Day in the life of
Bakery Shop Owner – Kurt Anderson
I’m the Founder & Owner of Pretty Great Cheesecake, aka Cheesecake Baker Extraordinaire.
My typical day
There isn’t a day that is the same as the next! I might be on a run to get ingredients, propane, and gas. Then, you will find me prepping ingredients and baking in the food truck. Part of my day is spent answering emails from customers and filling out applications to participate in food events.
Our business is 100% run out of a food truck. It’s like I have an office on wheels! There is nobody else like us. Rain, snow, or shine, we are able to bake in the truck year-round. I never dreamed of working for myself.
I went to the University of Wisconsin-Stout for Restaurant Management. After graduation, I discovered it wasn’t the life I wanted. I went back to Stout and studied food science. As a food scientist, I use my background to create unique, ever-evolving and changing cheesecakes with the season. I know what flavors go well together and which ones don’t. It’s all trial and error, but I’ve created some really delicious flavors during the process! I bake 4-inch (½ pound) individually packaged mini cheesecake. Big enough for two, but small enough for one! We use our Facebook page to share where the food truck will be located for people to stop by and get our mini cheesecakes.
Starting your own business is a learning process. No one could have prepared us for this. Some of the biggest challenges we’ve faced were finding the food truck and getting financing. We’ve also faced challenges with figuring out the kinks of the truck and fixing things when they break down. Many people don’t realize everything costs money. From paying a fee to be at events, licensing, permits, maintenance of the truck, the food containers, forks, napkins, bags, our website, to figuring out what payment system to use.
We’ve been learning what flavors sell and what don’t. We’ve also been figuring out what events are best for us because we have a unique product and niche. We’ve also learned flexibility is key. You don’t know what to expect when you attend an event. We don’t know how the weather is going to be, how many people will show up, and if they want a sweet treat.
I enjoy being my own boss, waking up and having my kitchen right in the driveway, and working with my wife. We don’t work together all the time, but when we do it’s fun being a team! It’s been a process to learn how to work together. We’ve learned to play off each other’s strengths and use our unique skills to complement each other and the company. We’re both learning how to run a business – something neither one of us has done before. We are also very lucky to have a supportive group of family and friends around us.
I really love seeing people taking the first bite. At an event we were at a group began eating their banana cheesecake right in front of the truck, they said “Oh my goodness, this is stupid good!”
We are struggling to find good help. It’s hard to trust someone else with a business you’ve built. Nobody will have the passion that we have.
You may not know where to start or the means to get there, but I would encourage anyone to follow their dreams.
Advice to students interested in this career path
A two-year business degree and two-year culinary degree would help you be successful. You will learn about food costs and how to make your business profitable.
Evaluate what makes you happy. If you want to take five vacations a year and work 40 hours a week, this is not for you! But I would say the rewards far outweigh the drawbacks.
The climate you live in will determine how you operate your food truck. Here in Minnesota, we hit the streets hard during the summer months. We’re able to take time off in the winter and travel. But if you live in a warmer climate, you may be working year-round.
Come up with a business plan that works for your personality. I have a restaurant management background but know I really don’t like managing people. I came up with a business plan where I’m the only employee. Labor is also the biggest expense to a business besides overhead (like the cost of the truck and insurance). Depending on what you serve, this won’t be feasible with all food trucks.
Evaluate food costs before deciding on what you want to make. Just because your friends say you make good tacos, doesn’t mean you will make money.
I would suggest coming up with an interview process. Don’t hire someone just because you need them. Hiring the wrong people will cost you money in the long run. You’re better off having nobody than having the wrong person. Also, hiring friends and family might not be the best route to take.