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28 January 2020

“Setting up a pastry shop in a village allows you to be creative, without forgetting where you are, and to experiment by following your tastes”

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For the owner of the Cabo Busto Pastry Shop, located in a tiny Asturian village, happiness is making cakes with his family and in the place where he feels happiest.

Jhonatan González, owner of the Pastelería Cabo Busto

Tired of the pace of life in Gijón, in 2013, Jhonatan González, a speaker at Intersicop 2019, opened the Cabo Busto Pastry Shop in his place of birth, Busto, a tiny village with just 300 inhabitants in the Valdés municipal area, Luarca (Asturias).

Despite working in a secluded place, the young pastry chef is gaining increasing popularity, not only among his customers but also among his fellow professionals. For González, working as a family and in a rural environment is a wonderful experience that only has one small drawback: seasonality.

1.- Why and when did you decide to open a bakery in a small village?​

After living for six years in Gijón, where I was working and studied baking and cooking, I needed a change, to disconnect, to leave the routine life I had and return home with my family. So I left everything and went back to Busto. While deciding what I would devote my time to and rediscovering the tranquillity I was looking for, I was making madeleines, bollinos preñaos (stuffed rolls) and alfiladas (plaited sweet bread) in the oven at home. My uncle, who was a baker, helped me and distributed them to the people in the villages where he was selling bread.

The orders took off, the oven at home did not stop working and my parents' electricity bill kept rising. Although they never said anything and always supported me to keep going, I knew that was not feasible. When the orders began to be cakes and pies, we decided to create the Cabo Busto Pastry Shop, and where better than in the house where my whole family grew up? Thus began a dream that has come true.

2.- What are the advantages and disadvantages for a baker of working in a rural environment with few inhabitants?

The only drawback we find in Cabo Busto is the seasonality. In summer we are overwhelmed due to the huge influx of tourists, this includes services to restaurants and weddings and events. In winter it's time to survive.
However, we have found a positive side to this inconvenience. Thanks to this seasonality, we have the opportunity to continue training and learning, as well as to carry out R&D to offer new products and to be able to do something very important and vital for everyone: readdressing the work-life balance.

3.- What are the keys to being popular and attracting people from other nearby towns?

For me, the fundamental thing is to use a quality product, to offer variety to the customer, from classics to more modern cakes following your own style. To only display in the shop window those products that you are really proud of, and not just think about the till.

4.- Does having a pastry shop in a quiet area force you to adjust your expenses and adapt to the tastes of a very specific clientèle? Or, on the contrary, does it allow you be creative and to experiment?​

Setting up a business in a village allows you to be creative, without forgetting where you are, and to experiment by following your tastes. I think that adapting to the tastes of everyone else is impossible, so I think it is very important that we adapt to our own tastes.

5.- Cabo Busto is a family business. How many people currently make up the team? How do you value the experience of working as a family and in a village?​

There are currently four of us on the team and a fifth is about to start.
Working as a family and in the place where you feel most at home, I can now say is the best possible experience.

6.- With a small workforce. How is production organised, the orders, the schedule…?

By not having a mass throughput of clientèle, we can organise ourselves much better. During the week, stocking up, finishes and decorations; at the weekend, assembly, orders and sales. The production schedules can be set to my liking, without the need to get up early, from 7 am to 3 pm (except on specific dates, summer, festival days, weekends and public holidays).

7.- Does the fact of not being in a big city cause you a problem when it comes to obtaining all the products you need? Do you have to place larger orders or order more in advance?​

Logically, you do not enjoy the convenience of receiving your raw materials right away. You need to be well organised when ordering, although increasingly suppliers are thinking of people who are in the same situation as us and they are making it faster and easier to get them.

8.- In your case, you have your own garden. Does this allow you to always use products that are in season? In addition to the products you grow in the garden, with which suppliers do you collaborate?

The garden is an indulgence. Being able to pick raspberries, strawberries, seasonal or aromatic fruit myself to decorate some confection is very pleasant and makes me enjoy what I do, but we don't have a huge garden. We have different suppliers, but the one I enjoy working with the most is the greengrocer in the village. I love to go to his house, taste the fruit, chat with him and get his advice.

9.- Do factors such as the weather influence the normal operation of the bakery?

Very much so. If the weekend is rainy and you have filled your display cabinets to bursting, say goodbye to your diet because you are going to spend the weekend eating cakes. Hence we recommend ordering before coming to Cabo Busto.

10.- What message would you give to all your colleagues in the business who want to settle in a village but just can't bring themselves to take that step?

My advice is that, if you settle in a village, do it by being very romantic, feeling it with your heart, and let the idea of fattening your wallet be demoted to second or third place. Start small. By that I'm referring to machinery, employees and other expenses. Do not stagnate, be constantly learning, because if people go to your village to buy, you have to offer variety and products that keep them coming back. If you are looking for happiness doing what you like best in the place you feel most at home and with the people you love most, no matter where you go, it will always be your place and you will always find a way to get ahead.