The power of unique
When Son of a Biscuit opened in Portland, Oregon, in June 2014, the restaurant’s owners hoped to accomplish something special — create the allure of a new kind of fast-casual fried chicken and biscuit place that could put Popeye’s to shame. The biscuits would be over-the-top fabulous, and the fried chicken would be the best anyone ever had.
Founded and owned by Micah Camden, Katie Poppe and Matt Lynch, Son of a Biscuit specializes in crispy fried chicken, buttery biscuits and a seasonal selection of sides, including mashed potatoes, coleslaw, potato salad and banana bread pudding. Located in the heart of the bustling SE Division neighborhood, customers enjoy locally sourced items for dine in or take out. A two-piece white meat chicken dinner with side dish and biscuit goes for $10.50. Their biscuits are tall and crispy on the outside like a wonderful popover, bursting with flavor. You can buy four for $5, or one for $1.50.
A few years back, Camden and Poppe created a similar buzz around foodie heaven Portland, only this time related to gourmet donuts, when they opened Blue Star Donuts in 2012. Made from brioche dough, Blue Star donuts come in crazy yet appetizing flavors like Pear Plum Compote or Pistachio White Chocolate Cheesecake. This unique donut concept opened its fourth Portland location on March 18. What makes Blue Star’s donuts so special? Their brioche dough takes 18 hours to make, starting from scratch every day. They begin with certified sustainable bread flour from Shepherds Grain, add cage free eggs from Stiebrs Farms, mix in whole milk from Sunshine Dairy, and fold in European-style butter from Larsen’s Creamery. Priced at $2.75 apiece, the donuts are fried in rice oil.
When acclaimed pastry chef Dominique Ansel created his signature Cronut, the donut-croissant hybrid that sells for $5 apiece, he decided to fry the delicate pastry in grapeseed oil. It’s this type of thought process that often translates into creating a buzz for your unique products throughout a wide swath of your local neighborhood.
What you want to avoid as a retail bakery owner is making price an obstacle after the customer enters your store. According to one study cited by the University of Southern California business school, research suggests that a large segment of consumers does not give much attention to the prices of individual products.
Consumers spend only about 12 seconds between arriving at the site within a store where a frequently purchased product is located and departing. On average, consumers inspected only 1.2 products. Roughly half could specify the price within 5 percent accuracy just seconds after having selected the product.
The following are other recent news developments on the retail bakery scene that shed light on how retailers are striving to carve a special niche for their product lines. Each example points to the importance of uniqueness and how this can translate into higher profitability.
A new pizza rises in Phoenix
Classic Crust Pizza, a new pizzeria in Phoenix, opened for business on Monday, February 2, 2015. Classic Crust Pizza is owned and operated by husband and wife team, Alex and Angie Geiger, newcomers to the Phoenix restaurant market. Michael Johnson serves as executive chef and general manager. Alex and Michael started making pizza in a wood-fired oven mounted to the back of a 1957 Dodge pickup truck, and quickly started looking for a restaurant space to bring their recipes to a bigger market.
"We take the time to make pizza the right way, letting the dough rise slowly giving it a combination of chewiness and crunch that can't be beat. We are serious about our crust," says Classic Crust Pizza owner Alex Geiger. One large classic combo pizza sells for $14.
What’s more is the new restaurant is decorated with hotrod art by artist Max Grundy. The art is a perfect match for the neighborhood, which has a myriad automotive and motorcycle shops nearby. Classic Crust Pizza is embracing the neighborhood, with special nights for classic car and bike enthusiasts.
Swedish classics with a modern twist
As FIKA continues to expand their physical presence throughout New York City, they continue to raise the bar and prove that quality is the core of their business. Master baker and executive pastry chef Robert Tell specializes in traditional Swedish classics with modern twists, creating unique tasting combinations and displays with their chocolates.
“Today marks the first day of Semla season here at FIKA,” a recent Facebook post by FIKA proclaimed. “A sweet cardamom wheat bun, filled with almond paste and delicious whipped cream. Join us and discover one of Sweden's most famous and loved treats! Only sold through February 17 and while supplies last!”
To showcase their skilled Swedish artisans and product line, FIKA opened the doors of their largest space to date in December 2014. The two-story space located at 824 Tenth Avenue serves as a new open bakery, cafe and event space, which will also act as the company's headquarters. The open bakery will allow for an expanded line of breads, cakes, pastries, and new bread and pastry making classes, as well as a full catering kitchen.
Unique products like the Easter special “Sunny Side Up” features a creation of “vanilla marshmallow meets a truffle,” made with creamy milk chocolate and chili salt. This sweet treat sells online for $7 apiece.
FIKA is an American success story born from Swedish tradition and appreciation of quality coffee. FIKA's quality slow-roasted Swedish style coffee, artisanal handcrafted pastries and chocolates resonate with New Yorkers, as the brand has expanded to 13 locations from the Financial District to the Upper West Side, including a Tribeca chocolate factory, a Midtown bakery and a successful online and wholesale business in less than a decade. Everything they sell is made in house and by hand, working with local suppliers and vendors whenever possible. Select FIKA items can also be found at Whole Foods and Dean & Deluca.
Expanding in the Heartland
Other expansions are happening across the country. Titus Bakery, a local favorite of Lebanon, Indiana, residents since 1980, is excited to announce the first-ever expansion with the planned opening of a second location near Westfield, Indiana, across from the entrance to Grand Park. The new bakery will be situated in a new retail center to be named Monon Marketplace. Titus Bakery’s most famous donut, the Pershing, is made from yeast dough that is coiled with cinnamon and finished with maple icing.
“We have been fortunate to become somewhat of a destination for donut aficionados across several counties and look forward to serving our existing customers from Westfield, Carmel, and Noblesville more conveniently,” owner Terry Rake says. “At the same time we hope to instill the same devotion in new patrons by serving the broad array of donuts, pastries, pies, cakes and other baked goods for which we are currently known. As in Lebanon, we will also feature Boar’s Head deli meats and cheeses and sandwiches made with our own hoagie rolls.”
Booming bakery cafes
In the bakery cafe sector, Bruegger's Bagels is ready to roll out its popular new lunch menu to all company-owned locations by the end of March. The menu was tested successfully last year in Cleveland and Burlington, Vermont. In its most far-reaching lunch update in over a decade, Bruegger's Bagels has kept guest favorites and added a carefully crafted selection of innovative new items inspired by the traditions of the New York-style deli.
"Our new lunch menu perfectly aligns us with our place as the purveyor of the authentic New York bagel tradition," says Bruegger's Bagels vice president of marketing Judy Kadylak. "It incorporates the best aspects of a New York-style deli, with classic lunch items like pastrami, egg salad, burgers, hot sandwiches and melts, along with fan favorites that they've loved for years."
New items on Bruegger's Bagels' lunch menu include signature bagel sandwiches such as the Classic Smoked Salmon with Egg Salad, featuring smoked salmon, house-made egg salad, cucumber and arugula on a Pumpernickel bagel, and deli classics such as the B.E.L.T.: Bacon, house-made egg salad, arugula and tomato on ciabatta.
Also rolling out is Bruegger's Bagels' "Behind the Taste" four-part video series celebrating the traditions that make Bruegger's Bagels unique. The series is available now and includes a special in-bakery offer at the end of each video.