How much is that cannoli in the window?

(Disclaimer: Although I am serious about my respect of the policies mentioned below, the tone is meant to convey an irrational anger that is well past my personal emotions on the topics. My over the top anger is in the same vein as Andrew Dice Clay’s album, The Day the Laughter Died Part II. So have fun reading this, please.)

There are very few things which truly anger me about a dining experience. I realize mistakes happen in service, so I let a lot of things go when I’m a customer pretty much anywhere.

There are certain policies that I can’t get behind. Right now, the topic that’s fresh on my mind is bakeries, so it’ll come off like I’m picking on one set of businesses, but everyone will have their day, I guess. I know I’m tough on the policies of bakeries, most of it has to do with the model I was taught by the Italian bakeries in Brooklyn. For one thing, a bakery should be open early. What good is a place that sells doughnuts and danishes if you can’t swing by before work for a dozen for the office? Far too many bakeries open far too late in the Albany area. I know, I like to sleep too. You don’t see me opening a bakery.


The bigger policy that angers me is lack of unit pricing.

Here’s a typical interaction I have at the famed and somewhat overrated Villa Italia in Schenectady (I also noticed this at the Galleria 7 fixture “Napoli Bakery”, and I’m sure there are tons of other examples):

Me: “OOOH! Chocolate Mice!!” (or cannoli, or Napoleons, or anything in the damn case) “Those are amazing! How much is one?”

Clerk: “Those go by weight. So we’d have to weigh them.”

And at that point, it ends up being a stalemate. The clerk just stands there and looks at me while I contemplate whether I need to ask them to weigh a pastry for me.

I wouldn’t have walked in the bakery if I didn’t intend on buying something. Why do they have to set the barrier for purchase even higher?

I do have some reasonable excuses for demanding a set price on an item, and some that would even benefit the business! (Prices are hypothetical. And did I mention prices are hypothetical?)

  1. Buying by the unit makes deciphering an order easier. How many people seriously walk into a bakery and ask for 2 pounds of cannoli? People order pastries in whole units. Have you ever seen doughnuts or rolls sold by the pound? Can you imagine if the customer flipped the script? “Um, I’d like 2 pounds of cannoli; how many is that?” Now that, seems like an even more annoying conversation!
  2. If someone has X dollars to spend, they’re more likely to spend more of it or more than it buying by the unit. If I walk into a store knowing a cannoli costs $3.50, I may be inclined to buy 2. If they throw it on the scale and they’re each closer to $5, I probably won’t.
  3. If your variance is that high that setting a unit price will result in loss of profit, maybe you should train your staff better. Really though, how much can the weight of a pastry vary? We stuffed cannoli all the time at my dad’s store. I guess if someone didn’t fill them all the way to the middle, the weight may be 5%, maybe 10% low. If a cannoli costs $3, that’s only 15-30 cents error. Which leads me to…
  4. If you pad your price, the variance is moot. If cost on a cannoli is $1, whether you sell it for $3 or $3.50, don’t you make enough profit either way, using the 30% rule?
  5. A unit price helps a customer determine value. If I want a snack, I want what I want. I’m not grinding through theoretical weights and trying to figure out which is the best for the price. If I want a chocolate mouse that costs $4, I’m not going to decide on a cannoli that costs $3.50. I want the chocolate mouse, even if it does cost more. If you put both on a scale and they come out to the same price, that doesn’t help my decision, it only makes me think your cannoli are overpriced. Furthermore, if I can get a better tasting cannoli that hasn’t been sitting filled sogging up as long at, let’s say, Bella Napoli, for less money, maybe that’ll push my decision to the chocolate mouse even more.

Alright, that’s enough. I know there are bakeries in NYC that play this pastry by the pound bullshit too, some famous even, but they’re in the minority.

C’mon, Italian bakeries. Let’s tighten it up. Pastries are sold by the unit and those generic, dry butter cookies that sometimes have chocolate chips and sometimes have hard jelly between them are sold by the pound. Cold cuts and olives are sold by the pound, not pastries.


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