PRINCETON — What began as a favor for a friend has turned into a thriving business for Vickie Lester, owner of Vickie’s Yummy Bites Bake Shop.
Lester was a hairdresser for 24 years. One day, one of the clients in her chair told her that the woman who was supposed to make her wedding cake had backed out the night before the wedding.
“This was about ten years ago and I told her I would go home and try; worst case scenario we will buy some cakes and stack them up to look like a wedding cake,” Lester said. “I stayed up all night making a wedding cake for her and that led to people calling me and before I knew it, I was doing more cake than hair, so I opened a bakery.”
Lester has been baking for a long time at her home. The cakes she makes now are intricate and specialties. She said most of her inspiration comes from the Food Network, but the techniques themselves are trial and error.
“To figure out how to make them, it has been trial and error,” Lester said. “We are all quite fond of watching Food Network, so Halloween Wars, Cake Wars, that kind of thing. I google a lot, google is really where I started with it.”
Vickie’s Yummy Bites Bake Shop on Athens Road in Princeton has a “homey” atmosphere, one that welcomes regulars each week for lunch specials and everyday sweet treats.
“We usually have the cabinets full, we make those fresh every day,” Lester said. “We have pepperoni rolls every day and we have a light lunch menu every day. We were doing lunch specials every day, but it got to be too much so we have taken that down to once a week. On Wednesdays it could be anywhere to lasagna to a hamburger, it just depends. We do a few lunches during the day, usually the same locals.”
The shop celebrated its one year anniversary on Oct. 2, 2019. The bakeshop is not Lester’s first foray into owning her own business. She had her own hair salon a while ago, then went to work with a friend in a salon in the same building as her bakery.
“The lady that owns the salon owns the whole building, and there was a cupcake place here at the time. They left and the building was available so I took it,” Lester said. “We just basically used all the stuff we had been using and moved it here and opened a bakery.”
With the number of cake orders coming in, Kendra Cecil and Kayla Johnson have joined Lester as cake decorators on commission.
“It is family owned and operated,” Lester said. “My husband does all of the baking, my mother-in-law works the front for him and I do all the decorating. A couple of months ago, Kendra and Kayla came in and started helping. With the number of cake orders we have had coming in, I would not have been able to handle it on my own. We have at least three to four cakes per week that we have to do. That is also with still turning down cakes because of time.”
The intricacy of the cake decorating is, at times seasonal. Now, the three women are busy with very creepy cakes. The cakes on display in the shop were inspired by the popular horror film, “IT,” made with sugar sheet print offs and some hand-drawings. A second cake, a full witch’s hat made of rice crispy treats and fondant. The third cake features a very realistic-looking heart with some gore from the inside. The heart was made from a cake pop mixture and the “gore” is simply strawberry candies. Johnson said that she has just recently mastered the art of the strawberry candies with a new melting technique.
“I did not start doing this until a couple of months ago,” Cecil said. “I have always baked and my mom, growing up she always cooked home-cooked meals and taught me how to cook really young. I have always been a baker but I have always loved that part of baking, but I just never had the opportunity.”
Before becoming a baker, Cecil was a dental assistant and baked on the side, but the intricate cakes she now decorates started just a few months ago.
“I am a huge scary movie buff and with the new IT movie coming out and stuff I thought it would be really cool, I really enjoy that movie,” Cecil said. I kind of wanted to base it off of that.”
Cecil went to school with Lester’s daughter and she connected with Vickie through her daughter to start helping with the cakes. Johnson works at the adjoining store to the bakeshop and was approached by Lester to help because of her work as a painter.
“I go by a lot of pictures, Pinterest, I really do watch a lot of food network, especially this time of year with Halloween,” Cecil said. “They teach you some tricks that you can hold onto. I can tell that since Kayla and I started, we are taking on a lot more cakes because with us on, we are probably doing double now. That is really picking up.”
Cecil said that people are always pretty pleased with their cakes which adds to their business. Johnson added that some of the reasons they get such rave reviews are because of Lester’s commitment to keeping her customers happy.
“I have only been helping her for about a month or so now, but I do notice that we get way more cake orders than we can even handle ourselves and we get good reviews on those too,” Johnson said. “One thing that is awesome about Vickie is that if anyone ever has an issue, she instantly fixes it, there is no arguing, the customer is literally always right with her.”
Vickie’s Yummy Bites Bake Shop is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The shop offers full catering services in addition to desserts. For more information, call 304-431-1141 or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/vickielesterr40/.
— Contact Emily Rice at email@example.com.