Monthly Archives: June 2015

Food Costs.

In the past, Jeanne has worked on calculating food costs and if she were writing this, she would tell you that it is no picnic.  There is a lot of math involved and a lot of conversions of cups into pounds and ounces into gallons.  I never really understood how she calculated it and if she told me that she needed to shake a chicken leg over the paper and recite a spell before doing the final calculations, I wouldn’t have questioned her at all.

So yesterday in my quest to find the perfect bakery inventory management system (hint: it doesn’t exist), I stumbled upon an application housed in Square that calculates food costs.  Immediately, it met my criteria for liking an app…1) it was pretty, and 2) it does the math automatically.  With just a click I imported our menu from Square and then could choose a pie and start typing in the ingredients.

I was more than a little anxious to get started on the project today.  I gathered up all of our invoices from Springfield Grocer, whipped out an ink pen and my iPhone calculator and immediately realized that it so wasn’t going to be easy.  Because in math, nothing ever is.  Right?

My immediate problem was that our sugar comes in 50 pound bags, so I needed to figure out how many cups were in the bag.  And then I needed to divide the cost of the bag by the cups in the bag.  And then I needed to multiple the cost per cup by the number of cups in German Chocolate to find out the total cost of the sugar in the recipe.  And maybe that sounds easy to you, but that scenario took me about an hour and a fair amount of swearing.

By the end of the day, I had managed to figure out the cost per cup of sugar, flour, and brown sugar.  But trust me when I tell you that it wasn’t fun and I didn’t enjoy it one single bit and I’m only about 81% confident in my results.  So I brought home all of our food invoices and pitched my find to Behind-The-Scenes-Tech-Guru Jason who LIVES FOR THIS CRAP.  He was more than happy to plop it down by me and start working through each ingredient in the German Chocolate pie.

Except it wasn’t easy as he thought it would be (ahem).  We both did pretty good until it came time to work through what a batch of dough yields – 48 nine-inch pies – and the mass quantity it takes to make 48 nine-inch shells, but to only include one shell in the recipe calculation.  And as epic proof that we are yin and yang, I demanded after five minutes that we just call it .32 cents and move on because that sounded reasonable.  He worked a solid 15 minutes longer or so and actually came up with a number based on fact.  I begrudgingly agreed it was good data to have.  This is me resting on invoices while he was calculating (I was actually trying mediation so I wouldn’t yell at him just to let it go and move on, if you want to know the truth of it)…


Once we were finally finished, we were happy to see that our food costs for German Chocolate are right where they should be…under the recommended 30% industry standard.  And it looks like it will be easy to update as prices for eggs, butter, and german chocolate fluctuate.  And then Behind-The-Scenes-Tech-Guru Jason messed around with the app for a while, adding in labor costs and who-knows-what-else because he likes that sort of thing, and I don’t.  Obviously.

So, only 44 more pie recipes to go.  AWESOME…said no one ever.  Except maybe Behind-The-Scenes-Tech-Guru Jason.


So, it is a basic fact that at PJP Buttonwood, we are constantly out of something.  And in our first few months of operation, it was sort of quirky and charming in a Lucy-and-Ethel sort of way.  Except 14 months in, running out of stuff isn’t so cute…it actually makes us really grouchy.  And whether it is baby boxes, eggs, or a simple can of pumpkin, running out and making trips to Hy-Vee or Sam’s just slows us down.  I believe business-types might call it “inefficiency.”

To that end, I spent most of this afternoon researching inventory management systems.  And honestly, it would have been about the same as watching paint dry or having my gel manicure scrapped off with a butter knife, because it turns out that inventory management systems aren’t that interesting.  At all.

I looked at A LOT of management systems.  Some were expensive, some were free, some had really dumb names (there is a system called “Cake Boss” that says it is not affiliated with TLC or the show “Cake Boss”…sounds to me like that company should be named a plaintiff or a defendant in a copyright lawsuit as soon as possible.)

But honestly, in the end, I couldn’t understand how anything I looked at would help us in our day-to-day operations.

