Saturday, March 5, 2016

Opening cakelava, our new Las Vegas Custom Cake Studio!
In late December 2015, we shared photos taken towards the completion of our shop build. While most people were busy celebrating Christmas and New Years with their families, we were hard at work creating new cake flavors, (and gaining the 5 extra pounds from all the tasting!), making display cakes, and getting our business established in Las Vegas. This was all in preparation for our actual "Opening." If you missed our previous posts, or would like to revisit them, here's a quick recap! In Part 1, we hunt for and find the perfect space. Part 2: The build out continues. In Part 3, the kitchen gets installed and our space begins to resemble a shop!

We opened cakelava, our Las Vegas custom cake studio during the week of January 10th, 2016, or, as we more commonly referred to it as, "sometime in Mid-January." The last time we opened cakelava in a new city was in March 2005, almost 11 years earlier, in Hawaii. After a year long hiatus from making cakes, we couldn't wait to open our cake shop in Las Vegas! Unlike many food businesses, we didn't have a Grand Opening or even an official Opening Day. cakelava's actual "Opening Day" became a little joke between Rick and I because we kept getting asked by people when we were opening and we didn't have a definitive date for them. We answered with "when Rick is finished making display cakes" or "when we're done testing flavors". In other words, we would open for business when there was something tangible for customers to see and taste at our shop.

If you are a baker, you know that baking in a dry climate and at higher altitudes is different than baking in say, Hawaii, where we moved from. A place that is hot and humid and higher altitudes are not an issue. It takes a lot of experimenting, and plan to gain at least a few pounds in the process, but don't worry, the stress of opening a business in a new city will likely cause you to lose those few pounds which you just gained. Our new menu for Las Vegas is a combination of our tried and true flavors we offered in Hawaii and a selection of flavors honoring our new home Las Vegas. We are excited about the menu and have had great feedback so far on the new flavors!

"So, how will we know when you're open?" .... We had people ask us if we will have a neon OPEN sign when we Open. We have no neon OPEN sign in front of our shop, or even an "Open" sign. Our doors says "Open by Appointment", so technically, we have the word "Open" in front of our shop. cakelava's new shop opening was more like one day our shades were up, there were display cakes in the window, and we began meeting people at our new studio rather than just talking to them on the phone or by email.  To us, being "Open" was just a formality. As far as we were concerned we were already Open. Our business and creative minds were open, we had started taking cake orders, we were excited and ready, and everything was in place! We had been corresponding over email for a number of months with customers prior to opening our doors, and delivered our first cake order in Las Vegas before we officially Opened.

After "Opening" I was quickly reminded how tough it was to establish a new business in a new city. In Hawaii we were there for 10 years, we were a known business with a reputation, and here we were starting from scratch all over again. With every new inquiry, I had to pull up a map of Las Vegas and see where the heck we would be delivering to - it was all new and there is so much to learn! We had requests to go to California to deliver cakes. It's been over a decade since we had to drive more than an hour and a half for a delivery. We are learning fast here! We've already made our first delivery to the The Strip at night, and for the uninitiated, the traffic can be quite the adventure, though so far, not nearly as bad as delivering a cake to the North Shore during a surfing competition. You haven't experienced fun until you've done that! So far, we are enjoying doing business in Las Vegas. We've met so many kind people, many of whom have taken us under their wing, acting as mentors, and showing us the ins and outs, and the ups and downs of Vegas. We're also learning why Las Vegas is called "The Ninth Island" - we are constantly meeting people who are from Hawaii or have some connection to Hawaii, and we love that!

cakelava, after Opening.
Here is a glimpse at part of the front room of cakelava's Las Vegas custom cake studio. It is completely different from our Hawaii cake studio which was painted green and had wood furniture and a client area that resembled a living room. For our Las Vegas studio, we chose a clean, modern, white, grey and silver palette, mixing metals, wood, stone and glass for a rustic industrial feel. Our client meeting area has white countertops and wood and metal barstools. We chose concrete flooring and an open ceiling with exposed ductwork. The studio feels like a gallery filled with beautiful artwork and it is such a nice place to come to work every day! There are eye-catching cakes displayed in the front window and spotlighted on floating shelves above the client meeting area. We also have framed photos of cakes on the wall and a handpainted sign of our Flavors, which we absolutely adore!
Like every single item in our studio - even something as simple as a chair, or a light, or a clock - Rick and I labored over how to present our new flavors. We were proud of our new flavors, many of which were created specifically for Las Vegas, like our Red Velvet Elvis, "Jackpot!!!" and "The All-Nighter" to name a few. We wanted a sign that was artful and preferably handmade. After spending a good amount of time researching different shops on Etsy for a handpainted sign, we encountered the super wonderful Tessa, who owns ChippyPaintDesigns. We collaborated with her to create a handpainted sign for our flavors, and she created the beauty shown above! The sign fits with our shop decor perfectly! Thank you, Tessa!
The front room of the studio has a lot of light coming in and continues the clean, minimalist look we were going for. We selected a handful of photos of our favorite cakes to display on the wall and Rick designed some gorgeous cakes for our storefront window.

Now that our shop is Open and we've begun meeting with new clients and have some cake deliveries under our belt, we are starting to love working in Las Vegas! A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us in our journey and efforts! We're excited to see what adventures await us and look forward to sharing them with you as they happen! Stay tuned! ...

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