Over the summer, I was a part-time employee for Bakery Lorraine. This French patisserie located in the heart of San Antonio has captured the attention of locals and tourists alike— and for good reason. The cakes, croissants, and homemade Pop-Tarts are top-notch, while their signature French macarons are among some of the best in the country. Since I was a frequent customer, I thought it would be interesting to learn what it is like working at a bakery.
At the beginning of the summer, I stepped behind the counter and got some real experience with the food, the customers, and the other employees. Maybe because of the free coffee and pastries, maybe not, but I had an amazing time working there. I also learned a few valuable lessons about the bakery-biz that honestly, everyone should know.
1. Bakers Are the Most Hard-Working People... Ever
Completely stocking two full-service locations, several different coffee shops, and a museum café requires a lot of baking. Around the clock, no stopping kinda baking. Yet, they get it done every single day of the week while also experimenting with new flavors and seasonal ingredients. (Peep that birthday cake-sized macaron.)
2. Passionate Owners Are the Key to Success
Owners Jeremy Mandrell and Anne Ng cultivated their love of baking in California's Bay Area. As an employee, I interacted with them both quite often and witnessed their dedication firsthand.
Sure, lots of people don't really care about where they work, but Bakery Lorraine's owners instilled an infectious sense of loyalty into their staff. Working at a bakery became less like a commitment and more like a privilege.
The pure love put into the business carried it from a small farmer's market stand all the way to the helm of San Antonio's premiere baking scene.
3. Local Eateries Are Unique to Their Community
One of the reasons why small businesses in San Antonio have such a cult following is because people want to have something to support and be proud of. When a local restaurant full of great people sells amazing food, it's pretty easy to boast about it.
A small business feels more personal and is more likely to connect with the people than nationwide corporations will. Bakery Lorraine brings the city together in a special way that makes us want to see it grow and get recognized.
4. Roll With the Punches and Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
Working at a bakery forced me to to face the truth—everyone is gonna screw up sometimes. The printers will break, the coffee will run out, and people are going to be upset. No matter what happens, all you can do is smile and work through it.
Dwelling on mishaps will only cause self-doubt and insecurity, both of which you don't want anywhere near the workplace. So I had to suck it up a bit. C'est la vie.
5. Sugar = Happiness
Yeah, the white stuff isn't healthy per se, but sometimes you just need to throw caution to the wind and treat yo' self. There is no such thing as a "bad" food, so just do everything in moderation, mkay? Having a treat or going out for a coffee is one of the easiest ways to brighten up your day. And hey, if you eat one too many macarons (which you will), there's always a way to recover.
There's nowhere else I would have rather had my first job at than Bakery Lorraine. Being a part of one of the country's top bakeries taught me more about the workforce and my own community more than anything else could have. Mistakes and frustrations aside, every day working at a bakery had its unique adventures that I wouldn't trade for all the pastries in the world (okay, that's debateable).