Everything you should know to open a successful pastry shop

Open a successfull pastry shop: everything you should know

The world of catering, pastry, street food and everything related to cuisine (Italian and international) has been experiencing for several years a period that we could define as “mediatically overexposed”, in which television programs, blogs, podcasts and video in which food preparation is king. Alongside the most well-known television formats such as Masterchef, Hell’s Kitchen (born under the figure of Gordon Ramsey), dozens of other programs are broadcasted that span the entire food knowledge.

The world of pastry does not lag behind in this television and web visibility, showing on the one hand the commitment to excellence of young pastry chefs as well as the mastery of high-sounding names in the sector (just mention Iginio Massari in this sense), on the other hand educational growth of ordinary people who want to grow from a technical point of view. This last category also includes those who wish to open a laboratory and renounce their study and work path carried out so far, trying to change their life and follow the passion for sweets.

Opening a pastry shop is not easy and requires taking care of many aspects, from the more structural ones, inherent to the place and the equipment, to the bureaucratic ones (the most insidious), without forgetting the technique and skill: inaugurating a pastry shop being able making only shortbread biscuits in the oven is not the brightest idea in the world. Passion must always be combined with a healthy dose of realism and technical training, especially in a country like ours rich in culinary tradition and refined tastes in terms of food in general.

Venturing into the confectionery sector with this goal does not simply mean practicing a hobby or practicing a dream that has been cultivated for years, for that the home walls are enough in which to dabble for friends and family. Opening a pastry shop means starting a business, a commercial activity devoted to sales in which many leaps into the void are not allowed, under penalty of failure and the consequent loss of the dream.

The problems to face when you want to open a pastry shop

Whether in the historic center of Milan or in a small provincial town, inaugurating and managing a confectionery laboratory with an adjoining product sale implies adapting to a series of necessary technical and bureaucratic needs. But together with the legal obligations, there would also be a personal training part to be followed, an adequate budget and the desire to fully commit to quality and communication would be needed. As we have specified above, starting a business is a very serious matter because it involves numerous steps and a considerable investment of money:

  • If you have not followed a school path in life such as hospitality or specific schools (unless you decide to hire a pastry chef), you need to train at the various academies and schools: not only for a matter of technique, but it would help to give greater value to the quality of its products
  • Investigate the chosen territory and identify which type of pastry could be more successful (classic, American, gluten-free, etc.) because it lacks any competition or is far from it
  • Choose the place to open the business and then all the furnishings and above all the machinery and tools useful for the preparation of desserts
  • Carry out all bureaucratic, fiscal and hygiene regulations
  • Promote yourself, dialogue and aim and become a point of reference
Bureaucracy to open a successfull pastry shop

Bureaucracy: the place where the dream risks dying

Every entrepreneurial initiative has its bureaucratic ordeal to carry out, a series of operations that often lead to discourage, at least in our country, potential confectioners determined to open their own laboratory. The procedure necessary for start-up can generally be summarized in the following steps:

  • Communicate the start of the activity to the municipality of residence (using the COM1 or COM2 models based on the square footage of the business)
  • Communicate the same thing to the ASL (D.I.A. – Start of Activity Report) to obtain health suitability and present the documents relating to the equipment that could pollute through their emissions (especially the ovens)
  • Adhere to the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), a series of procedures part of a food self-control program to prevent possible contamination (you will probably need to participate in an inherent training course)
  • Registration in the register of provincial companies (at the CCIAA-Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture) and opening of the INPS position
  • Request for various authorizations at the municipal offices (sign, possible outdoor area occupation, etc.) and adaptation to safety and fire prevention regulations in the case of dependent employees

From the various steps required, it is clear that opening a pastry shop does not differ much at a bureaucratic level from any grocery store. The permits to be requested and the hygienic-sanitary requirements confer the authorization for production and sale, before them it is not possible to start the laboratory: ASL and municipality will carry out their checks.

Machinery and equipment: the fundamental operational arm of the pastry chef

The production of sweets for a commercial establishment makes it essential to purchase and use a series of professional machinery and equipment that are able to respond to adequate quantitative needs. Obviously, a home oven or the utensils that are used every day in domestic kitchens are not enough. We need mixers, ovens, refrigerators, freezers, blast chillers, deep fryers, tools of various kinds, dough sheeters and crushers, large work surfaces: all of a strictly professional level. Not to mention the corollary equipment to the actual production, such as the cash register, the pos, the display cases, the coffee machine if the bar service is also provided, but we are relatively interested in this.

Regardless of location in the area, the skill of the pastry chef, type of sweets and raw materials, the machinery is the element on which the laboratory is based, the first thing to equip yourself with to open a pastry shop, precedes the idea or the recipes. The professional equipment in fact allows you to speed up the preparatory and cooking processes, helps to keep the ingredients in order and “adapts” them to your needs.

The first need that must be obviated concerns the preparation of various types of dough (pastry, pastry, sponge cake, cream puffs, etc.) for which professional laboratory spiral, fork or planetary mixers are used (also ideal for creams ), each of them able to offer a better yield than the other according to the type of preparation: essential for handling large quantities in a short time. Then there should be machines designed for cutting (the same doughs but not only) and crushing (such as chocolate or dried fruit), a food processor for more specific and particular compounds and recipes.

The preparation of the desserts is completed by the ovens: a static or ventilated electric professional model represents the best solution to be taken into consideration before opening a pastry shop for its usability and its functionality from every point of view. Finally, refrigerated cabinets, chillers, blast chillers and freezers are indispensable for the conservation of raw materials, together with refrigerated display cabinets (therefore not strictly linked to the laboratory).

Lastly, the tools of the trade cannot be missing: molds, pans, pastry bags, syringes, wheels, shovels, rolling pins and all the knowledge for the work of up to hand.

Training and budget to open a successfull pastry shop

Between training and budget: 2 aspects to consider when opening a pastry shop

To practice the profession of pastry chef, it is necessary to obtain a qualification that can be achieved in many ways. An advantage can be provided by having attended the hotel school, but what really makes the difference are the specialized training courses offered by professional schools and academies (unfortunately very expensive), by institutions such as Ascom-Confcommercio or Cna (just to name a pair) or finally from learning in the field in a laboratory, after activation of an internship by the Region. These are fundamental paths because they teach how to prepare the product, but also how to present and sell it: a utility that goes beyond the simple but inevitable qualification. Training affects, experience refines: they are among the secrets of the success of an activity of this type.

Along with the technical and notional growth of the individual pastry chef, the economic aspects should not be neglected, specifically the budget: opening a pastry shop means starting a business, therefore it implies investing money (in licenses, structure, courses, rent, equipment, etc.). Every aspect, from the bureaucratic one to the tools, must be seriously planned so as not to find itself closing after a few months due to lack of funds. Or even not being able to even open because every single expense has not been calculated.

Some final advice for future pastry chefs

Throwing yourself into the sweet world of pastry is a dream that many have had as children or that perhaps still hatch from the desks of their office, imagining a creative commitment completely free from rigid schemes. The truth is that, we reiterate it with conscience at the cost of being repetitive, it is a serious matter because it means starting a business (with all the needs and consequences related to it).

Having passion is not enough, you have to feel the vocation and be prepared to sacrifice time and effort to emerge in the sector to work even at night and on holidays without being affected on a motivational level.

Feeling the chosen professional path as your own is the only factor that allows you not to give up in the face of the numerous critical issues to be faced when you want to open a pastry shop. Success comes as a consequence of one’s passion refined by hard work, the decisive ingredients for a quality product.

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