After working as an educator for over thirty years, Dea Kreisman was ready to retire. But for Kreisman, retiring was actually the start of an entirely new career when she opened a franchise business—a specialty cake shop called Nothing Bundt Cakes.
Nothing Bundt Cakes spares no decoratve touch.
Kreisman first learned about Nothing Bundt Cakes on a trip to Las Vegas in 2001 to visit her family. As the name suggests, the shop simply sold bundt cakes in nine different flavors, decorated with signature frosting, as well as a few retail items. After one bite of the cake, Kreisman knew this cake was something special.
“It was the moistest, most fabulous cake I had ever tasted. And I’d baked my whole life,” she says. “I just couldn’t believe it.” Nothing Bundt Cakes started as a joint effort from two friends living in Las Vegas. One was known for her cakes, the other for her frosting. They decided to go into business together, merging their talents to create a unique niche in the food industry; bundt cakes. Since they started in 1997, their venture has grown into three corporate locations and ten franchise stores, one of which is Kreisman’s store in Lone Tree, Colorado, which opened in January of 2009.
“I’ve baked since I was probably three,” she says. “I love the baking part, but I had never had any retail experience.” That was one of the reasons why she was attracted to the idea of opening a franchise rather than starting her own store from scratch. “I don’t think I would have done this on my own, if I were to do it again. I really love the support that Corporate has been able to provide me. I love the big picture piece that they were able to provide.”
Bite-sized samples of marble cake
Walking into the store, the aroma of freshly baked cakes and the welcoming décor appeals to all the senses. Nothing Bundt Cake stores are designed with soft pastel colors and flower designs. The theme is warm and nostalgic, bringing guests back to a time when things were simpler. Cake samples in the corner offer a mouth-watering confirmation for any guests debating whether or not to buy a cake. In the middle of the store, three sizes of cakes beckon from the bakery display case: a ten inch cake, an eight inch cake, and a single-serving version called a Bundtlet, which is about the size of a softball. Chances are, anyone entering the store will have a hard time leaving without buying at least one bundt cake.
Although the décor and theme is sweet and welcoming, the cake is what keeps people coming back. The flavor, the moistness and the frosting make such an impression that people simply rave about it. Kreisman says that although bundt cakes were particularly popular in the 1960s and 1970s, they have made a come-back as of late. The fact that the original stores have been in business for twelve years only supports the fact that bundts are back in style.
According to Kreisman, these bundt cakes are the cream of the crop. “We use premium ingredients. We use real butter, and we use real cream cheese for the frosting,” Kreisman says. Their frosting is unique in that Nothing Bundt Cakes have their vanilla supplier send them vanilla made especially for them. The company also has secret procedures for keeping the cakes moist. Kreisman says the moist cakes and the frosting set their product apart. “They certainly are not fat-free,” she says. “But they are kind of a comfort food, really.”
The cakes are typically sold simply frosted in a box, but guests also have the option of purchasing decorated cakes for special occasions. Bundt cakes have a hole in the middle, making them the perfect vehicle for center-piece decorations of silk flowers and satin bows. The special occasion cakes include small cards printed with witty messages such as “Nothing Bundt the Best,” “Hole Lotta Love,” and “Cute as a Bundton.”
"Here, you make sixty quarts of batter and if you're not so precise on how much batter you put in the cake, then you could end up with all different sizes. And then you've got an issue with costs."
At Kreisman’s location, her bakers work from early in the morning until mid afternoon, five days a week. For the holidays, she expects the baking to extend to about 18 hours a day to keep up with orders. She plans to bring on extra help for the holiday season. So far her busiest day was the day before Mother’s Day in 2009—they sold 600 cakes. For the holidays, they expect to have days where they double that number.
An employee wraps a decorated bundt cake
Kreisman’s entrepreneurial spirit has blossomed since investing in the franchise, but she still faces the challenges of running a food business. “Sometimes I end up with too many [employees], and sometimes I think it’s going to be a slow day, and we’re slammed…so I still haven’t figured all that out yet,” she says. Another challenge is preparing the right amount of product for each day. Kreisman doesn’t always know if they have enough frosting, or if they will need more cakes for the day. She uses base par levels, or minimum quantities of product that she always keeps on hand, but some days they are still unexpectedly busy. “It’s a good problem, but I don’t like it. I want people to feel free, when they come here, that they can get what they want.”
The cakes are sold out of a small bakery display case in the front of the store. Kreisman keeps their top sellers on display every day, but they are usually able to offer guests any flavor they want. If a guest requests one of their less popular flavors, Kreisman will ask if they can wait about ten minutes so her team can frost the cake. “A lot of the other stores tell them it’s half an hour, period…We’re trying to be a little more accommodating,” she says.
Kreisman sees a variety of customers at her location, although the nature of the product tends to appeal to more women than men. “I would say generally it’s women aged 30 to 60,” she says. “[But] I have a lot of men who come in and buy cakes, and I have a great deal of corporate exposure. I have a lot of companies buying cake now.” She based her location on local area demographics, but finds that people drive from afar to pick up cakes. “I have people who drive clear from Westminster. I have people who come from Colorado Springs to buy our cakes.”
A brightly decorated bundt cake atop a display pedestal
Transitioning from baking cakes in her home to baking in a commercial kitchen has been a journey for Kreisman. When she first began the process to obtain her own store, she participated in a month-long training with Nothing Bundt Cakes’ corporate headquarters in Las Vegas to learn how to make the cake and frosting. Coming back to Colorado, one of the unexpected challenges was adjusting the recipe to account for the altitude difference.
In general, learning to work in a commercial kitchen environment required some time. “It took me a little while. You know, at [your] house you put in the ingredients and you have a cake,” says Kreisman. “Well, here, you make sixty quarts of the batter, and if you’re not so precise on how much batter you put in the cake, then you could end up with all different sizes. And then you’ve got an issue with costs…so we measure the batter to the absolute hundredth of an ounce. We are really precise.” This precision allows every store to produce the same signature cakes every time they bake a new batch, no matter the altitude.
"My very favorite part, honestly, is when someone comes in and tries a sample of our cake for the first time, and I see the look on their face. I love that."
Nothing Bundt Cake shops each have a large rack oven as well as a floor mixer, but in general they do everything by hand. They use cloth pastry bags to frost each cake individually, a process that takes time to learn. “It looks like it would be easy, and it is not easy, not at all,” she says. “We don’t have a machine that does that. We do everything by hand.”
A Nothing Bundt Cakes decorator frosting a bundt cake
Kreisman has found that her new career is more physically exhausting than she anticipated, and working 70 hour weeks, most people would be. But she loves being at her shop. “My very favorite part, honestly, it’s when someone comes in and tries a sample of our cake for the first time, and I see the look on their face. I love that. I love that part. Because I can relate to that, to the first time I tasted [the cake].”
Kreisman advises people to follow their goals when it comes to their careers. She believes that aspiring business owners must have a plan in place, especially a solid product that will keep people coming back for more. “I believed we had a place for this in the Denver Metro area. I just felt like we needed a little place that people could come and just buy a cake,” she says. “I just knew it was going to be great from day one, and it has been wonderful. It really has.” With a memorable first career under her belt, Kreisman is diligently and joyfully immersed in her second career, owning and managing her own Nothing Bundt Cakes bakery shop. And she couldn’t be happier.