By LANCE ARMSTRONG, Valley Community Newspapers writer
Among the longtime businesses of Carmichael is Cake Castle, a business that has been in operation since 1969.
The business is known for offering a wide range of cake-making products from cake pans and tools such as spatulas, tips and bags to cake filling and frosting. Candy-making supplies such as chocolate, candy sticks, molds and packaging are also available.
Furthermore, Cake Castle’s south Sacramento location offers similar items, as well as a bakery, where the public can purchase fresh cakes, pastries and other sweets.
However, Cake Castle bakery items can be ordered through the Carmichael store, which is located at 7907 Fair Oaks Blvd., between California and San Juan avenues.
The business’s large size and plentiful inventory is evident through the many Cake Castle customers who commute long distances to make purchases at either the Carmichael store or the south Sacramento store.
Recipe for survival
While most other businesses that were established during the era that Cake Castle was founded are no longer in operation today, the business has managed to survive through a recipe of offering many consistent and quality products and placing an emphasis on first-class customer service.
Cake Castle did not originally include a bakery, as it was instead founded solely as a cake decorating supply store. The store’s original owner was Betty May.
A year later, May sold the supply store to Jeanette “Jeri” Upchurch, who opened the Cake Castle bakery in about 1971.
The cake decorating supply store was originally located at 4020A California Ave. and the bakery was first opened only a storefront away in the same building.
Sometime in the early 1970s, a second Cake Castle supply store was opened at Lemon Hill and 47th avenues, near Sacramento Memorial Lawn and Home of Peace cemeteries. This store was also owned by Upchurch.
Although she had no idea at the time, Upchurch hired one of the business’s most important employees, current Cake Castle co-owner Barbara Ogg, to work the counter in her supply store in 1974.
Two years later, Barbara was in negotiations to purchase the Lemon Hill store, which was instead purchased by Judy Lynn Mason.
The Cake Box
Barbara continued to work at the Lemon Hill store under Mason’s ownership for about three months. But her desire to operate her own business led to her establishment of a bakery known as The Cake Box at 6452 Stockton Blvd.
This short-lived business served as a sort of additional training ground for Barbara’s later ownership of Cake Castle.
Barbara said that her interest in the retail bakery and supplies industry began through Southgate Recreation and Park District-sponsored cake decorating classes that she took in about 1973 from an instructor, who Barbara remembers only as Billie.
In about 1977, Phyllis Lawson, who was serving as Cake Castle bakery’s manager, purchased the bakery from Upchurch.
Barbara and her husband Ron became the new owners of Cake Castle bakery on Dec. 1, 1979. The supply store was sold to Donna Graham a year later.
After the Oggs’ business acquisition, Barbara was still the proprietor of The Cake Box. She maintained ownership of The Cake Box until 1982, at which time she decided to merge her businesses.
It was also at this time that Cake Castle began its longtime operation at 7601C Stockton Blvd.
Cake Castle’s then-separately-owned bakery and supply stores on California Avenue relocated to 6241 Fair Oaks Blvd. in 1983.
With Graham’s liquidation of her supply store in 1989, Barbara and Ron added cake decorating supplies to their bakery on Fair Oaks Blvd.
Cake Castle’s Carmichael store returned to its original area in about 2000, when it was relocated to its current 7907 Fair Oaks Blvd. site.
The business’s other current store has been located at 5601 66th Ave., Unit C since about 2001.
At the time that the Oggs began their ownership of Cake Castle, the business had about 12 employees, including Nancy Breaks, Carol Heiser and Doris Miller.
In the black
Barbara said that one of her most exciting times during her ownership of Cake Castle was the moment when the business was no longer in the red.
“What was really exciting was when we had paid all the bills and our profit was a dollar,” Barbara said. “I mean, that was a long time coming. We paid everything. All of our rent was paid, our electricity and everything, so we were not in the hole, so to speak. It took probably a couple of years (to reach that financial accomplishment).”
Julie (Ogg) Wong, who manages the south Sacramento store, said that the industry has changed since her family began operating Cake Castle. And as a result, she added that the business has adapted with these changes.
“The pricing of cakes were a lot less back then (in the early years of the Oggs’ ownership of Cake Castle),” Julie said. “And the way that (cakes) are decorated, for instance, like (for) weddings (is different). Back then it was just butter cream. You may have had just a few different designs, more of the traditional look, whereas today you have a lot more of the TV shows – ‘Cake Boss,’ ‘Ace of Cakes.’ They want all of the fondant work, the rolled fondant.”
As a family business, Julie’s father Ron and her brother, Brian, also play important roles working at Cake Castle’s Carmichael store.
A third generation of the family, Julie’s daughter Makaela Mendler, also works for the company.
Barbara has come full circle in her business life, considering that her career began through cake decorating classes and she now teaches cake decorating classes with Julie at the south Sacramento store.
Cake decorating classes are also taught at the Carmichael store by Cathy Bianchi.
Both Cake Castle locations are open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For additional information regarding Cake Castle’s offerings, including its cake decorating classes, call (916) 944-5055 (Carmichael store) or (916) 394-4040 (south Sacramento store) or visit the Web site www.cakecastlebakery.com.