Amber Owens has been baking delectable goodies for years, as her husband, Joe, will attest.
He’s her unofficial taste tester.
“I eat the cupcakes and taste the frosting,” he said with a smile.
After purchasing Celebrations Bakery in the Garland District in 2011, the couple are expanding the business to the Valley. This week they opened another bakery in the strip mall at Sullivan Road and Fourth Avenue.
Celebrations Bakery specializes in cakes, cupcakes and cake pops, and dabbles in other desserts, like pumpkin cheesecake, brownies and cookies. Open to the public in both locations, they said about 60 percent of their business is retail with the rest filled by custom cake orders.
Avista, for example, orders cake pops with the company logo.
Joe Owens said his wife has an artistic eye and can create almost any cake and icing concoction she or the customer can imagine.
“She has a rare talent,” Joe Owens said. “People go to school to learn what she’s doing.”
For many cakes, Amber Owens paints with food coloring on fondant to create edible works of art that reflect the passions and personality of each client.
Creations have ranged from a graduation cake featuring a drunken guy passed out on a couch to a zombie wedding cake. Elegantly iced wedding cakes are a major mainstay.
“Old-school ribbon buttercream is making a comeback,” she said, pointing to a picture of a wedding cake with buttercream icing applied in ribbons to look like the lacy ruffles of a wedding dress.
Amber Owens said their custom-order focus also enables them to make gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free or other desserts to meet specific dietary restrictions.
They bake gluten-free goods on Thursdays and Saturdays after sanitizing the equipment to prevent contamination.
“We take it pretty seriously,” Amber Owens said.
It took almost $100,000 to get the Valley store ready, the couple said, noting they installed the same equipment and workflow to match the Garland shop, so the bakery’s eight employees could work at either location with ease.
“We’re both organized control freaks,” Amber Owens said.
Everything is made from scratch, she said, adding that at the end of the day she still goes home to bake for fun and experimentation, with her husband sampling the goods.
“It’s a passion of ours,” she said, describing how her love for baking began in her mother’s kitchen.
“Since I was a child my mom let me have free rein in the kitchen,” Amber Owens said. “She’d write out my recipes.”
That continued into her relationship with Joe. While dating, she’d make him delectable desserts. “He has an insatiable sweet tooth.”
But boredom is why they went into business. “I’d watch TV shows and thought, ‘I can do that,’ ” she said.
While waiting tables she began baking wedding cakes on the side. By the time they bought the bakery in Garland she was creating custom cakes for three to four weddings each week out of her home kitchen.
As general manager at the Davenport Hotel’s Peacock Lounge and Palm Court Grill, Joe Owens applied his restaurant management and business knowledge to support Amber’s creative baking business.
After two years of growth they needed more elbow room. The couple estimates they’ve baked cakes for more than 125 weddings this year, with thousands of desserts sold in the shop each weekend.
“On weekends we sell out,” Joe Owens said. “We’re at capacity at the old shop. We can’t get more efficient or organized. We need another location to even it out.”
The couple live in the Valley so the new location is also close to home, a bonus to their growing family.
Once both locations are sustainable they may consider expanding to Coeur d’Alene but for now want to be an affordably delicious option for customers with imagination.
“We’re price savvy. We’re aggressively priced,” said Joe Owens, adding, “We’re versatile. If we can dream it up we can make it.”