New franchise owners want to bake joy into their Bundt cakes
Tri-Citians need a little more cake.
That’s what Julie Zirker believes.
She’s the co-owner of the first Nothing Bundt Cakes franchise in the Tri-Cities.
It’s opening at 110 Gage Blvd., Suite 200, in Richland at the end of June.
“We need a little more joy and a little more cake. They’re interchangeable,” she said.
Zirker and her sister-in-law, Julie Dawes’ bakery will make nothing but Bundt cakes, pun completely intended.
It may sound like a limited business plan, but the brand’s been in business for 25 years, with more than 410 locations nationwide and a trademark on their frosting pattern.
“They make one thing and they make it really well,” Dawes said.
Nothing Bundt Cakes sells 10 different flavors of Bundt cake baked fresh daily: strawberries and cream, snickerdoodle, red velvet, chocolate chip, white chocolate raspberry, lemon, confetti, carrot, classic vanilla, as well as rotating featured flavors throughout the year such as key lime, which is a new flavor that will be debuting by the time the Richland location opens. A gluten-free option also is available.
Cakes come in four sizes: 10-inch, 8-inch, cupcake-size Bundtlets, and bite-size Bundtinis by the dozen. Cakes can also be double-tiered for weddings and other special events. Each features a thick real cream cheese frosting petal or drizzle design.
Though the cake mixes come from the corporate headquarters in Addison, Texas, Nothing Bundt Cakes prides itself on using fresh eggs and butter sourced more locally.
A wide selection of Bundts will be available in the bakery daily, no preorder required, but handcrafted cake decorations themed around holidays and celebrations throughout the year also can be specially ordered for any occasion.
On the spectrum spanning grocery store cakes and high-end customized works of art, Dawes said Nothing Bundt Cakes offers a niche in between.
“You can come in and get a (premade) cake … It’s custom and it’s good quality and delicious and it’s on demand.”
The store also sells party items such as candles, cards, balloons and more, along with small gift items – “to make us one-stop shopping,” Dawes said.
The selection is handpicked by Zirker and Dawes.
“The bakeries have a very nostalgic feel to them; it feels like your grandma could work there,” Dawes said.
Despite being a franchise, she said each one should feel like a one-of-a-kind special place.
The duo foresees employing 15 to 20 and said people have already been emailing and stopping by to place orders.
They’re also excited because their kids are in their teens so the whole family will have more of an opportunity to be involved and learn useful skills through everyday business operations.
“We are both lifelong Tri-Citians … and this is our way to bring joy and happiness to our Tri-City community,” Zirker said.
In the joy business
Nothing Bundt Cakes began in Las Vegas with two home bakers, Dena Tripp and Debbie Shwetz, in 1997.
“I first tried (Nothing Bundt Cakes) in Spokane,” Dawes said. “And then every time we went to Spokane, we just had to get their cake and I was like, ‘Wait, why aren’t we doing this?’ ”
A former florist, Dawes quipped, “I’ve just always been in the joy business.”
Zirker was a stay-at-home mom, then worked in medical billing for the past five years.
“One thing Julie and I share is that entrepreneurial spirit. Owning my own business is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I wanted the right relationship and the right franchise … the stars kind of aligned and here we are,” she said.
The pair embarked on the path to becoming business owners in spring 2020.
They said Nothing Bundt Cakes corporate was excited to hear from someone in Tri-Cities as it had been eyeing the rapidly growing and diversifying community.
The sisters-in-law pulled back a bit though as the Covid-19 pandemic intensified.
“Nothing Bundt Cakes ends up being a company that does a lot of deliveries … a lot of their bakeries never even shut down, so the next year … we felt comfortable moving forward,” she said.
The pair said finding the right space was tricky and took a few months.
They finally found the perfect one in the 2,900-square-foot suite formerly occupied by Mezzo Thai, which reopened as Soi 705 at The Parkway in Richland in early October 2021.
Dawes and Zirker said the high visibility location isn’t taking much to be retrofitted.
“We’re all about bringing joy and eating cake,” Dawes said.
Bundt history lesson
Bundt cakes exploded into popularity in 1966 when a Bundt cake called the “Tunnel of Fudge” took second place in the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off.
Pillsbury was subsequently overwhelmed with more than 200,000 requests for Bundt pans, according to the Minnesota Historical Society Press.
Minnesota-based Nordic Ware was poised to capitalize on the demand.
The American-made cookware company, founded in 1946 in Minneapolis, began manufacturing Scandinavian cooking tools.
In the company’s early years, friends Rose Joshua and Fannie Schanfield of the Minneapolis Jewish-American Hadassah Society approached co-founder Dave Dalquist to see if he would recreate a lightweight modern version of a traditional German cast iron kugelhopf cake form.
A cast aluminum version was born and trademarked as a “Bundt.” The pan’s unique shape features curves emanating from a hollow center point.
Following a small production run in 1950 and poor sales, Nordic Ware considered discontinuing the pan.
However, after the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-off, Nordic Ware amped up production to 30,000 Bundt pans per day, according to a story by the University of Minnesota Alumni Association.
The company claims its Bundt pans can be found in 75 million homes around the world.
Some of its originals earned spots in the Smithsonian collection.
There’s even a National Bundt Day on Nov. 15.
A soft opening for the new bakery is planned for the end of June, with a grand opening to follow a few weeks later. A precise date is dependent on construction completion.
The grand opening celebration will be a three-day-long event featuring a ribbon cutting with the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Bundt cake giveaways, and a donation to a charity yet to be determined at press time.
“We’re going to give away and share a lot of cake,” Zirker said.