Chris and Nicole Pionke have figured out how to make a good thing even better. They’ve taken delicious treats like Oreo cookies, gingerbread and red velvet cake, mixed them with frosting, dipped them in chocolate, and voilà, they’ve got cakepops!
Cakepops with sprinkles, cakepops with peanut butter, cakepops with pineapple…some 400 a day are moving through Cakepop Couture in the Prescott Gateway Mall.
The cake shop opened Sept. 1 as a result of Nicole’s dream to “bake her heart out” and Chris’s dream to share his wife’s baked goods with the world.
“We absolutely love what we’re doing,” said Chris. “Nicole is very much the back-of-the-house person. She’s in her zone baking in the kitchen. And I’m very much the front-of-the-house person. I love to interact with people.”
As the aroma of fresh baked cake wafts through the mall, Cakepop Couture has been luring in shoppers and steadily building repeat business with places like the Residence Inn Prescott where cakepops greet guests when they check into their rooms on holidays.
“When a hotel surprises guests with a special treat, it sends the message that the hotel really cares about making that experience special,” said Chris. “It makes you feel like you’re home.”
The Pionkes say they help people celebrate the most important occasions of their lives: births, weddings and anniversaries. While brides and grooms still want to have the wedding cake that they can ceremoniously cut as a couple, the growing trend is to have cakepops for their guests. Right now they are busy taking orders for holiday parties.
“With cupcakes or cake, you can have crumbs everywhere, but with cakepops the frosting really holds the cake together. A lot of people will say, ‘My cake’s not cooked through.’ But the cakepop is just super moist because of the amount of frosting used. It’s very hard for it to fall apart while they’re eating it.”
Long before Chris and Nicole considered opening a Prescott cake shop, Nicole got her hands in the batter business early on as her grandmother made wedding cakes. For Chris, it was love at first bite. “Nicole makes cakes with such love and finesse.”
The two began a catering cake business in 2010 out of Nicole’s parents’ kitchen in Chino Hills, Calif. “The first week in business we booked two weddings,” said Chris. “Both had a wedding cake, but the presentation was more centered on individual cupcakes than the cake.”
The two moved to Prescott in April and knew they had made a sweet decision when they signed their lease with the Prescott Gateway Mall.
During the holiday season, instead of visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, the Pionkes have images of cakepops jumping off the counters.
“We expect business to really take off starting on Black Friday,” said Chris.
To help launch the cakepop craze, Cakepop Couture is offering $5 off any orders of $25 or more from Nov. 29 through Dec. 6. Individual cakepops are $1.50 each. Discounts also are available for orders of five dozen or more. Special holiday flavors include peppermint, eggnog and fruit cake (think of a very moist pineapple-upside-down cake).
After the Prescott Gateway Mall store is up and running, the Pionkes hope to open another cakepop store in downtown Prescott. QCBN
Written by Bonnie Stevens