Interview with Crave Bakehouse’s Barbara Cook – Lead Owner / Investor and Alyssa the Baker / Part Owner
How did you get started with baking?
Alyssa: Baking has always been one of those things that you just can’t fake your way through – every bite is telling of your attention to detail and love of the symphony of ingredients. As I got older, a change in lifestyle pointed me to baking without the use of grains and sugars but it had to be done right or it wasn’t warranted to be done at all.
Bringing that same philosophy to this style of baking and the help of an entrepreneur such as Barbara is what results in industry-disrupting products created by our dream team in our CB Kitchen Lab.
When did Crave Bakehouse begin and what was it like in the beginning?
Barbara: Alyssa had delivered some of her sugar-free gluten free baked goods that she was baking out of her home. It turned out that the products had taken me by surprise. After much research on if I could disrupt the industry with this sugarfree & gluten free concept, I decided to approach Alyssa to see if she were interested in an investor. It was a difficult decision for her knowing she would need to relinquish all control of the decisions on product offerings, marketing, design, and formulations. Alyssa agreed and Crave Bakehouse opened the doors of its production facility in Eustis in July 2019. We are now known as the Dynamic Duo!
Barbara Cook is always looking for that diamond in the ruff.
It’s what drives me, it’s my passion, my blood. If it’s in the shape of a home to flip or a new concept business to start. As an astute businesswoman who formed several start up companies and also served in the financial service industry for several large corporations saw an opportunity to invest and bring a niche product to an entirely new level. This is me. This is Barbara.
How has the reception been?
From the beginning, this has been so much more than a transaction between a product and a need. Our customers come from all walks of life and all kinds of motivations for seeking us out. We like to thank our customers for entrusting us to bake for them, because that’s where it begins – with their trust that we’re making a product that is different in almost every way yet can still deliver the experience of pure joy with that first bite. We’ve been so incredibly blessed by the support and excitement our customers share with us. None of this would be possible without them!
What are your most popular items?
That’s always a tough one because we’re constantly working on new flavors to delight our customers. But if we had to choose, our longest running favorite so far has been the cinnamon sugar aka churro. There’s something to be said about classic flavors!
What do you think about the current keto trend ? and other trends??
Keto has certainly taken the culture by storm, but it would be unfair to simply call it a trend. The science behind it is turning so many nutritional norms on its head! Further, people’s lives are being completely changed as they take back their health, many of them reversing diseases they’ve suffered with for nearly half their lifetime. We’re proud to make products that are both gluten free and keto friendly.
How has business been since the beginning of the stay at home orders? how has business been effected?
We’ve certainly had to shift gears much like every other business during this time. We’ve seen a tremendous loss of wholesale business and retail business. We’ve had to downsize our space in Mt Dora by offering our product thru a coffee house in the Mt Dora Marketplace versus us having our own retail space but this has given us a little more time back to focus on our shipping and rev up for new opportunities. It has also given us the opportunity to give back to our community with our Adopt a Hospital project. We’re currently donating 5000 donuts to heroic hospital staff.
What are your future plans for Crave?
The key to our growth is continuing to provide a great product with an exceptional Ritz Carlton level of service. This is what ultimately has broadened our reach because our customers recognize the difference and they share their experience with others. This is the best kind of growth that no paid ad can replicate. Crave Bakehouse is a team vision. You recognize what your great at and surround yourself with people who have the strengths that you don’t. That’s exactly what we did, and that is what we do today as a small growing company. The second part of our growth strategy is to build our wholesale and shipping business. We have received our wholesale bakery license which will help us grow our product in other areas. Our products are freezer worthy so as long as we continue first and foremost with our exceptional service our wholesale business should grow us into the grocery chain while keeping a small presence n Mt Dora and Central Florida. Thirdly, our online sales has been a large focus for us especially during the corona virus.