By Danielle Braff
Tracy Watkins, the manager of Cosmic Cookie Bakery in Charlotte, North Carolina, has seen firsthand how bakery cravings shift toward more indulgent at night. The bakery initially kept its doors open late because bakers were already in there working. “We have so many items on our menu, so it takes a long time to get everything done,” Watkins says. The decision indirectly paid off: The bakery is now open until midnight six nights a week, and the majority of its customers come in during the final few hours before closing. These night owls tend to be less concerned about their calorie intake and often order more items than the daytime crowd, Watkins says.
Cosmic Cookie Bakery, which focuses on desserts like cookies, brownies, cakes and cupcakes, doesn’t change its menu at night, but bakeries that offer a larger range of goods can test a handful of heavier or premium options at a time and tweak their menus based on sales.
In addition to offering a memorable atmosphere and the right mix of indulgent treats, bakeries that are considering extending their hours to evenings should pay attention to their surroundings. Neighborhood environments and the bakery’s dynamic with other businesses can determine what will resonate most with consumers.
For instance, Alex Black realized the University of Florida college crowd of Gainesville, Florida, would be prime for a late-night dessert spot—a place where students could stop in on their way to or from parties or dates. “The college crowd is the target mark,” Black says. “I used to go out […] downtown, and we were thinking about doing a late-night food stand, and I had the idea of doing something sweet like fried desserts.” So in 2016, he launched Dank Cakes, a funnel cake eatery open from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. It’s a hit with college students in a neighborhood where few other eateries offer novelty late-night sweets. Funnel cakes are roughly $6 each, and customers can add toppings like refried Oreos and ice cream for an additional cost. “It’s been very successful,” Black says.
With the right customer insights, menu offerings and competitive edge, bakeries can achieve late-night success.
Partner baked goods with premium coffee drinks to boost sales.
Cautious most of the year, consumers cut loose around the holidays, seeking sweets with a sense of luxury. Here’s how to make the most of their impulse to indulge.
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