It's rare to find an author who can channel the aspirations of prospective restaurateurs and simultaneously provide a practical guide on how those dreams can be achieved. But that's what Francisco Migoya has done in The Modern Café (Wiley, $65). Think of it as a super-stylish take on those “For Dummies” books, targeted at people who want to break into the upper end of the bakery café segment.
You'll find plenty of recipes for cool food here, categorized by the constituent parts of a bakery café operation: the bakery, the pastry shop and the savory kitchen. It's what you'd expect from Migoya, who was executive pastry chef at Thomas Keller's The French Laundry, Bouchon Bakery and Bouchon Bistro before becoming an assistant professor at the Culinary Institute of America.
But Migoya is aware that cool food is not an end in itself. The object is to make money selling that cool food to somebody else, and it's here where his book stands out. It's focused on profitable bakery café operations from start to finish, combining up-to-the-minute culinary advice with no-nonsense business guidance that extends down to the tiniest details of bakery café operations. RH readers will be thinking “Hey, this guy really gets it” before they are two pages into the book.
Recipes consume 383 pages of this 550-page volume. The food they produce is on-trend or better, looks and tastes great and, best of all, is easy to replicate within the time and equipment constraints that would typically prevail in a bakery café situation.
The book's 41-page beverage chapter gives plenty of tips on how a bakery café owner can further contribute to the bottom line, as does the final section, “The Retail Shelf.” It's here that an operator can generate a healthy revenue stream by stocking it with the many goodies Migoya shows his readers how to create, while also monetizing excess production of many of the items they learned to make elsewhere in the book. There are also plenty of tips on how to manage and merchandise a retail case, all of it segment-specific.
The book's greatest virtue may be the can-do spirit it creates. Migoya will make you want to tackle a project in the bakery café segment, and he will convince you that you will make money if you do. There's so much good information in this book that experienced restaurateurs will think they are missing the boat if they don't give it a try.
This isn't a 100 percent fail-safe guide to the bakery cafe segment. To reach that standard, Migoya would have to tell you how to pick out a site where the concept he is describing would work. He couldn't, of course; be aware you're going to want a location in a relatively affluent part of town if you follow his plan closely. But he's giving you everything else you need to know. The book's $65 price tag seems steep, but trust us: It's a bargain.