The Ivy Tech bakery merchandising students know how to bake. That’s a given, according to instructor Patrick McCormick.
When The Bakery at Kelty’s Kafe opens each Wednesday morning at the Coliseum Boulevard campus in Fort Wayne, McCormick helps guide his class to other principles of business success.
McCormick, of Angola, conceded that food service businesses historically have a high failure rate.
“I talk to my students about this,” he said. “You’re really good at what you do from the baking standpoint. If you fail most likely it’s going to be on the business side. That’s why it’s important that we make sure we’re teaching them those business skills, the marketing, the management, the risk management, even human resources. It’s because we want to set them up for success.”
“We have the Kelty’s Kafe, which is named after one of our former deans, Bob Kelty,” McCormick said. “In past semesters on Wednesdays we’ve run it as deli. Starting this semester we’re using our bakery merchandising class to do a bakery, so we’re calling it The Bakery at Kelty’s Kafe.
“In this particular class the real focus is not on the baking. It’s really on the display cases. So we’re teaching students how to merchandise, how to market. Even though they’re doing the baking themselves on Tuesdays, the real focus of the class is the marketing and merchandising.”
The bakery is open from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. each Wednesday through Oct. 11 in Anthony Commons on the Coliseum Campus, 3800 N. Anthony Blvd., Fort Wayne. The bakery is open to students, employees and the public.
“Our specialties so far have been our fresh baked breads and our cinnamon rolls. Those have been our two best sellers,” McCormick said on the second Wednesday of the season. “And then each week we have those items along with cookies, muffins, pies and cakes. This week we’re featuring our fall trio and next week [Sept. 20] we’re featuring homemade quiche.”
The fall trio includes a pumpkin spice roll, a chocolate pecan tart and an apple tart, all on one plate. “So you get three different samplings all for one price,” he said.
The bakery also offers Old Crown coffee.
Each week, a different student serves as the bakery’s manager and determines the specifics of the menu.
“We open at 9 a.m. so we can serve the students before they head off to their 9:30 class. We stay open until 12:30 so we can catch them before they head to the 12:30 afternoon class. And the staff has been very supporting here, coming down to purchase bread and cakes to take home to their family. They’re excited. It’s something new.
“Some campuses that offer this class do not have such a venue. So the class is taught differently. They’re just out doing field trips to local bakeries and things.
“What we’re able to provide our students is actually hands-on experience. We’ve made changes from last week to this week. They’re learning how something looks. So the display case this week probably looks a hundred percent better than it did last week. And that’s what we want. We want it to be a learning process so they can tinker around, experiment, but do it at our expense, not when they’re out on their own or working for somebody.”
The bakery is next-door to the Wrap N Roll, which continues as a separate part of Ivy Tech’s food service program.
The six bakery merchandising students live as far away as Markle, Churubusco and even Milford. “We have around 150 students in the hospitality program,” McCormick said.
McCormick finds value in the commute from Angola. “It’s about a 50-minute drive,” he said. “It gives me time to decompress each morning and again each evening.”
McCormick is in his 21st year with Ivy Tech, his second as Business and Hospitality Administration Department chairman.
“I’m not actually a chef,” McCormick said. “I’ve run hotels and restaurants. I can cook and I can bake. My students are always calling me ‘chef,’ and I say ‘don’t do that.’ I haven’t earned the right to be called a chef.”