Big great bread disaster

By ayr July 11, 2014

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Yesterday we had the 3rd great bread disaster of Clover’s history. Our baker sent us bread that was undercooked and we didn’t catch it early enough. The bread was doughy on the inside and flat, not fluffy as our bread should be. Chris sent a note to all managers, we sifted through the bread pulling the stuff that wasn’t right, compost cans filled up, lines grew. Hopefully we didn’t let too many bad ones get past us before we noticed the problem. The picture above is from a test sandwich I ate with the undercooked bread. We shut locations down early when they ran out of bread. We moved to platters only at some of the restaurants.

Nothing about this was fun. But I’m proud of how our team handled everything. Going forward we’re going to institute a procedure where we test all incoming bread with multiple samples. But the real solution is for us to get our own oven online. We’ve been working at this as hard as we can for over a year and still haven’t gotten Massachusetts to allow it yet, but we’re close.

This kind of situation is really hard to handle. How do you keep customers happy when you don’t have what they want? (a sandwich) How do you make the hard decision to throw away sales and product because it’s not good enough? It’s hard to risk the temptation to just move ahead and hope nobody notices.

This all got me thinking. As we grow in size we’re still going to make mistakes. And some of them will be costly. And talking about those mistakes in some ways will be increasingly radical. Not many small companies talk about their mistakes openly, but do any large companies do this?

If you had a sandwich yesterday (7/11/14) that didn’t live up to your expectations please let us know and we’ll make it up to you.

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