Interviewee: Joe Settepani of Bruno Patisserie, Staten Island, NY
Food Startup Help has reached out to several business owners, chefs, and experts in the food industry to see how they’re adjusting to the changes that coronavirus has imposed on this industry. We have conducted an interview in a Q&A format.
For today Food Startup Help is featuring New York Chef Joe Settepani. In this interview, he explains how his region is beginning to recover from the pandemic quarantine period.
FOOD STARTUP HELP: What food trends had you been seeing in your business pre the COVID–19 virus?
I think the biggest trend that I was noticing was the amount of love and passion that was going into creating beautiful Viennoiserie pastry around the world and to see how people get excited about layers of butter and dough is pretty amazing. I always thought Viennoiserie was one of the most beautiful parts of baking. All the energy you put in to make a beautiful croissant is always worth it at the end!
FOOD STARTUP HELP: What do you predict to see more of in the immediate future? Do you expect that demand to change or shift after the quarantine period and economic slowdown?
I think trends, in general, may have a slip due to the quarantine period just because some businesses only sell a certain item and for a high price. I think that will end for a little bit because people may be looking to get more for their dollar and focus on buying the essentials that they need for themselves.
The other thing that may happen next is that more people have been cooking and baking a lot during quarantine and may end up just making more baked goods themselves.
FOOD STARTUP HELP: Your business remained open during the Covid–19 pandemic. What shifted for your business? Will you keep some of these products or services? What’s going on with plexiglass barriers, masks, etc.
We are very grateful at Brunos that we were able to stay open during all of this, it was not easy, and probably the hardest period I have ever worked in my life. Some of the prepared foods to go products we made earlier on were great because parents and adults needed something to keep not only the kids busy but themselves busy as well.
But now I see more and more families baking everything at home or cooking so it was a good run with those ideas. We offered a pizza kit to go during the quarantine. We may decide to keep the decorate your own cookie for kid’s birthday gifts because those are popular.
In regards to the plexiglass, I ordered to put across the bar area and on top of the bakery showcases. However, this is so much demand for plexiglass that I ordered them about 3 months ago and I am currently still waiting for them to come in.
As for the customers, masks and gloves, and social distancing, we are following all the rules and regulations that the City of New York places into effect during each step of a new phase. Currently, we are in NYC Phase 2 which just allowed outside dining with the social distancing of 6 feet.
Food Startup Help: What do food business owners need to be aware of now and for the next few years? What recommendations do you have for similar businesses in other areas?
The food industry and food business owners need to take the ultimate steps to not only protect their employees as they work together in a kitchen, which let’s all be honest it’s hard to work behind a hotline 6 feet apart.
We have to think of ways to keep each other safe while making amazing meals and pastries so customers can enjoy it.
In the next few years until we have a vaccine I believe the dynamic of a kitchen and the flow of it will change so each employee in that kitchen is not only able to communicate and work well with the one next to them, but also have enough distance between them so that they do not need to worry about anything from a health risk perspective.
The best recommendation I can give is to just be on top of your employees to make sure they are taking every step to make sure everything is safe and sanitary. And also have employees get tested or even do your own employee temp check before anyone enters the building for work.
FOOD STARTUP HELP: Are there other important factors impacting you and your business that you would like to share with our readers?
I think the hardest part is getting a grasp of all the new rules and changes that occur during all the new phases that occur because every time there is a phase change, there is a rule change. That has been the hardest part–just getting ready and compliant for every change.
Executive Pastry Chef Joseph Settepani
Bruno Bakery & Restaurant
1650 Hylan Blvd
646 Forest Ave
Pastry Chef Instructor at I.C.E