The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

help!! how to open a bakery?

tyarah's picture

help!! how to open a bakery?


i m a younh french lady who is looking to open a french bakery in uk!!

well i ve been living here for 4 years now and noticed that english love "french stuff" baguette croissant pain au chocolat etc .....and a part fron paul bakery and polish bakery they dont have anything similar.....

where to start? how to start? need your advice and support  thanks!!




cleancarpetman's picture

I am no expert but worked in restaurants for 18 years.  The answers to the questions you ask, take years to learn.  My suggestion is: with youth on your side either go to a first rate culinary school and learn to bake and run a business or for your education go to work in a bakery for a year, minimum, five would be better. Knowing how to bake a pain au chocolate is different than knowing how to turn out 50 Pain au Chocolate that all look alike, while mixing, proofing and baking baguettes, croissants, miches and boules and turning out a few dozen cookies, muffins and scones to fill your display cases.  It is necessary for any successful baker to know how to bake, how to teach and manage bakers and how to have a vision for where the bakery will be 5, 10, 15 years down the road.  Running a successful bakery is more that knowing how to bake.  Can you merchandise your wares?  Can you get financing?  Can you do the books and know exactly when you break even each day and when you make a profit and how much?
     My dear Tyarah, all of this is KNOWABLE and DOABLE it just takes time and determination to know and do it.  Pattern YOUR bakery after only the most successful bakeries you can find. Discover your niche and exploit it.   Decide now to be the best.  Your naivete makes your questions sweet and if you begin this journey, as I suggest you do, you will find so many more questions to ask.  Ask them of people who know what you want to know, who are where you want to be someday.  Yes, even interview bakers who are good at what they do.
    In American slang we say, "You go, girl!!"




ivy b's picture
ivy b

EXCELLENT answer!  I came on to say basically, the same thing! Couldn't have saidi t better!

Young French Girl: Allow me to also add: YOU GO,GIRL! :-D


ivy, ny

Broc's picture

You guys need to learn to spell...


It's "U go, gurl!"


:)   :)   :)

louiscohen's picture

The only thing I would add is that in culinary school they teach us that the way to make a small fortune in foodservice is to start with a large fortune.  

Before you go "all in" as they say at the poker table, you might try starting small with the minimum outlay of capital - perhaps you could rent space during off hours in a restaurant kitchen, produce some breads, and sell them at farmers' markets, or though existing grocery stores (from racks with your name on them).  If they sell well and customers keep asking for more, then you can consider raising capital for your own place.  

You might consider a partnership:

- you will manage the business including marketing

- a baker provides the expertise

- an investor provides the capital


cleancarpetman's picture

Conserve that capital!!

Around here the money trees have been dropping their blooms before fruiting.  Advise caution.

The other caution is that partnerships are the shortest lived business model and have the highest failure rate.  So be careful.  I know, I know, yours will be different.  I won't ITYS


tyarah's picture


I would like to thank you  for all the information you just gave me.....

Regarding all the questions you ve asked me yes i have some money on the side about 10 000 ground but i dont have any training at all on how to bake i know it sound stupid but ...i was hoping to have like  chef sous chef etc......i want to hire people to do the work also in france you dont need any experience to open a bakery so.....

For the paper work and managing staff and merchandise  i should be ok...i work as manager .....

I really think it would work  my head is just full of idea but .....dont know what to do

cleancarpetman's picture

Tyarah-- Put ALL your ideas on paper in one place, like a tablet or spiral binder, Good and Bad. Carry it with you--it is your new baby!  Put them in question form.  How do I...?  Where can I...?  When can I...?  Keep adding and checking off ones you have answered.  Don't let any idea escape.  If you don't do this, MOST will be lost forever.  Bad ideas lead to better ideas.  All ideas and especially ones asked as a question will stimulate your brain.  They will be like seeds that grow and produce fruit.
       NEVER, NEVER, NEVER allow the word, can't into your brain.  Can't is a word that will SHUT YOUR BRAIN OFF!!.  Immediately think in terms of "HOW can I...?"  This line of thinking will keep your brain working and seeking answers just as it should.
   Manage your PROJECT like a legitimate enterprise because, it is.  Set dates and deadlines for your questions and steps to success.
  Figure out NOW what the bakery "looks like" sizewise physical and personnel, an organizational chart. Read "E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber. Begin to place machinery and get a flow going, revise it according to new information.  Work in your imaginary bakery until you know it like the back of your hand otherwise you will never know whether you have reached your goal or not.  Get the vision, keep the vision.




tyarah's picture

Right!! so about the late answer but i was trying to follow your advice ccm!

