On Monday mornings, Bonnie Yarbrough gets out the glass cleaner and wipes the handprints from her Celebration Cakes storefront window.
People shopping in the plaza on weekends will stop and lean against the window to look at the cakes inside, she said, leaving their prints behind. But she doesn't mind.
In fact, Yarbrough keeps the bakery lighted at night to encourage people to see the 40 displays in her cake boutique. There are whimsical and novelty cakes fashioned into the shape of a teapot or a roulette wheel; tiered cakes decorated with seashells, orchids and butterflies; and baby shower cakes in rainbow colors.
Baking has been part of her life since she was growing up in Rockville, Md. As one of five children, she learned to bake and cook but enjoyed making only pretty cakes.
As an adult, baking special occasion cakes for family and friends became a hobby.
But after making her first wedding cake for a friend, she realized she wanted to experiment and learn more about the art of cake decorating.
The hobby became a business when she resigned her job with a sailing company and opened Celebration Cakes in late 1999 in a 1,000-square-foot space in Sabala Plaza.
Her husband, Ted, a mechanical engineer, and her father, Howard Baker, a retired custom builder, turned the former bar into a working bakery. Shortly after the business opened, Ted Yarbrough was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and now sometimes spends days at the bakery with his wife.
Bonnie Yarbrough is the bakery's designer and baker and hires help during the wedding season only.
How did you come up with the name for the business?
My husband, Ted, chose the name. He said cakes are celebrations and it should be called Celebration Cakes.
Is there one cake event that you are most proud of?
I was honored to be chosen to make a wedding cake for a Martha Stewart production, a destination wedding in Clearwater Nov. 9 at the new Sandpearl Resort. I supplied the wedding cake for the bride and groom, who were from Massachusetts, and the wedding party of 50. It will be featured in Martha Stewart's spring weddings and on her television program.
The four-layer cake had alternating tiers of pink and white fondant. One tier was decorated with stripes, one with polka dots and two with flower appliques. The top layer had a Swarovski crystal bow and crystal daisies.
What was the most difficult cake you have had to make?
The hardest cake I've had to do was a replica of a $1.5-million house in Belleair. The builders did two events; one was black tie, for the grand opening of the home in June 2006. The four-layer cake had to be completed on all four sides with windows, shutters, widow's watch, two-car garage and driveway with pavers. I had a week to make two identical cakes for the two opening events.
Any regrets that you gave up a corporate position for life as a baker?
None. I absolutely love it. It has been a godsend for me. I've been so blessed. I still have the first client who walked in my door, Judy Gibson. And I'll never forget the day I made a cake for the opening of the wedding garden at the Botanical Gardens. I had put butterflies and blue hydrangeas on the cake. During the day, real butterflies actually landed on my cake. It gave me goose bumps.
Chris Cosdon can be reached at email@example.com.