming up.
I don’t really want to dwell on 2020 too much, if nothing else since March it’s been an exhausting 9 months for everyone and no stranger year for many of us. It’s been full of highs, lows and in-betweens albeit depending on individual circumstances the highs have maybe been rather brief. Here’s a quick rundown of things that stood out from our perspective:
13 Jan 20: Heads of Terms agreed on bakery site at Springfield Farm
20 Mar 20: UK Locked down – Cafe closes
28 Mar 20: First (and only) test bake at bakery prior to opening
31 Mar 20: Bakeri Baltzersen opens, first deliveries and collections available
15 May 20: Cafe reopens for food and drink to collect
28 May 20: Reuben hits the Baltzersen’s menu for collections
2 Oct 20: Bakeri Baltzersen shop at 2 Garrick Buildings opens
5 Nov 20: Lockdown 2.0 begins
6 Nov 20: Baltzersen’s live for delivery via UberEats
25 Nov 20: Bakeri Baltzersen Pop-up shop in Knaresborough opens
24 Dec 20: Two bakers test positive for COVID-19 at bakery, enforced shutdown until 4 Jan 21
31 Dec 20: North Yorkshire moved into Tier 3, Cafe closes………
Baltzersen’s Cafe and Coffee Shop
At the cafe and coffee shop we’re seeing 2021 as a time to rebuild and inevitably this will very much be led by the prevailing conditions as dictated by COVID-19. We have some minor improvements to make to the service kitchen and some other cosmetic changes. We’ll just plan to remain very flexible in the face of the changes forced upon us. As I write we are open only for takeaway (plus click and collect via Tock or delivery via UberEats) and this may extend throughout January and beyond.
Depending how long the current restrictions are in place we may try to put on some special events over weekends – but this is only at the early planning stage at the moment.
Bakeri Baltzersen Shop (Harrogate)
We’re really pleased with how things have been going in the bakery shop so it’s very much a case of tweaking things on this front. We’ll secure some more stock from other producers to go in our fridge and perhaps on some shelves, but broadly speaking developing the existing offer with some updated and some new lines within the current space.
Bakeri Baltzersen Pop-up Shop (Knaresborough)
In the immediate future we’ve agreed to extend our pop-up in Knaresborough for at least another month but we have a rolling agreement in place so we aren’t limited to that time. We’ve seen sales continue at what must be considered more normal levels after the initial excitement but we hope we can find a baseline and then start to grow in early 2021.
We’ll also look to tweak what we have on offer to make it more appealing to a wider base. We’ve been asked by so many people about coffee but it’s a really big investment to do coffee the way we do it so it’s not immediately on our list of things to add.
Bakery Shop 3.0 (Location TBC)
Our experience with the Harrogate shop in particular means has shown us that there is demand for our bakery products. When we’re able to pair this with really good coffee and some other food to go it seems to be a formula that people enjoy. We’ve visited one potential site in the area already and have our sights set on opening a second bakery shop in Spring 2021 , dependant on us securing the necessary finance to make it happen.
Bakery Site at Springfield Farm – Increased Capacity
We’re really pleased to be planning to work with local consultant Jo Crebbin, from Honeycomb Consulting, in conjunction with the support from the Manufacturing Growth Programme and potentially the Strategic Growth Programme in the future. We’re hoping to support and grow our wholesale partners (like Harewood House pictured above) by maximising production capacity in our existing space before then looking to a new facility in late 2021 or early 2022. [nb. I write it here so there is a record of it and it means I’m more likely to make it happen!!]
In many ways I think we will eventually look back on 2020 as a defining year in the development of Baltzersen’s as a business. Establishing the bakery has been the single biggest step forward for the business since we first opened the doors over 8 years ago. It has at once been a glimpse of the future whilst also being the saviour of the present.
I have no concept of what state the business and our family would be in without the bakery to have clung onto during this year. It has provided a focus for us, but most importantly it has been the thing that ultimately has ensured the survival of the wider business and preserved the jobs of the 42 people whom we currently employ.
We have been supported throughout by guests and customers and we cannot thank everyone enough for visiting the cafe, the coffee shop takeaway window, ordering via UberEats, collecting via Tock, having a home bakery deliveries, bakery pick ups, becoming a wholesale customer, purchasing a mail order gingerbread house or taken us up on anything else we have offered. It’s been a year of many channels and developing whatever revenue streams have been available!
We will continue to serve you from the coffee shop window during this current period of Tier 3 measures and from the bakery shops or our online shop (which has now reopened) with service and deliveries from 5th Jan onwards.
We’d like to echo the sentiments that we’ve heard for much of the year about indie businesses. Some businesses have unfortunately already fallen by the wayside, many of our colleagues are existing on a knife edge with survival not guaranteed for anyone at this stage. We all do what we have to do for our own situation whether that is based on convenience, health, financial pressures, etc, but if you can support an indie business in any way (even just commenting on and sharing their material on social media) over the next few months it will be gratefully received by them and indeed us.
