Menu Expansion Checklist

Before growing your bakery into a restaurant, make sure you have the following elements in place:

1. The Right Tools

What you’ll need depends on the menu, according to bakery consultant Brian Wood. "You can get a sandwich prep table for a couple thousand dollars, which will greatly add to the efficiency of a sandwich program," Wood says. "To serve fried chicken, you’ll need a fryer."

2. Appropriate Cutlery

"You’ve got to get plates, flatware—the whole deal," says Naomi Preston, owner of Wild West Eatery & Cantina in Eagle, Idaho. The exact number of knives, plates and more will vary depending on each establishment.

3. Sourcing Options

Work with suppliers to secure extra inventory necessary for expanded day parts, especially if the bakery will need vastly different ingredients than what it uses for baked goods.

4. Market Knowledge

To accurately price menu items, check out what other local restaurants are charging for similar dishes. "You have to look at food costs and the competition," Preston says. "What are things going for in your town?"

5. A Serving Plan

Will the bakery make items to order or prepare them ahead of time? To maintain its focus on baked goods, Alliance Bakery in Chicago doesn’t customize its lunch fare. “We have to prepare almost like you would in a grab-and-go deli situation,” says owner Peter Rios.

6. Health and Safety Protocols

Bakeries should check their local legislation to confirm whether they’ll need to adopt new operations or equipment. Alliance didn’t need additional processes or inspections to start serving sandwiches. "Doing a lot of desserts, we were already working with egg yolks and cheeses," Rios says. "They’re held to the same standards as meat."

7. Ready-to-Go Attitude

Meal programs can take time to turn a profit, or they can be an instant hit. "Lunch started popping off really quickly because regulars were coming and found they could now stay for lunch," says Head Baker Courtney Cleaver at North Bakery in Providence, Rhode Island. Monitoring sales and being able to shift offerings accordingly will help minimize unnecessary costs.