It’s never been easier to start a business out of your house, especially if that business is a bakery. The New York State health department says you can’t cook food at home and sell it over social media, except for “baked goods, jellies, or snack mixes” under the department’s Home Processor Exemption.
The new Sweet Cheeks Cake Bar on Hertel is a perfect example of how this exception can open the door for aspiring bakers. Owner Bianca Gabrielle had been baking cakes and cupcakes for friends when she decided to see if she could turn her home-based business into a proper bakery. An initial cupcake sale out of her house on the East Side ended up being a raging success.
“I had nurses, hospital security and other people buying the cupcakes and then giving me a ton of good reviews,” Bianca says.
After building her brand out of her house, Bianca rented a small space in an office complex on Kensington Avenue for her fledgling Sweet Cheeks Cake Bar. It wasn’t the most convenient location, but thanks to Facebook and Instagram, the bakery didn’t need foot traffic. Actually, the bakery was able to grow despite being open in the middle of COVID-19 and Bianca having to take care of her newborn daughter.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it anymore,” she says “It felt scary and we didn’t know what was going to happen, especially with all of these businesses having to close. But being so busy and selling out the first few weeks took my doubts away, for sure.”
The bakery ended up weathering the storm. In fact, Bianca decided she needed to move out of the office complex, and into her own brick-and-mortar on Hertel Avenue. Even though the bakery is in a new location, it’s still offering the same sweet treats that have driven its success. In addition to all kinds of cupcakes, there are also some unique creations. The candy-coated “crack grapes” are borderline addictive and the “cheesecake salads” just hit different.
Right now, the bakery has fairly limited hours and it sells out regularly. Bianca says she’s looking to expand her team, so she can stay open longer for retail sales and have more product to sell. Expect that to happen as the weather warms up and the days grow longer.
But Sweet Cheeks Cake Bar is more than just a retail operation. Bianca is also passionate about teaching kids how to bake, and twice a week she holds kids’ baking classes with different themes, from Disney movies to upcoming holidays. She also holds boozy, adults-only classes that are perfect for a date night. At the end of the day, the bakery and the classes are all about bringing in new people and creating a little community of customers old and new.
“Being in a different part of the city, it just brings in so many new faces. I think that’s one of the best parts about being on Hertel,” she says. “But we have a lot of returning customers also. They’re happy that we’re back open and in with a new storefront.”
Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Thursday 1 p.m. – 6 p.m., Friday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday 12 p.m. – 4 p.m., Sunday to Wednesday CLOSED
Sweet Cheeks Cake Bar
1685 Hertel Ave Buffalo, NY 14216 • $$$$$
Hi there, Sweet Cheeks. We are Buffalo's one stop dessert foodie shop. We make one of a kind treat creations like our "Crack"candy grapes, cheesecake ...
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