Right 2 questions:

-Open a bakery in a normal shop as in rent a shop and then staff to do most the stuff


-have a warehouse and put all the equipement there hire somes staff and DELIVER ma service?

What to sell?

-All the main "english meal" Jacket potatos all the crips (you people loves that) or

-have an all typical french meals? drink baguette with feeling of your choice and dessert "patisserie"

have a huge selection for weding cakes?

Having a cook coffee? tea etc.... that you can yourself maybe?

Panini with all types of feeling?

A lot of patisserie that s for sure!



pictures of city of paris

maybe pictures "french food"


Amd last question? should i get a course o how to bake or should i hire someone elses that can do all this staff at the levels that i want?










cleancarpetman's picture

Tyarah-- All great questions.  As I said in my first post I am not an expert but even if I were, I feel that these are all questions that only you can answer.  Only you can decide who your market is and what will fly with them.  Likely you will make some mistakes in the beginning and will need to make some adjustments.  Opening your own business is never a straight line proposition.   
    You have an excellent idea to hire staff but I caution you in your management style.  You are less likely to get the maximum out of your staff if you don't know how or don't participate in the work in a meaningful fashion.  It is far easier to get compliance if you are up to your elbows in croissant dough when you ask your staff to carry out their tasks.  You also want to have enough knowledge of your product that you know when it is being prepared correctly and when someone is "cheating."
So, as for your last question I am always in favor of more education.  Get to know all your products so you can prepare them as well as your best staff because at some point you may need to step in to do just that.  Staff sometimes leaves or fails to arrive on time and as the owner you need to be able to take up the slack.
     Finally, remember that you are not going to be in the bakery business per se but you are providing a very warm, friendly and cozy atmosphere of family where baked goods are made by hand and sold and served with passion and the utmost care and concern for your guest. Your ultimate success or failure will have less to do with how high your bread rises or how sweet is the pan au chocolate and much more on your people skills.  Do your people on both sides of the counter know you, love you, care about your business?  They will, if, you first show that you know them, love them and care about their business.  You ideally will live to serve those people, the ones who work for you and the one who buy from you.  There will always be competition.  Mrs. McGillicuddy can get her croissants in a tube in the grocery and bake them at home.  Or she can come to your shop and be greeted by name with a genuine smile that says, "I am glad you came in here and I want to know how I might best serve your every need today including encouragement when she loses her dog or celebrating her son's acceptance to Eton."  Your attitude of care and passion for baking and serving people will overcome the most severe production mistake but peerless patisserie will never override a dour look, no matter how sweet the taste.  Message: your customers are buying you and your staff not the baked goods.

Blessings on your endeavor.




tyarah's picture

thanks for your response

i think that you are right i I will have to step in at som point to cover if something goes wrong the problem is would i be able to do it?

regarding the help my other half and some friend will help me out...

i ve just read on internet that i need a food license and its free, i can buy some "used" equipment for the kitchen but i dont seem to find what kind of equipement i ll need a part from the oven   i think the most expenive!! and all the accesories  

or maybe buy frozen :-( croissant and baguette like most the french boulangerie do in france and in that case no problem for stafing?

how about money? how much do you think i ll need to have to start with?


cleancarpetman's picture

Tyarah--different country, currency, standard of living, I couldn't begin to guess.  I would have trouble even here in the States as well.  Here is where your spiral binder contains items needed and the researched prices of each and then the decision as to what to afford and what to do without, conserving as much of your operating capital as possible before you swing open your doors.
     My, but the education part before you start is sounding like a better and better idea.  Better to take the time to find out, patiently, what you are doing than to go off half cocked and blow your savings and wind up with no money and your first failed business.  Key point-- If you don't listen to me and you blow it, decide while you're still sitting on the curb in front of the locked doors you will do it again and this time make changes designed to aid your success.  Don't quit after one failure.  I am on the sixth generation of my business model.  It doesn't look anything like what I started with but it is much more successful.  Am I a millionaire?  No, but I work for myself and enjoy many liberties not even dreamed of by those who work for a paycheck. 