Good luck for this new year, we hope it’s one to remember for all the right reasons.
Paul and all of the Baltzersen’s and Bakeri Baltzersen Team.
There are some huge “thankyous” to be said to so many people, but specifically people in our organisation where the words ‘above and beyond’ don’t really cover it. I wasn’t sure if everyone would want to read these little tributes so I’ve popped them here at the bottom. I would be naturally inclined to include photos – but that probably wouldn’t be appreciated! We’ll leave them to their mystique. In no particular order:
If there is someone who has worked harder and longer in 2020 I would be amazed. Rob has been the driving (literally) force behind us getting the bread from the bakery to the places it needed to be at the right time and in the right quantities.
I don’t think either of us will forget the first morning of packing deliveries at the bakery which was entirely disastrous on virtually every level. The comedy continued and we finally got everything to the coffee shop for collection to then have to search through each bag as customers arrived because we were using order numbers rather than names.
Since then he’s just continued to push forward putting together the current team of drivers, packers and cleaners including Geoff, Steph, Patrick, Chris and Kevin
When we started baking in March 2020 we had a team of three – Head Baker Jacob and then Nathan and Emma who moved across from the cafe for their new roles. As we speak at the end of 2020 we have 7 full time bakers with number 8 joining us in early Jan 2021.
Comparisons from March to now are difficult. We baked 3500 products in our first week, the week before Christmas we baked over 12,000. It’s approaching somewhere in the region of 650,000 products so far.
There have been some stressful times, long days and nights and challenging results. Throughout the bakers have generally come through it all as a team, and for that they should be very proud and, I hope, be looking forward to see where we can take this thing in 2021.
It’s all good being able to make and deliver the bread but you need to be able to sell it first. If you felt that during the first lockdown all you saw was pictures of our bread and pastries all over social media then Beverley was the lady that made that happen. Beverley has been running our social media and marketing for the last two years so was instrumental in promoting events like our Fredagstaco/Fredagsramen, Onnuri Korean food collabs, gingerbread decorating, launching our range of tarts, the ‘People of Baltzersen’s’ project and many many more.
We are currently looking for someone to pick up that mantle and begin working with us in 2021 – more detail is here.
Team Gingerbread: Gem, Megan and Katie
One word required here – gingerbread…… We decided we couldn’t let the tradition of the last 7 years fall by the wayside due to a mere global pandemic so gingerbread decorating kits to collect, by local delivery or by mail order were created.
The team baked over 350 gingerbread houses, and they were virtually all packe by Katie who managed the logistics of the operation. I think everyone was pleased when it was over but I’m sure they will have forgotten by next year and will be keen to beat that target.
Jess Mercer, Ben Keightley and Teams
It’s not just been about the bakery though. You don’t operate a cafe for eight years and then find that it stumbles in the face of the first bit of adversity.
Jess has been part of Baltzersen’s since before day one – the only person apart from me and Katie, who can stake that claim. She has been great throughout at managing and communicating with the front of house team – especially when I was too overwhelmed with bakery stuff to really deal with it. She’s been there to oversee the constant changes in layout, service style, menu, sales channels etc etc etc.
Ben joined towards the end of 2019 but this year has really been on top of things with the kitchen team. He isn’t phased by anything I throw at him, he takes my critique of dishes in a good way and always comes back with improvements. He’s been behind new popular dishes like the reuben, the current Christmas Sandwich and endless tweaks to other areas. He’s also worked really well with the new team down at the bakery shop.
Ben, Jenny and Steph at the Bakery Shop
Jenny is a face many of you will have seen throughout the first period of lockdown and now beyond. Jenny couldn’t be furloughed and we were happy to be able to get her involved initially with packing and then serving bread and pastries from the cafe. She transitioned to the bakery shop once it opened up down at 2 Garrick Buildings.
I felt very very lucky to get a speculative email from Ben Mingam on his return from overseas enquiring about job vacancies and to be able to ring him up and say ‘I have just the thing for you’. Ben has so much experience from running Le Gourmet and it was a total no brainer to get him involved as manager of the Bakery shop. Ben hired Steph Pomfret who joined us from M&S and with help from the rest of the team the bakery shop seems to be going from strength to strength over the last 3 months.
Matthew Lloyd/Ben Bentley/Jonny Pye
We’ve been really looked after by a couple of local photographers this year. In particular Matthew Lloyd was so flexible with us shooting our products delivered to his doorstep on a regular basis throughout the early parts of Summer. The quality of the photos for a Visa campaign in which we were involved helped to get us more heavily featured than I think we would have been otherwise. Ben Bentley and Jonny Pye were on the spot on a couple of other occasions just when we needed them.