Is This Common? [Moved from Mid-Atlantic board]
I passed a Central Jersey restaurant occasionally mentioned on this board during lunch time that had its bread delivery sitting on its front steps in open brown paper bags. The restaurant parking lot was empty (dinner service only) and it didn't appear that anyone was around. I have no idea how long the bread had been sitting out in the open and also no idea how long it would be before someone would bring the bread indoors. It doesn't take much imagination to consider what could happen to the bread while sitting around outdoors unattended. Is this a common practice?
This is very common in lots of restaurants all over the world. It means the bread is fresh, a good thing. I wouldn't worry about it. Doubtful anyone is going to tamper with it. Most likely they time it so that it will be brought in in a timely manner - bread is baked daily, so it certainly wasn't delivered the day before. Worst thing that could happen is someone would steal it - but since it's still out there - and this is what thousands of restaurants do on a daily basis, I bet this isn't much of an issue.
Common??? not exactly. Bread deliveries are often very early in the morning. More often, the bread companies will have access to a secure location(free of rats and humans) that they have pre-arranged with the restaurant. The front steps is never an inconspicuos place and agreed it's not a great indication of cleanliness. I'm sure a manager or owner would want to know about that. It is something that is, to a certain extent, out of their control. However, they certainly would not want that as a reflection of their restaurant.
I live in Manhattan within a block of about 6 restaurants and a number of markets, and when I walk the dog at 5:30 am, I see bags of bread/bagels/etc. leaned up against most of the places. I'm always amazed that no one seems to steal anything, etc., and fortunately have not seen any critters near same (other than my own critter).
our bakers, like lots of artisan bakers, deliver, or have our bread for pickup, in open-topped paper bags. this is because the bread generally goes into the bag-- off of a cooling rack-- still warm. if you were to put this still-warm bread into a sealed plastic bag or other type of container there will be condensation and your beautiful artisan crust would become mushy, sodden, or rubbery.
note that this is how bread is sold in europe-- in paper bags or open baskets that don't cover the bread all the way. the motivation is to allow airflow, and to keep the quality of the baked goods and the integrity of the artisan crust intact, rather than to put an impermeable petrochemical shell around the loaf. americans with their hangups often are appalled at the "unsanitary" packaging of bread in europe despite the fact that many bakeries over there have operated for upwards of 5 centuries with no casualties reported.
note that baked goods, starting with bread, are legally different than other foodstuffs, such as meat. it is in most cases legal to drive a bakery truck across state lines with intent to sell the bread/cookies/other baked goods. not legal to drive a load of ham sandwiches across state lines with intent to sell. i believe that the penalty for crossing state lines intending to sell a dozen sandwiches is more serious than that of transporting marijuana across state lines with intent to sell (in my area). baked goods are in most cases considered non-potentially hazardous foodstuffs, hence the legal distinction.
to answer your question, yes lots of bakers deliver their product in open paper bags. i don't like the idea of bread sitting on a doorstep waiting for a pooch to pee on it or a squirrel to sample a roll, so one of us picks it up from (inside) the bakery each day.
It is common for bread to be delivered in open paper bags due to moisture control. The timing seems odd to me. In my area (VA), it is common to see bread sitting out in the open outside only when it is an offering to the poor or whatever. It generally is a day old and would be thrown away anyway.