Day 86 of 96 – Do you want to have your mind to be blown?

16 Dec

Then read on!

So during my visit to Leipzig I happened upon one of those medieval Christmas Markets you’ve heard so much about. It was about 13:00 and I had not eaten anything since about 17:00 the previous day. Needless to say I was hungry. It was a beautiful day, picture perfect if you will. I was upset that I had decided against bringing my sunglasses (why bother, it’s almost Christmas) but at the same time I was delighted that I needed them (was a beautiful sunny day). I wandered about the different booths, stalls, huts, and yurts searching for the one great meal to fill my tummy. I mean stomach. Gut. Crap factory.

Anyway, I noticed that one of the businesses had quite a large number of people partaking in the eating of the food that was being sold by this business. I had never seen anything like it before. It was bread, with cheese and bacon. Here’s a picture for your eyes.


I was sold. Lots of people were buying and it looked delicious. What more does one need in making a decision of this magnitude? I found a beer, purchased one of the ham-bread-cheese things and it was the greatest day of my life.

The people working at the booth noticed my inability to formulate even the simplest, grammatically correct German sentence and asked me where I was from. Turns out that both of the employees I ended up talking to had spent many months in Canada.

Did you know that out west Taco Bell is called Taco Time? Well neither did I.

Their English being excellent, I spent the next hour getting as much information as I possibly could about these ham-bread-cheese things. I know a winning idea when I see one that’s demonstrably doing better than all the similar ideas that are surrounding it. I could probably write about twenty-five hundred words about this but I’m late as it is. To speed things up I’m going to replace words with pictures and point form.

– the ham-bread-cheese things are made and baked on site
– one employee makes the dough

Making the dough...

– another employee puts everything together (the dough, cheese, ham) and places the assembled merchandise on the tray










– two employees are selling
– one is working the oven

Into the oven

– there are about thirty per tray
– 10% of the ham-bread-cheese things are made meatless
– the meatless ones have an X carved into the top of the bread to distinguish them from the non-meatless ones
– they are cooked in a custom-built wood-burning oven (figure about ten large for each oven)

The oven


– each oven has three separate compartments (coolest at the top, hottest at the bottom)
– each compartment has room for two trays (upper and lower level)


– the trays are cooked from top to bottom
– the tray with the uncooked ham-bread-cheese things are placed in the top and they work their way down and they emerge from the lowest (hottest oven compartment) to be served to the customers
– each tray spends about eight minutes in each compartment (four upper and four lower)
– in the upper position the tops are cooked
– in the lower level the bottoms
– when the tray is moved between levels it is rotated one hundred and eighty degrees – this is to ensure a uniform cooking
– before being devoured by the customers each ham-bread-cheese thing is adorned with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with chives
– by having chambers with different temperature they must be able to cook them faster or something. Does anyone out there know how long it takes to bake bread in a normal oven?

Check it!

– they open at eleven AM
– the close at nine PM
– they only accept cash
– they only sell one product – no drinks, no crepes, no nothing
– there are three ovens
– the eight employees work thirteen hour shifts (from open to close)
– the employer supplies the costumes
– these kids are paid about seven euros per hour
– it cost about ten grand to host the booth for four weeks in the market
– it takes about sixty minutes to assemble and cook one tray
– because these ham-bread-cheese things are only available at the Christmas and Easter markets, there’s a sense of urgency and occasion. If one was able to buy them all year round there would be way less demand
– everyone knows that sandwiches that are made with fresh-baked bread are really delicious but with these things you can see that it came out of the oven not three minutes earlier. This is hard to resist
– and everything is hot and the bread is cooked just right – not to crispy, not too doughy – just right
– on a busy Saturday these guys go for eleven hours, full on, double rainbow
– and they’re only three euros fifty each

Let’s look a the numbers


Item Number Wage Hours Days  Total
Employees 8 7.00 € 13 28 20,384 €
Location rental 10,000 €
Misc 10,000 €
Ingredients 48,510 €
Total 88,894 €


Type of Day
Ovens Units per oven per hour Unit Cost Hours per Day
Days per month
Busy 3 180 3.50 € 11 7 145,530 €
Medium 2 180 3.50 € 11 7 97,020 €
Quiet 1 180 3.50 € 11 14 97,020 €
Total 339,570 €


250,676 €

This dude knows what he’s doing. These are conservative estimates and with a cash business he can probably skim without the man finding out.

I also like that it’s not trivial for someone to copy him. There are dozens of Gluhwein and Wurst and crepe vendors – because they’re relatively easy to set up. But this guy’s enterprise is expensive in money (initial investment in hardware is about a hundred grand I bet) and also time (it takes a while to perfect the whole process and to make a good product that everyone wants). On a busy Saturday he’s got one guy running two ovens with three compartments (two levels each) that’s twelve trays with thirty things each. At three fiddy a pop you’re looking at over twelve hundred euros of merchandise (retail value). He’s also got to stoke the fire and back up the other oven. It’s not rocket science but you need a dependable system or it will fall apart fast.

I watched these guys for an hour on a Thursday afternoon and it would take between five and ten minutes to sell one tray. The guy working the oven told me on a busy Saturday they are full on – it goes non-stop for eleven hours.

Just awesome.

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