Guest Column: Bob Radcliffe, ‘Cue on Weck, Anyone?”
Note from Peter: It’s been a while since we heard from Bob Racliffe, who has been cranking out Jersey -style tomato pies and artisan breads in rural North Carolina for the past few years, via his Ben Franklin Society and Lynch Creek Farm Bakery programs. We all get lots of good ideas and make our “one of these days” lists, but here is a great example of how Bob grabs hold of an idea and then just brings it to life. No procrastination — he just goes for it! Bottom line: Bob is an inspiration. Here’s his latest adventure:
Choosing products for a startup business is like lighting a campfire on a rainy day. Start with an idea, assemble a few precious resources, get focused, and remain convinced it will catch on! Where do our product ideas come from? Our mind’s eye, or perhaps just out of the blue?
I am writing to share an experience that led me to bake Kummelweck Rolls. Of all the breads I dreamed of making and selling, they were never a consideration! Yet today, my newest product offering! How did this happen, you ask?
OUT OF THE BLUE?
Earlier this summer, I received a call on my smartphone from an area code in Connecticut. My initial reaction was to ignore the call – probably just another aggravating robocall. Deciding to take my chances, for some reason, I answered the phone! To my surprise, it was a gentleman inquiring if this was Lynch Creek Farm Bakery, and could I provide Kummelweck (aka Kimmelweck) Rolls? My mind asked, “Was he aware we are located in North Carolina?” I was thinking he found us on Google Search and dialed without checking.
The caller, Michael Thomas, explained he was from Connecticut, but was planning a family reunion at nearby Lake Gaston, N.C. My gut response to his request was, “No problem,” as I am often heard to say.
Michael’s post to our website explains our conversation best:
My family is originally from western NY and love Roast Beef on Weck. This local delight ranks right up there with Buffalo Wings. We recently had a family reunion in North Carolina and, as a tradition, we have one dinner during the week featuring Roast Beef on Weck. We could not transport the bread because it would have been stale by the day of the dinner. I contacted many bakeries in the NC area and no one had this type of Kaiser Roll. Bob had never heard of Kummelweck Rolls before but was willing to try and make them.
Within two weeks, I had researched Kummelweck Rolls, corresponded with Peter Reinhart for some advice, reconciled several different recipes, did a test bake of a dozen rolls, photographed the product, advertised them in my July Newsletter and Online Bakery, corresponded back with Michael, settled on an order for eight dozen rolls, and agreed he would pick-up at Lynch Creek Farm on July 16 at 3 pm.
Along the way, I decided to market the rolls for ‘Cue on Weck” Sandwiches – that’s Barbecue, not Beef. Whether this catches on and becomes a mainstay product of the Bakery, remains to be seen.
This experience is a case study about an “opportunity” that took on a life of its own. There were several other bakeries with whom Michael spoke that chose to simply say, “No, we don’t make such rolls.” What a missed opportunity!
Michael additionally posted:
Bob did try a few recipes and the final result was amazing! Everyone raved about them – They were better than the rolls we bought back in NY. It was a great dinner thanks in a large part to the rolls Bob made. I hope you get to try them and I know if you do you will be coming back for more.
Ironically, to this day, I have not yet tasted a Kummelweck Roll baked in Buffalo, NY.
–One lesson I would hope to convey for any startup business is to remain mindful of how important it is to recognize that opportunities are not problems. Although they are rarely convenient, once overlooked they are usually lost forever!
–I have learned to trust my gut, as you say, and remain open to see “opportunities” – many of which defy reason and rigorous analysis – and that just come “out of the blue.”
–I have been fortunate to have had many such experiences. My life has been better for each of them, even those that simply “did not work out,” which, by most others, are considered a “failure.” Not me!
–Success is never guaranteed! Always work to improve your probability of success. Don’t take shortcuts. Do your very best at all times.
–But most importantly, remain vigilant for that next unexpected “opportunity.” My latest: a Philly-style soft pretzel. But that’s story for another day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am a transplant from Pennsylvania living on a farm in rural North Carolina. For over twenty years I have worked to transform our property into a destination meeting, dining and event venue under the brand name Lynch Creek Farm, with the maxim: “The Best Kept Secret in Franklin County.”
To do so, I made an unwavering commitment to exploit the marketing advantages and cost savings that computer technology uniquely provides. Prospecting for business opportunities is expensive. I’ve learned to leverage my time and money by making the best of low-cost, computer-based, software tools.
In my next post I’ll share with you my digital marketing plan. Meanwhile, if you’re ever in central North Carolina (Kittrel, on Rocky Ford Rd.), contact me and come by for one of our amazing gatherings. Maybe even some ‘Cue on Weck! firstname.lastname@example.org Or, for more on The Ben Franklin Society: www.lynchcreek.com
Pizza Quest Info
Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.
...and other books by Peter Reinhart, available on Amazon.com