Arts & Entertainment

How sweet it is: Lilac City Bakery opens its doors in GU district

Amber Owens owns the new Lilac City Bakery with her husband Joe. The couple also own Celebrations Sweet Boutique and Casual Friday Donuts. Lilac City Bakery opened Oct. 20. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)
Coconut-toffee-pecan cookies are a specialty at Lilac City Bakery, which features a highly Instagrammable accent wall adorned with vintage bakeware. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)
Cranberry-orange and blueberry scones fill a platter at the new Lilac City Bakery, which opened Oct. 20 in Spokane’s University District. Pictured in back is a stack of coconut-toffee-pecan cookies. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)
The new Lilac City Bakery in Spokane’s University District offers panini, flat breads, sandwiches and salads in three combinations: country-style, Southwestern and Mediterranean, pictured here. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)

Amber Owens built her wall with whisks and wooden spoons, a couple of copper measuring cups and at least one ice cream scoop.

They’re hanging there, along with her other building blocks: muffin tins and loaf pans, rolling pins and Bundt cake molds, and a couple of heart-shaped cake pans.

For the vintage bakeware, she went to Grandma. Mom, too. Antique shops, of course. And friends. Even her own kitchen.

“It was pulled from here, there and everywhere there,” said Owens, who – along with her husband Joe – did much of the design at their new bakery.

Lilac City Bakery opened at the end of October and now serves not only as a coffee shop and cafe for Spokane’s University District but as the new headquarters for its sister business: Celebrations Sweet Boutique.

Celebrations still specializes in cupcakes and special occasion cakes, including wedding cakes. And customers will still be able to order and pick up cakes at the two Celebrations’ locations. But consultations, cake tastings and baking now takes place at the new Lilac City bakeshop, which offers more space and a different ambiance.

“We had outgrown the production space at Celebrations,” Amber Owens said. “We had been looking for a facility that was larger for some time.”

Amber and Joe Owens bought their first bakery business in 2011 in the Garland District, expanding it two years later by opening a location in Spokane Valley. In 2014, they bought the zombie-themed Dawn of the Donut business, swiftly changing its name to Casual Friday Donuts and updating its theme and decor. They opened Lilac City Bakery on Oct. 20 in the space that formerly housed White Box Cafe and Bakery.

White Box closed earlier this year. Amber and Joe Owens took over the space in spring. Renovations took about six months, and the couple did much of the work themselves.

They accented the space with reclaimed wood – window frames, fencing, pallets – along with those antique pans and utensils. The resulting accent wall – with a corner nook and table for two – is highly Instgrammable.

Floors are polished concrete. Light fixtures feature Edison bulbs and duct work is exposed. The ceiling is painted charcoal and built-in nooks line the dining area, where the overall ambiance is modern-meets-rustic chic.

There’s room inside for 42 people, plus another 20 on the enclosed patio. Wifi is free, and there are a few TVs, too.

Espresso’s on the menu. Goodies include scones, muffins, cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, cake pops, cakes, cookies, pies, bars and breads.

Plus, there are three main savory menu options, which are available as salads, flat breads, panini or sandwiches. They are: the Mediterranean, with salami, cucumber, kalamata olives, feta cheese and red onion; the Southwest, with turkey, ham, cheddar, onion, peppers, avocado and salsa; and country-style with bacon, ham, cheddar and ranch dressing.

Look, also, for yogurt parfaits, mini quiches, and eventually beer, wine and mimosas. There are two soups daily: tomato-basil and a rotating variety.

Amber Owens, 30, will likely be on hand. She manages the couple’s bakeries and doughnut shop. Joe Owens, 33, helps out evenings and behind the scenes. His day job is corporate food and beverage director at the Davenport Hotel group, where he’s worked for 14 years.

They’re considering holding classes at the new shop as well as hosting live music occasional evenings. Meantime, Amber Owens said, they’re looking forward to catering to students and people who work nearby as well as continuing to grow their specialty cake business.