PHOTO: Nikki Hughes stirs a large batch of chocolate cupcake batter for a fresh round of cupcakes. As co-owner of Baked., Hughes said business has been great. (Photos by Kim Brooks)
PHOTO: Co-owner of Baked., Kellie McDermott, portions chocolate cupcake batter into the cupcake holders. The gals make between 120 and 200 dozen cupcakes a week.
By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
Four months after opening day, the owners of Baked. are pleased with their business success.
Nikki Hughes and Kellie McDermott opened Baked. Cupcake Bakery & Café on Jan. 10. Friends since they were in school together, the two said co-owning a bakery and restaurant is working to their advantage.
Wanting to make career changes in their lives or go back to school, both Hughes and McDermott said they sat down together and came up with the idea to open a cupcake shop. Both worked in the food and restaurant industry growing up.
With an idea in mind, they hit larger cities in the Tri-State area, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Chicago, to tour bakeries and cupcake shops to get some ideas.
“We would take pictures of what we liked,” said McDermott of their cupcake tours.
In wanting to open up a place of their own in Monticello, their hometown, McDermott said they drove around town, looking for empty storefronts. When the idea to open at the intersection of Main Street and First Street came about, the location appealed to them. The building is owned by Chris Tuetken. Hughes and McDermott said Tuetken had a lot of the remodel work done himself, with the help of the Baked. family.
“The work and plans took a lot longer than we thought,” said McDermott. She said doing the work themselves and other family events put plans on hold.
“We just wanted to be ready,” said Hughes. “We wanted to get all of our ducks in a row.”
The cosmetic and reconstruction work included a new ceiling, remodeling to turn office space into a fully functional kitchen, new flooring, new plumbing and installation of appliances. The tables and chairs came from a variety of places including Welter Storage Equipment and auctions.
When deciding on their extensive cupcake menu, Hughes said they knew their business had to offer more than just cupcakes to be viable. So, they decided to serve a wide variety of sandwiches and paninis. With names like “Sally,” “Hank” and “Suzy,” Hughes said the two sat down together and just came up with random names for their sandwiches.
“Everyone asks who our sandwiches are named after and we don’t have a funny story to tell them,” laughed Hughes. “We wanted fun, different types of sandwiches.”
Hughes and McDermott said they went through several different menu drafts before they realized they needed to make some decisions.
It wasn’t long until the owners realized they needed more staff to assist them during the day. They now have four employees, as well as family to help during the noon hour, after school and lend a hand in the baking.
Putting their own special touch and unique spin on their cupcake recipes, Hughes and McDermott each have their own favorites, and see regular customers come in for their favorites as well.
“We take what we like and our personal tastes to come up with recipes,” said Hughes. They’re constantly coming up with new ideas to try out as well.
“It took a lot of trial and error to find the right recipes,” McDermott said. “We learned the hard way to make a solid product.”
Some of their most popular cupcakes are anything with chocolate, Wedding Cake, Monster Cookie, Red Velvet and Hot Fudge Sunday.
“People fall in love with a certain flavor,” said McDermott.
Working together, Hughes and McDermott both bring their own strengths to the cupcake table. McDermott admitted she’s more comfortable in the kitchen working with food and staying organized. Hughes offered that she’s a people person and prefers to be in the front of the house. They work hard and work well together, which is evident by the packed house of customers.
“We’ve learned so much along the way and are always learning something new,” said Hughes.
When Baked. first opened, McDermott said they were baking 200 dozen cupcakes a week! I guess you could say things have slowed down. They’re now at 120 dozen cupcakes a week.
Aside from selling out of their Baked. location, the ladies said they’ve supplied their cupcakes for special occasions such as weddings and family events. They currently bake bread for The Jitney Wine Bar, rolls for The Heights Supper Club and made cupcakes for Darrell’s A Family Tradition for catering opportunities.
“I think people miss the Family Food bakery,” Hughes said of the local grocery store that has been closed for some time. “Hopefully we can help fill the holes. We appreciate other businesses supporting us.”
Baked. is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“Eventually we may open later in the day,” said Hughes, “to catch the after-work crowd.”
Thankful for the community and surrounding area support (Baked. has customers from Cascade, Manchester and Tipton.), all Hughes and McDermott have to say is, “There’s a lot more to come…”