Liam's picture


I have no experience with opening a bakery, but lots of experience with the "I can't do this mentality"  At 50+ yrs of age I also know good advice when I see it.  All the advice you have been given is good. I would add three things.  1) Find a location with good foot traffic (lots of people walking by - to the Tube or non food stores).  Check what any other nearby cafe's are selling and plan to do something better and different that you know well (like what a great brioche should look and taste like etc.). Planning to buy frozen stuff will not make your shop any better than "Aunt Letty's chips shop"  and you certainly won't get return trade 2) Read Daniel Leader's "Bread Alone", he tells his story of beginning a bread baking  business from the ground up and all the growing pains in a friendly approachable way. - I am sure there are other equally friendly books, but I like his book and his bread, it always works and tastes great! 3) Talk to your local government and M.P's, ask a good accountant or two about what you need before you start spending money and formulate a business plan.  Finally try emailing Jaimie Oliver for advice - you have nothing to lose and he will lend a sympathetic ear and appropriate and good tips to save you the worst miseries.  Good luck-with a lot of hard work you will create something truly your own.  Remember, though, if you are not willing to work very very hard you don't want it very very badly.  Enthusiasm will only take you so far, and doesn't pay the bills.



tyarah's picture


when i say i want to have some frozen stuff its because i am not qualified to do my own bred so frozen french bread and croissant etc will be the best option but then i will need to find e french supplier not english.

If i have to hire  someone then if that person does not turn up what do i do? also that same person will need to star at least around 3 or 4am....i am just thinking what will be the best option for me.

also i would like to have everything set before to look for place to buy or rent so i ll not have to lose money on rent and start straight away.



nbicomputers's picture

Any person that has had more than 10 years of experience in the baking industry knows what kind of hours are required to work in a bakery. My day is used to start at 11 PM 1 AM and I would work through sometimes till one or two in the afternoon.

 As for getting everything ready before you find the place and rent that's going to be almost impossible you going to need at least an 80 quart mixer perhaps two of them if not I would recommend one 80 quart and 140 quart mixer or 180 quart mixer and one spiraled mixer.

 These two machines alone can weigh between 300 pounds to 1000 pounds each a four deck revolving shelve oven can also weigh about 1000 pounds or more that doesn't include the weight and storage space required for hundred pound bags of flour sugar and other dry storage ingredients vegetable shortening and butter come in 50 pound boxes and 68 pound boxes frozen eggs and egg yolk's come in 30 pound cans or 30 dozen shell eggs to a box. You will need a large amount of dry storage space as well as refrigerated storage space and freezer storage space for raw materials. You will also need freezer and refrigerated storage space for shaped product that will be stored until ready to prove and baked. You also need refrigerated frozen and dry display cases at the least optional are bread slicing machines coffee and cappuccino machines and of course cash registers bakery style boxes for pastries wax covered bags and white paper bags and butcher paper for breads.

 I have spent many years of my career as a consultant for the baking industry after you have a business plan set up and know exactly what products you want to produce and sell if you do not have executive baker or are one yourself you would need someone like myself a consultant that will guide you through the procedures and get your store running. I will tell you in advance that expertise in the field such as mine will not come cheap. I will tell you this much before you start anything you will have to have your location and a floor plan showing how much square footage and space you actually will have in order to plan out the locations of the mixing station ovens and proof boxes as well as refrigeration and freezers. It is hard to be a carpenter if you don't know about wood. In order to be an executive baker you need to have knowledge of making chemistry raw materials as well as procedures how to mix shape baked and production knowledge of how to prepare and set the shop up for the next day's production. You also have to know how to set up production schedules so you will know when to baked each item. You cannot just look at the shelves and say we're out of this we need to make this right now doing that will never get your baked goods in the store on time and will surely disappoint your customers. So you will also need to have knowledge as to how long an item takes from raw materials to finished goods including fermentation time mixing time retardation time and many of the skills.

