Startup Basics

Want to Open a Bakery? Keep These Expert Tips in Mind.

Want to Open a Bakery? Keep These Expert Tips in Mind.
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This story appears in the September 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you've ever dreamed of running a bakery, these experts have hard-won advice to share.  

Joanne Chang
Owner, Flour Bakery + Cafe, Boston

Get experience first. "If you want to open a bakery, go work in a bakery. Baking is the easy part.”

$38,350. That’s the cost of the eight-month Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York’s Institute of Culinary Education. Save it. Real-world experience will teach you payroll, ordering, inventory and all the other important stuff. “Learn these aspects on someone else’s dollar, not your own,” Chang says.

Kevin Gardner
Co-owner, Five Points Bakery and Toast Café, Buffalo

Find your balance. "Don’t sacrifice your personal happiness for your bakery, or you will lose both.”

Our experts say you’ll need...

  • License. Food handler’s or distributor’s license, depending on your state. Selling online? Check the FDA’s labeling regulations.
  • Commercial equipment. It adds up. Lower your overhead by finding used stuff at auctions and liquidation sales.
  • Space. To start, rent space hourly in a commercial commissary until you get a handle on ingredient costs and market demand.

Dominique Ansel
Owner, Dominique Ansel Bakery, New York, Tokyo, London

New ideas. "You must innovate so there’s always something new for guests to discover.”

Six to eight weeks. That’s how often Ansel changes his menu. Highlight what you do well but don’t be hemmed in by it, or customers will consider you a one-trick shop.

Pick It Up: Start Your Own Restaurant and More: Pizzeria, Coffeehouse, Deli, Bakery, Catering Business by The Staff at Entrepreneur Media and Rich Mintzer | Amazon | | Barnes & Noble

Average baker’s salary, by state: 

“Baking is nothing like what you see on TV,” says Chang. “Hours are long, pay is low and the work is extremely physical. Your nights, weekends and holidays are gone forever.” Here, what a baker can expect to make across the country, according to data culled from the American Bakers Association.

Alabama $50,567
Alaska $50,171
Arizona $47,614
Arkansas $46,128
California $51,779
Colorado $46,459
Connecticut $61,854
Delaware $37,690
District of Columbia $54,695
Florida $39,359
Georgia $57,221
Hawaii $38,551
Idaho $38,003
Illinois $61,013
Indiana $47,995
Iowa $48,383
Kansas $45,260
Kentucky $50,343
Louisiana $39,943
Maine $37,080
Maryland $51,266
Massachusetts $48,463
Michigan $49,034
Minnesota $58,751
Mississippi $34,521
Missouri $49,305
Montana $34,391
Nebraska $46,613
Nevada $43,342
New Hampshire $39,347
New Jersey $58,385
New Mexico $38,898
New York $47,708
North Carolina $46,487
North Dakota $43,243
Ohio $47,008
Oklahoma $44,861
Oregon $49,262
Pennsylvania $50,476
Rhode Island $35,197
South Carolina $43,685
South Dakota $43,362
Tennessee $52,298
Texas $46,286
Utah $44,073
Vermont $42,999
Virginia $53,125
Washington $53,456
West Virginia $35,401
Wisconsin $41,789
Wyoming $29,424

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