Of course I've been meaning to write for weeks, now. If you've been following at all through social media, we had a rough start opening the day before Fastnacht. There must have been an element of hubris in that decision, because the Furies certainly did deliver some pain as a result. Overall, though, we've been doing well - serving a limited menu with additions as we're able to manage them. Not quickly enough for some folks, for sure, but we do need time to staff up and be confident that what we're producing is up to the high standards that you were accustomed to. Yes, we will be making cakes, and sticks & knots, and cannoli, and bread, etc. etc., but I won't be making them to sell if I'm not convinced they're good enough, or if we can't maintain all of the other items our customers crave. The process will take time and I'm grateful for your patience.
So just as we seem to be getting into a groove, adding staff and adjusting our routines to fill the dreaded 10:30 donut gap and reduce the waiting time for tomato pie, along comes COVID-19 to liven things up. Just what we needed! To be honest, I'd like to say I have been carefully following the developments around the epidemic, but I have actually been so consumed with operating the bakery that I was blindsided by Governor Wolf's recommendation for non-essential businesses to close. In the hours since I heard that news, I've educated myself as much as I could on the subject, and I found that while I was busy sprinkling cinnamon on things, the world has been grappling with what may be the most serious public health crisis in a century. Nobody wants to close their business, not even for a day. Forget about revenue - think about the staff that depend on their jobs, and the loyal customers that can't get what they need.
Knowing how serious this epidemic could turn out to be, and thinking about how crowded our small retail space gets on even the slowest days, it's obvious that we need to change how we deliver our goods to be responsible citizens and help contain the spread of the corona virus. In order to do that, we will be closed today, March 17th 2020 to put measures in place that will allow us to continue to provide your favorite baked treats without contributing to the spread of the virus.
Interestingly, the most practical measures we can put in place involve taking advance or pre-orders by phone, and delivering the products curbside. I say interestingly because managing the phone and getting advance orders right are two of the things we have not been particularly good at since the opening. In fact, there are several customers who have been disappointed after placing advance orders - thinking as we did that this would help assure they would get what they ordered - only to walk away empty-handed because the information was not gathered correctly, or was lost, or their donuts/pizza were used for another order. Every time I or one of my staff has to deliver news like that is like a pint of blood being drained in an instant. Unfortunately, in the chaos of the last couple of weeks, there has been precious little time and zero spare resources to devote to training and developing the right processes to fix the problems for good.
Along comes COVID-19. In the true spirit of enlightened optimism, we are going to take this opportunity to address the issues with the phone that many of you have pointed out. We will also perfect our order taking and align the ordering and delivery processes so that we can take and fill orders without missing a beat. Some folks are going to be disappointed (some not for the first time) by our brief closure, but we can't responsibly continue as we were for reasons related to the epidemic as well as the general failure to manage phone orders effectively. I hope everyone understands that a small sacrifice now will lead to exponentially better service and less risk to our customers and staff in the near future.
Maybe it's just what we needed?