Michael Forde and Paul Aron opened their fifth Mary Street Bakery at Empire Village, City Beach this month. The former talked to the Western Suburbs Weekly about how the brothers in law have succeeded in small business.
1. How did the idea of a fifth Mary Street Bakery at Empire Village come about?
The time was right. Paul moved into the area four or five months ago and saw the need for something in the area. We think our brand suits a coastal location and we’d been looking for a few years. We’ve always expanded as the opportunities have come up because we need volume to make the model work.
2. Why is the concept so successful?
There’s not many people doing what we do. We’re a ‘grab and go’ spot with sandwiches, salads and donuts, as well as a full service cafe with restaurant-style service you probably don’t get in a lot of cafes. We cater for a lot of demographics; some of our venues are licensed. Our kitchen food and bakery items are good and our venues are funky.
3. What’s been the biggest challenge since starting your first Mary Street Bakery?
The biggest challenge is learning to run a business that goes 24 hours a day. We have a lot of staff and are juggling all those things. We finish baking (at the Highgate store) at 1am or 2am because deliveries to our other cafes start first thing in the morning. We operate 362 days a year, with only three days off.
4. What are your top three tips for small business people who want to expand?
- For us it’s location. Most of our sites are corner sites; we find they’re really good.
- Investing in staff. Have a solid staff base before you expand. We have people who have been around for two, three, four or five years.
- Understand your market. We are one brand expanding into different areas but the product changes slightly depending on the location.
5. What is your local coffee shop?
I have one coffee a day and it’s usually at one of the Mary Street sites. I do occasionally get coffee at Standby Coffee in Mt Lawley.