During this pandemic, a lot of folks are turning to their comfort foods.
And in the Cape Coral area, one of the favorites is LadyCakes Bakery.
Located at 2924 Del Prado Blvd., Bess and Jeff Charles have co-owned the bakery since 2014.
“Cupcake and cookie sales are up,” Bess said. “They’re up a lot. I’m glad we extended free delivery, even though we’re working twice as hard.
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“Most people are stress eating. Our bread and butter are wedding and birthday cakes but those are cut off now because of social distancing. But customers want the cupcakes and cookies so they can put them on the counter and snack on them.”
Customers also donated money that Bess and Jeff used to make cupcakes for first responders. “Firefighters and police, anybody we could think of,” Bess said. “There was such an outpouring of support that we had to stop. Once we catch up with the donations, we’ll start it back up.”
Here are a few things to know about LadyCakes:
How did the business start?: Beginning in 2006, Bess made cakes from home while Jeff was a restaurant manager.
“A great customer said way back in the beginning that I needed to open a bakery,” Bess said. “I kind of shrugged it off, although that was my idea.”
After eight years, Bess felt overwhelmed as she tried to take care of her family while running her business from home.
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“It was around midnight and I had two small children running around, I hadn’t eaten and (Jeff) comes in the door and says, ‘Did you make dinner?’” she recalled. “I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore. We have to do something. We have to have a separation. I think we need to open up a shop.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Let’s do it.’ He quit his job and we took everything we had and poured it into the bakery. It was the scariest thing.”
Within 6-8 months, Bess said the bakery started to make a profit thanks to a big break.
What was the big break?: In 2014, the same year Bess and Jeff opened, Chris and Lisa Ketcham closed Mason’s Bakery after 59 years.
“I reached out to him, being the newbie,” Bess said. “I said, ‘Is there anything I can help in your transition or whatever you can pass on in advice would be helpful.’ He said, ‘Actually, this is wonderful. I’m going to send you all my wedding contracts.’ There were different resorts in the community that were looking for wedding cakes.
“That catapulted us.”
Within two years, Lady Cakes had gone to making 2,000 wedding cakes and 1,000 birthday cakes. In 2019, Bess and Jeff and their team of Deana (3D sculpting), Deb (buttercream frosting) and Danielle (“a little bit of everything”) did 3,500 wedding cakes.
“I have no idea on (birthday cakes),” Bess said. “I kind of lost track. That’s a good thing, right?”
What kind of cakes do they make?: The Food Network has a show called “Ace of Cakes” featuring Duff Goldman. Bess said their business is similar.
“We have had pretty funny and interesting requests,” Bess said. “We’ve done some pretty elaborate, show-stopping, amazingly huge cakes.”
The biggest was a nine-tier cake that included 200 sugar flowers and fed more than 650 people.
“That was the first time I had to deliver it in more than two pieces,” Bess said. “The bottom section was well over 100 pounds.”
Bess said other cakes have replicated “Little Shop of Horrors,” a hearse, planes, helicopters and dinosaurs.
What’s the favorite flavor?: Whether it’s cakes or cupcakes, Bess said it’s salted caramel pretzel. “We created that before we opened,” Bess said. “It was by accident.”
Other favorites are caramel mocha, raspberry and lemon.
Favorite cookies include chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, M&Ms and peanut butter.
“His grandmother’s recipe and my grandmother’s were almost identical,” Bess said.
What are the future plans?: Bess said many business consultants and business owners have suggested she and Jeff should franchise LadyCakes.
“We don’t want to grow that way,” she said. “We want to grow within the community. We feel Cape Coral and Southwest Florida made us who we are. We’d like to branch out in Southwest Florida.”
And she’s an author: Bess wrote a children’s book she published in November 2019 called “The Adventures of LadyCakes: Kindness is Sweet.”
“The main character, Rosie, is loosely based on me as a child and the love that I had baking with my mom,” Bess said.
It is available on Amazon. Go to iloveladycakes.com for details.
If you go
Where: 2924 Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday
Ordering?: A list of available goodies can be found on LadyCakes’ FaceBook page and website every day. Pick up or delivery available. Free delivery in Cape Coral. Call 549-2253.
Online: iloveladycakes.com or find them on FaceBook
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