We have recently moved beyond our Orlando metro realm. A little over a month ago, we began delivering to Tampa. It began as a customer sample request – a potential client calls the bakery and asks us to show them specific products. I go to their location with a whole bunch of fresh-baked artisan bread. They taste and we talk about how the aforementioned tasty bread would work with their menus.

This particular sample request was from a restaurateur in Tampa, about 75 miles past our furthest delivery in that direction. Of course, we want to expand our business, but to make a 200-mile round trip delivery for this guy feasible, we would have to get more customers out there ordering, too.

Somewhat cautiously, we set out to test the waters. I did some research and identified a few hot spots. I then put together some sample bags containing some of our most popular and unique products. Off I went to, hopefully, gain some new customers and spread the word.

I quickly learned that there is not an artisan bakery doing anything remotely close to what we do in the Tampa area. Most of the chefs, even at the upscale places, were using par-baked product that came from Jersey or California (see previous blogs for rants about par-bake).

Needless to say the sell is not terribly hard. So far we’ve got a handful of restaurants ordering and we’re hoping to double it within the month. Look for our stickers on doors or nods in menus next time you’re in the Tampa area for a bite.