 You can contact me here on this board or by e-mailing me directly I will try my best to answer some of your questions preferably by direct e-mail.

louiscohen's picture

Much of what you wrote, we hear from our culinary school baking instructor, who had his own bakeshop for many years and now works as the baker for a local deli.   Not only do you have to have all those things right, and work long hours, you have to get every last thing just right or your thin profit margins will evaporate.  

I think you have to absolutely love it to try to make a living at it.  Perhapos you should work in a bakery for a while to try to learn the business.  

Or maybe you could just start by importing frozen product and selling it to existing bakeries and stores with in-store bakeries.  

Wild-Yeast's picture


I suggest you read the following book:

Alice was particularly clueless about the restaurant business when she started but had, above all, an idea that she thought was sound. . . ,


cookingwithdenay's picture

One of the major errors made by new business owners is not asking the right questions because you simply don't know the "right" questions to ask. I grew up in a family business (dad had it for 30+ years) before going into the Navy and it was the best experience ever. I know most folks don't like to read, but if I can tell you anything, please read. Read, read, read. You can learn from the experiences of others and avoid spending too much money. Get a mentor if you can find someone with no ego and surround yourself with quality people, no nay sayers!

Here are a couple books you might want to consider. Browse the baking bookstore, I recommend these to my students often and all have appreciated it. The business plan book is excellent, one of the best I've seen in a while.

turosdolci's picture

Anyone starting a business should first start with a comprehensive business plan. There are many formats available on the internet or on accounting or financial web sites.  It takes time but it will guide you and help you to see if it is feasable for you, what it is going to take and how long to accomplish your goal.  Without this it is hit or miss and mostly miss. Know what your doing before you go out and spend your money.

elizacakes's picture

This is kind of interesting: a chance to win a bakery in RI: .

Write an essay to enter, could win entire business, equipment, etc. I'd do it, if I didn't just have a baby!

GTurch52's picture

I too, would to love an open a bakery/cafe. What I would love to have is a partner that knows how to decorate. I have the recipes, the culinary educations and backgrounds and the business plan. Now to win the lottery or have a prayer answered. lol

GTurch52's picture

I too, would to love an open a bakery/cafe. What I would love to have is a partner that knows how to decorate. I have the recipes, the culinary educations and backgrounds and the business plan. Now to win the lottery or have a prayer answered. lol

baking cowgirl's picture
baking cowgirl

Tyraah, Why don't you try having a stand/booth  at a farmers' market - see what sells learn how to bake in volume and get clients all for very little financial outlay and you do not need to cook in a licensed kitchen to sell your products.  Start small find your niche and go from there, Good luck - the baking cowgirl

Kroha's picture

Hi Tyarah,

I am not a baker and do not have a business background, but have had many related conversations in the past with my businessman husband.  The first thing that jumps at me is -- it is highly unlikely that you are the first French person to come to the UK and get the idea about the bakery.  So, find out what happened and why there are no French bakeries where you are.  There must be a reason.  Have there ever been such bakeries?  Were they successful?  If not, can you find out why?  If you know of a successful French bakery somewhere in the country, preferrably in a place similar to were you want to open (small or large city, transient or not, diverse or not), learn as much as possible about them, their business model, etc.  Along with figuring out how to open a bakery, you also need to figure out if there is a market out there for what you want to make, if there are enough people who are willing to buy it for as much as you want to sell it for, and if those people are willing to come to the bakery often enough.  Also, figure out who your potential competitors are, and how you are going to beat them, when you can expect to become profitable, how much money you need until that happens.  Select your team -- who will do marketing for you, etc?  In other words, write a good business plan.  You need to have a good bakery, but also a solid business, and you need to be thinking of both.

Best wishes,


turosdolci's picture

Like any other business you should start first with a business plan.  There are plenty of free formats on the internet and some that are for bakeries. Also if you have no background in baking, then I suggest that you take a program at a cooking school first and learn a little about the industry.  Also get a little experience maybe as an apprentice, doesn't matter if it is French or not, but this will at least get you some pratical experience and help you decide if this is really what you want to do.  The next very important thing after you complete the business plan is to have enough capaital to take you through 2-5 years. Most small business fail due to lack of capital. You can also start small like some people have suggested here as a home business or in a farmers market, but you still need money. A detailed business plan will lay it all out for you and givve you a good idea if this is something that you can make a go of.  It is a hard business, but you can start small and build it up if you know is required.  Good Luck