Winston-Salem has always been a bread-eating, pastry-baking, sugar-craving kind of town. From Moravian sugar cakes and cookies to the defunct Royal Cake Company to Borton’s Buttercreme Bakery longjohns, tigertails and B&G handmade fried pies, the city is accustomed to sweet treats making their way to the streets via family-owned enterprises. That legacy spills over to Greensboro from time to time.

Generally, opening a retail bakery requires less equity than other brick and mortar food businesses and is easier to start. Smaller bakeries can establish themselves with specialty products, value-added activities and developing a loyal following of local customers.

The baked-goods empires of the today are mostly women-owned, homegrown and cater to clientele seeking unique sweets with an edge.  Enter the boutique bakery shop.

Boutique bakery shops

What sets all three apart are the diversified offerings outside of appeasing the Triad’s sweet tooth.

“My shop is not just a storefront for my cake business,” Danielle Kattan of Canvas Cake Studio says. “It’s also a maker space of a different variety.” Along with a full calendar of classes, the studio is available for customers to rent. Not limited to cake decorators or budding bakers, she says, “If someone wants to teach how to make a wreath, hand-lettering, bullet journaling, beading — there are so many talented people in this area.”

The LoFi neighborhood in Greensboro seems to attract an array of independent food-centric businesses dedicated to handcrafted foodstuffs and fostering community.

Sage Mule, owned by Janice and Steven Gingher, is surrounded by Greenway at Fisher Park apartments, Crafted — the Art of Street Food and Preyer Brewing. The bakery and bistro hybrid’s name is a pseudo-portmanteau of Greensboro: Sage, a shade of green paired with Mule, another name for a burro.

The Sage Mule, which will serve breakfast and lunch, will open their doors on Oct. 26. (photo by Nikki Miller-Ka)

“We’re offering a full menu, breakfast and lunch, sandwiches crafted on housemade bread,” Steve says. The outfit plans to serve beer and wine too, after they open on Oct. 26.

John and Lucia Bobby are no strangers to the Twin City culinary community. John was formerly the executive chef at Rooster’s: A Noble Grille and Lucia Bobby is an award-winning pastry chef. Bobby Boy Bakeshop was 16 years in the making. Sharing a space with the Caviste Wine Shop, the pair plan to have “wine dinners, tastings, events. A lot of cool stuff,” John says. The goal is to open on Oct. 22.

Women-owned classics

While these bakeries are not new enterprises, all are women-owned empires with humble beginnings.

“I still put the homemade taste in everything,” says Robin Shoemaker, owner of Kings Classic Bakery. “I’m hands-on. I want to keep the same taste and the goodness they’ve grown to love.”

For the past 18 years she has been providing layer cakes, chocolate eclairs and buns to fans new and old at the Dixie Classic Fair as well as from her home kitchen in King. Wishing to expand and capitalize on the boom of the Winston-Salem market, Shoemaker is ready to take the leap and continue the tradition of handmade cakes.

The neighborhood strongholds

What every one of these independent shops all agree upon is maintaining passion and drive to do what you love. Building a support system, fostering community and taking your business to the next level when the time is right is integral to reaching the next level success. Alex Amoroso and his son, Alex, Jr. are not new to its Gate City fans but a second Cheesecake’s by Alex location slated for Winston-Salem’s Arts District will bring a new face to the old neighborhood. Michelle Spell of Ava’s Cupcakes has recently capitalized upon her appearance and eventual win on the Food Network show, “Cupcake Wars.” With three locations in New Jersey, Clemmons and Winston-Salem, she has nearly a decade of experience with no signs of stopping.

“I believe that a person who is unwilling to quit cannot be stopped,” Spell says. “I tend to have very lofty goals and the courage to reach them.”

Who knows? Maybe the diversity of talent and experience of each business will inspire the next cake-baking, chocolate-tempering, flour-dusted entrepreneur to take a leap of faith and open up shop.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.