For example, lets talk about eggs.  Depending on various factors, I order two or three cases a week from our food broker (and a case contains 15 dozen eggs).  Unless I barcode the cases, or the individual eggs, the inventory system won’t know how many I’ve used and can’t help me with the ordering.  (And I think we can all agree that scanning an egg before we crack it open so the inventory system can count it would never work for us because we lack that sort of patience or conventionality.)

It would probably be easier just to go to the refrigerator, pull the door open, look at the eggs on the shelf and make an ordering decision than to log into a system that tells me I ordered two cases of eggs last week.  Except that is how we do things now…and we always forget something.  Guess who will be buying a few gallons of whole milk in the morning when I get coffee?  Ahem.

So, somewhere between hanging a grocery list on the refrigerator and barcoding every egg, apple, peach, and gooseberry that come through our doors, there has to be a solution.  But I don’t know what it is.  Do you?

Stamp This.

We’ve been looking at ways to streamline certain parts of PJP to make us more efficient and 100% less stabby and irritable when we waste time because we are out of something we use on a regular basis.  And our pie boxes might think this post is about them (pie boxes are so vain), but we’ve already determined that unless someone gifts us $25,000 and a warehouse in the near future, we are stuck ordering several cases of boxes at a time and being generally annoyed when they are backordered on


This post is actually something I haven’t complained about a lot on the blog, but you’ve probably heard us ranting about it in the store…STICKERS.

When we opened our doors 14 months ago, we stickered each pie box with a printed Avery label that had our logo on it and the pie type.  This meant that someone, namely me, had to buy the Avery labels and print the Avery labels and take the Avery labels to the shop and the alphabetize the Avery labels in our organizer folder thing and CAN YOU TELL I DIDN’T LIKE DOING THAT VERY MUCH?  I don’t have anything against Avery labels per se, but I’m just happier when someone does them all and delivers them to me.

A few months in, and after we consistently ran out of Avery labels due to everything I just listed in the previous paragraph, we started working with a local printer to have nicer labels made that incorporated our logo in a 2.5 inch round circle sticker (full color!) and also included the pie type.  Instantly, our boxes looked nicer.  Except the printer is on the other side of town and we would consistently run out at different intervals and never was there any time to drive 15 minutes to pick up a few sheets of one type of pie sticker.

Proving the theory that I’ll generally go with whatever option makes life easier for me, someone who we had done some creative work with over the holidays offered to make us the stickers for less cost AND deliver them to us (or have us fill out a spreadsheet each week of the quantity on hand and then he would print anything under the “par” value…I still laugh out loud when I think about that because on a list of my ten worst qualities, I would include a) spreadsheets, and b) consistency).  Eventually this poor kind soul learned that a last-minute panicked text of “Help!  We need stickers!” was probably more legit and it has worked super well since then.

Our source will provide us with logo stickers for shipping boxes and various other items that we use them for, but we use A LOT OF LOGO STICKERS.  And I don’t know if you’ve been pricing the sticker market lately, but stickers aren’t cheap.  So Jeanne suggested we buy a stamp and we would stamp our logo on the needed items and pie type sticker the rest.

Except I just Googled “logo stamp” and my brain nearly imploded.  When exactly did stamps become such a thing?  I swear that at the root of all this stamping is Pinterest because I can’t figure out when else…or why else…one would be such a stamping enthusiast.  Apparently now everyone just includes stamping as part of their crafting skills and because I lack that skill set, I’m out of the know.

So before you can ask me in the morning, Jeanne, no I did not order the logo stamp.  I couldn’t decide if we needed rubber or self-inking or the x-stamper (whatever that is) or if I should buy it from Amazon or Vistaprint or be fancy and choose Etsy.  And then when I got on Etsy, I saw that you could buy stamps that stamp soap and leather and even if I wanted a regular stamp, I could choose about 12 different sizes and 100 different colors of ink pads.  So I just closed the browser so I could write this blog post and watch an episode of Orange Is The New Black, wherein Piper will make a lot of bad choices…but not about stamps.

So what I’m saying really is…Jeanne, will you order a logo stamp tomorrow?