Thursday, June 24, 1999
For Rosemary Leonard, the prospect of retirement seemed a mind-dulling, dispiriting option. Yes, she could travel, spend time with the grandchildren, learn to paint. But was that all? For someone who had always been active and out there, tuning into prime-time as a way of life was out of the question. Embarked on a major life overhaul a few years ago, she started to think about cake.
Newly single and with the kids all grown, Leonard was spending some time with her daughter in Long Beach when the idea began taking shape. Formerly a single mom who raised three kids, she had supported the family as a legal secretary, sometimes moonlighting as a waitress on an as-needed basis. Later, she co-partnered with her then-husband, Kelly, in what became Doc Rickett's Lab, the well-known nightclub on Cannery Row. Dissolving the partnership after 12 years in 1994, Leonard was used to working. But what was next?
Almost by accident, she became aware of a highly successful Long Beach bakery, a specialty cake store that was launching itself into the franchise arena. "This was a place that was very popular with the kind of big, professional offices where my daughter worked. You could stop in Creative Cakery and pick up a delicious cake, customized for any kind of occasion, and have your order filled on the spot. Or have it delivered back to the office," remarks Leonard. "My whole life, I'd been behind a desk at the typewriter or computer screen, and I felt ready to try something different."
She was determined to learn more about the business, and it began to seem like a fit. The original Long Beach store was founded by a mother-and-daughter who took a simple idea--refining and perfecting the family's favorite bundt cake recipe--and turned it into a going enterprise. There are now several Creative Cakery bakeshops throughout California that produce a variety of bundt cakes (chocolate, lemon, carrot, French vanilla, poppyseed, banana-butterscotch chip and crumb coffeecake) in sizes ranging from one to 24 portions.
Customers can choose 40 decorating themes from a pictured display that utilizes any number of props--toys, balloons, flowers, candies, ribbons and personalized cards--or come up with their own unique decorating ideas. For large groups requiring a greater number of portions, the cakes are stacked in tiers. "More than just a cake," Leonard points out, "they make a wonderful gift, dessert and centerpiece, all at the same time." The finished creations may then be sent across town or shipped cross-country. The Creative Cakery product line also includes a selection of bar cookies (chocolate peanut butter bars, lemon bars, and mocha, peanut butter, and fudge brownies) and several varieties of quick breads and cookies.
For Leonard, the decision to purchase a franchise was a comfortable one, affording her the opportunity to learn a new business from top to bottom before going solo. After renovating the former Del Monte Pastry Shop and filling it with new equipment, Leonard now has a staff of five, with two full-time bakers and a busy schedule that entails overseeing every aspect of a fulfilling endeavor that she feels has retirement beat any day.
"Getting into this business has made it possible for me to not only spend time with my family--my daughter and daughter-in-law both work here--and see my grandchildren, but do something that I really enjoy. I love it because cakes are for celebration, and it's about dealing with a happy part of life."
25 Soledad Dr., Monte Vista Village, Monterey, 373-8555
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-6pm, Saturday 9am-4pm
Price range: Under $1-32.50