Friday, from start to finish, didn't work well at PJP Buttonwood. For starters, we had an insane amount of orders, including 150 tarts due by 10:30 am. Add in a dose of being tired from the #pieandbooze event the previous night and a shot of Homecoming weekend festivities and you have the making of a perfect storm of pie failure.
As a rule, we stock PJP Buttonwood with 12-15 different kinds of pie each day. Because we spent most of the very early morning on Friday working on tarts and breaking into a terror sweat as we approached the 10:30 am deadline for tart pickup, the actual storefront had very little inventory as we opened our doors. And look, that has happened to us before but then we focus for a good solid hour or two on baking for the store and we start a momentum to fill inventory before it gets too busy. But not last Friday. We opened our doors and within minutes, our front was flooded with would-be pie purchasers anxious to buy our pie...and us all without pie. We were baking furiously, but that means nothing to someone who stopped by to buy a 9-inch Chocolate Bourbon Pecan and learns that they are in the oven for at least another 30 minutes.
And the day didn't change much from there. We were two people baking without stopping, often times selling pies that hadn't even gone into the oven quite yet. We also were flooded with new customers and instead of getting the super fun and super cute and super delicious PJP experience, they got a short supply of pie, a really messy kitchen, and us on the verge of a nervous breakdown. BEST. DAY. EVER. Not.
I really didn't answer text messages all day, which completely out of character for me. I didn't have time to look at my phone, much less type out responses while covered in egg yolk and panic. When I finally had a shower and two glasses of wine at 8pm that night, I responded to the texts from Inner Circle people with a variation on "Sorry I didn't respond yet...worst day ever at PJP. So busy and kept running out of pie. Feel so stressed." Each person responded with a variation on "Hey, selling out is great...isn't that what you want?"
And they are right, right? Isn't the goal of a from-scratch bakery to sell out of everything every day? And yet, we consciously decide to bake all day to avoid that one customer walking out the door in disappointment at 5:25 pm because we didn't have a baby blueberry pie left for purchase. It is better to have extra product and sell it for 50% off the next day than to run out of product at 2pm on a beautiful fall Friday afternoon and then bake furiously whilst offering unending apologies. Yes? No? Bueller?
How do we learn to bake more and sell more? Or how do we learn to relax the expectations we place on PJP Buttonwood? Where is the sweet spot of just enough pie for everyone that wants one? Does the information we need for those decisions come from data? Or from intuition? I have no answers.