Monday, March 31, 2014

Going Nuts for Praline Patisserie

 Cruz Caudillo, founder and owner of Praline Patisserie, was always interested in creating amazing food. After eight years as an executive pastry chef in fine dining restaurants, Cruz decided to venture out and start his own business. Using a praline-inspired recipe, he created his first product, a specialty caramel sauce. After perfecting his recipe, he attended his first San Diego farmers’ market in Little Italy and sold out of his 150 jars in only four hours.

Increasing sales and the eventual acquisition of his own commercial kitchen enabled Cruz to produce a variety of different products. The biggest barrier to his growth, however, was the inefficiency of his production. Cruz was labeling and pouring all his sauces into jars by hand, producing only 200 jars of sauce on a good day. After painstakingly filling over 20,000 jars by hand, he finally decided that he needed to invest in creating a more efficient process.

A friend told Cruz about Accion San Diego, and he decided to apply for a small business loan. In less than a week, Cruz was approved for a $7,200 Brewing the American Dream microloan, which he used to buy a piston filler (shown above) and labeler. This small loan allowed Praline Patisserie to go from producing 200 jars of product a day to over 1,500. Even with the increase in inventory, Cruz has had no problem selling out of his popular sauces online, at multiple farmers’ markets around San Diego and local specialty retailers like Whole Foods.

“There are certain clients that I immediately know are going to be successful,” said Nick Miluso, Cruz’s Accion loan officer. “Cruz definitely falls into that category.”

Through Accion’s partnership with Samuel Adams, Cruz was also able to work with the brewer to produce craft brew nuts, made with Samuel Adams seasonal craft beers. These beer candied nuts have been a huge hit and are constantly sold out at markets.

Though already extremely successful, Cruz is determined to keep improving and growing his business. He is constantly trying to come up with the next great product to join his line of delectable caramel sauces, mixer elixirs, fruit confitures and brew nuts. He also gives back to the community, donating $1 per jar sold to the Food For Kids Backpack Program and volunteering at churches and schools.

Praline Patisserie continues to expand nationally and is in search of new markets. Cruz’s long-term plans include getting back to his baking roots and selling pastry items. The future is very bright for Praline Patisserie, as the first full-time employee was just hired to help with production, giving Cruz time to do what he does best—create.

Check out Praline Patisserie online:

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