What do you think of serving pasta in a gourmet coffee bar?


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Apr 24, 2006
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We think coffee and sweet pastries are not enough for our future clients.
Sandwiches - complicated. No soups, please. We think pasta is easy to prepare and many like it! We think that pasta should be high-end and just three choices of it and ordered from a shop that makes handmade pasta.
Any cons and pro, please!
Serge and Helena - future owners of a gourmet coffee bar in Toronto.
It sounds good to me - but how is handmade pasta less complicated than sandwiches? I am planning to have sandwiches and salads in my coffeeshop - no one else in our small town offers them.....so what 3 kinds of pasta do you plan to offer and how many ingredients will you need? Anything that is simple and different from your competition should do well if that is what your market demands....
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Thanks for reply! We think that sandwiches need more ingredients that can go from fresh to not so fresh very fast. On the other hand we can buy already premade pasta, say gnochi with chicken, tortellini with shpinach and cheese and like , get some sauce and serve it on a plate. Everything is ready to serve in several minutes and if there is no demand just leave it for next day.
are you going to be boiling the pasta? if so, you need a stove. if you need a stove you need an exhaust and ventilation system, which means you have to invest in a hood, most likely. this is all very expensive. plus, where are you going to buy the premade pasta? didn't you just say you were going to handmake it? i am confused. i think people will know if your stuff is premade... depending on where you buy it. i think it's a great idea, but you should do it yourself, and make homemade sauces to go along with it. good luck!

I am sorry to be negative, but I feel that a line may be crossed here - the line between being a coffeehouse and being a restaurant. The smell of marinara and garlic may be welcome at The Olive Garden, but it could compete unpleasantly with coffee aromas in your shop. I admire your creativity but I question the wisdom of getting into real "dinners" with your store. Many shops offer light fare like sandwiches and salad more as a service to their customer base, who like one-stop shopping, but their real cash flow is from the beverages, not food items. There are exceptions to this, but the shops that sell less food often have higher profit margins because they are focused on the coffee and espresso drinks. Just my humble opinion; also I have been turned off by coffee shops in my area that have "turned restaurant" and slowly lost the skill of making good drinks once the focus shifted. Maybe you can maintain the delicate balance, but don't expect everyone to be pleased at this new offering.
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OK, OK - we agree - no pasta! By the way, we are not open yet - we are just getting ready and asking for opinions/suggestions. It is easy to post a negative reply, but we are actually would like to get some ideas. We agree that serving just specialty coffee is a holy grail but let us be realistic - there is not so many of these coffee bars around. People come with different expectations and some of them would like to have a bite. So what is the answer? Just sandwiches or maybe crepes or something else?
Ideas welcome!
I think you need something more than just coffee and espresso....of course my market is different from yours...I think the other posters gave you good advice - the stove, vent, etc. is one reason I am not cooking - sandwiches I can do fairly quickly and simply without cooking. I plan to make my salads ahead in the a.m. before I open......I have a local baker for my cakes and pastries.

Another reaon is the fact that I do not want to become a restaurant - keep focused - there is no way to be all things to all people and do it well.

I hope you come up with a plan that works for you....I know it consumes you - we hope to be open in JUne and it is all I think about.

Stick with the Italian method of Panini. We make ours up in the morning, we make a variety of sandwich's and wraps, use a quality bread or bun. Wrap them up & what you do not sell can be carried to the next day. Keep you Panini grill on all day and when you get an order you grill you wrap or sandwich for 3 to 5 minutes and serve. Morning prep takes a little time but the rest doesn't
i don't know sandwich does not sound to nice either
sweets from muffins to croissants always do a nice job in my opinion as a customer and for those who prefer salty
butter brezels come to my mind instantly
they are like heaven warm, aren't all to unhealthy, can be got by a bakery, are done in seconds and last but not least have little smell which does not compete with the smell of coffee
I don't think that serving pasta is a good idea, think about the smell when preparing the pasta. think about the mood when you enter a coffee shop, you dont want it to smell like restaurant. I don't think that serving sandwiches will be that much hard, actually they are more preferable, and did you think of serving hotdogs? I think it is a nice idea to serve hotdog.

I don't think that serving pasta is a good idea, think about the smell when preparing the pasta. think about the mood when you enter a coffee shop, you dont want it to smell like restaurant. I don't think that serving sandwiches will be that much hard, actually they are more preferable, and did you think of serving hotdogs? I think it is a nice idea to serve hotdog.

food and coffee are a perfect combination and you should not worry about any loss of identity, ambiance or competing aromas when considering the addition of food items (imo).

and pasta is just as good a choice as anything else although i'm not convinced it's necessarily that much easier to prepare when compared to other options. further, there is an enormous amount of cooked items you can offer without the need of a commercial hood, or any hood for that matter.

i would recommend that you first find which food distributors operate in your area (sysco, united, continental, etc.) - check into both national distributors and small, local distributors. once you have identified a few, contact them and set up a meeting with their salesperson. national food distributors carry extensive lines of quality, heat-and-serve products including lines which are organic and/or presevative-free. the prepared food business has changed radically in the last 5-10 years and there are many absolutely fantastic products available.

as far as equipment is concerned, i would highly recommend a flashbake oven (assuming you don't have a commercial kitchen and/or don't want to hassle with one). the flashbakes are fantastic and can cook pizzas in less than 5 minutes. what you can prepare with these flasbakes, in less time than with a microwave, is limited only by your imagination. not only do they cook quicker than microwaves, but they also brown like an oven. hobart, amana and vulcan make the best units - no hood required.

other commercial cooking equipment that i can highly recommend which don't require hoods include highly efficient induction ranges (can't recommend these enough!) and air-fryers which cook "deep-fried" items with air.

i offer a full menu (lunch and dinner) as well as roast my own coffee - customers attracted by the smell of fresh roasted coffee come in to purchase coffee by the pound and/or espresso drinks only to also discover a full menu. consequently, more than often, they decide to stay and eat or return for a meal. those that come in for a meal can't help but be allured by the fresh coffee and end up purchasing a pound or finishing their meals with a specialty coffee drink. it works out beautifully!

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