We have just opened a new cafe inside an International School campus. This cafe is designed to provide quality coffee and cakes (and light foods) to parents, staff and senior students. After the first week I am coming to the conclusion that I kind of underestimated the volume of business as well as the dynamics and menu mix of what customers want.

We knew that compared to our other cafes ticket average would be far lower, volume of drinks a lot higher. What I did not expect was just how much volume of coffee we would be doing. The differential between drinks and food is large. I have 3 barista working flat out on a 2 group machine over the busy periods (before school, morning break, lunch break and after school). to cope with coffee demand Even with this manpower we are struggling. Problem is compounded by the fact that we are only managing the cafe and had no imput in the design. It is a lesson for me on several fronts.

Week one was what they call here a "soft" launch... so we have not yet got around to adding the full menu options of sandwiches, salads, soups and Panini! As we traditionally have done our own foods it now looks like this might be difficult. Prepping on site is problematic due to space restrictions. Bringing the food items mentioned in from an external food supplier is not a fit for our ethos of business management... and the GP on the prices expected are not going to fit together and work.

Secondly I think we(I) should have gone for a 3 group machine, instead of a two group. We have a 3 group lever in another cafe doing less volume on the coffee side of the business. Would think, looking at the kg we are putting through, that this new cafe might be putting out the equivalent volume as a 500 room hotel does (here in Jakarta... not in Europe or NZ which would be far higher I am sure). I have in the past over estimated coffee production... first time I have under estimated it.

Anyway, lessons learnt going into week 2 will require some big revisions as well as some smaller, tidier tweaks of existing systems.

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Comment by Alun Evans on October 13, 2009 at 4:28pm
Thanks John...it is all goiod but buggered is perhaps the best descriptive word for how I am feeling!
Comment by John Walker on October 13, 2009 at 3:47am
That's pretty busy anywhere.
I would be happy with a steady 40kg in the tenth week. And food still to come?
Your result is even more impressive on a first week with out the rythum and ebb and flow patterns established. And staff dymanics still in flux too.
I'd be buzzing and crowing. Well done, mate
Comment by Alun Evans on October 12, 2009 at 10:27pm
thanks guys! Yes you are both right, there are problems, and problems... these are of the better variety I guess! 94% of drinks served were milk based- and the majority of them in a very short space each day. Around 40kg week one (on 6 days trade). For here that is pretty busy!
Comment by John Walker on October 11, 2009 at 9:03pm
So how many kilos did you use in the first week Alun?
And what sort of % is milk based?
As Mike says, it's much more fun trying to solve those problems.
Comment by Mike McGinness on October 9, 2009 at 11:52pm
Sweet problem!

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