.......... real quick.
i heard someone say the other day: $15 for toast?! it was at the farmer's market. the green city market, specifically.
the people who shop at green city earn wayyyyy above median income. for the record, we in the service industry earn below the median income. somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 for a full-time worker. and we work our faces off... dishwashers and line cooks, earning wages, are often pushed to work 12-hour days. (we refuse to do this to our workers, for the record. it's also plainly bad business for other reasons.) managers are often pushed to work 80+ hour weeks.
so when i hear someone say "$15 dollars for toast?!?!", i hesitate even to serve them. i don't really want their money. truly. we just don't need it. there are plenty of customers in the world who understand the economics of that piece of toast. and are willing to pay for it. but let me get into the nitty gritty a bit more... the economics of that piece of toast. because i don't think those people are evil. the people who make comments like that. i think they're just embarrassed because the price is higher than they expected (because they didn't read the menu). and they're way inclined to walk away. and how's that gonna look to this hipster man here?!?! well fuck them and their toast!
first things first: if the vast majority of people are willing to pay $15 for a piece of toast at the farmer's market, then that's the fair price for a piece of toast at the farmer's market. but, just to be a bit more transparent, here are the inputs: all of our bread is naturally leavened. that means we don't buy commercial yeast. instead, we feed a yeast starter every single day. and we feed it with the highest grade grains we can find. from a mill in the driftless area of wisconsin, who mills grains grown by farmers in the midwest and great plains. north dakota and kansas and wisconsin, in name. ... the owner of the mill, gil, is a sweetheart. a true grain dork. and he drives in to sell his product from lone rock, wi, every week.
after delivery, jess stax all the 50 lb. sacks on the dunnage racks. using only her guns! no no. we're anti-gun here. super. using only her hori hori garden knives. yes! the two hori hori garden knives growing out of her shoulders. fucking weapons, them. then, our bakers take gil's flour and add water, starter, and salt to a mixer. and spend hours mixing and folding and shaping. and we let the dough rest, or proof, overnight. the next morning, we bake it off. it's two days of labor for one loaf of bread. now, we can reasonably make roughly 40 loaves in two baker days, given that we also have to shape hundreds of pizza dough balls. and given the size of our cold storage and our oven.
as you can hopefully tell, most of the cost of a loaf of bread is labor. for this particular piece of toast (our hearty-as-fuck rye bread, goat chevre from j2k farms, a crushed egg from mint creek farms, purslane from green acres farm, jostaberries from spence farm, and salt, pepper and olive oil), the ingredients drive a lot of the rest of the price. but those ingredients all have labor costs baked into them too! jody and joe at j2k make the chevre. their goofy, gangly 15-year old son sells it at the market. we mess with him a bit every saturday. he's a hard worker, and committed to helping his family. for now, at least. harry carr and a handful of farm workers help produce the eggs that we buy from harry's daughter raya, who runs sales and events and marketing at mint creek and is also a friend. beth eccles, owner of green acres and fucking legend, works green city market every weds and sat. after setting up the market on wednesdays, she makes deliveries around the city. our prep cook deric rides along most of the time. her daughter, who also works at Cafe Marie Jeanne, does too. marty at spence farm is a true farmer's hero! someone made a rad documentary about him and his farm. with a super cool vimeo trailer. i'm always wowed by vimeo trailers. anyway, he got us these super weird jostaberries. from a farmer in his cooperative. a farmer who also has labor costs!
this says nothing of market day. every friday, jess and pilar and i ready the market all day. then i tend to work the floor or the line until 10 or so. if i'm lucky, i can leave then, but usually i stay until 11 or later, tying up loose ends. my brain is hurried still, so i do trivial computer work until 12a. then i wake up around 330a, to gather the last market items. jess is usually at the brewery before me, baking fresh bread for that market day. we load up and are off by 5. (meanwhile, jess is starting a second bake at the brewery, to prepare for a day and night of service there). we unload and set up at the market by 630. and then we sell our goods until 1p. load the van back up. drive it back to the brewery. process all the "stuff" (extra bread, dirty implements, etc.). pack it all away. and then work the floor or the line until the 11s again. it's about 39 hours of work in two days. for me alone. that says nothing of jess's massive friday and saturday. i reckon nearly 12 hours each day? of brainstorming beautiful toast toppings. and then producing them and packing them efficiently. all while shepherding the bread alive.
it's a massive, labor intensive operation. and we can hardly charge anything for what we make at the brewery. because customers, sadly, won't pay very much for it (the same toasts cost $6-8 at our space). and so, many people like us do this work for very little money. for love, really. ..... but then! green city market! people are there for an experience. and they'll pay lots more to make sure that experience is worth it. and we help give them that. with our beautiful, delicious, locally- and ethically-sourced, calorie-rich toasts. we're proud to make them happy. it makes us happy to see their faces after the first bite.
$15 for toast?! maybe the shock is at how low the price is? because we're delivering all of the above, including the experience, to you. in that little compostable food boat. it's a steal, really.
next time you buy food at a restaurant, consider that the people working to make you meal happen can rarely afford to the live in the same neighborhood as that restaurant. shit, sometimes they can barely afford to live. and many of them most definitely can't afford a broken arm. especially if they have families.
spend less money on electronics. and on day-to-day transportation.
.......... real quick.