August 18, 2008
LIFE IS SWEET
Businesswoman invites guests to have their cake and eat it too
Written by Joe Millican
When Tracy Dueck lay on her couch at home, considering how she could put her baking skills into practice, there was little to indicate she would eventually be rewarded with a thriving small business and countless new friendships.
Having spent a number of years raising her kids at home, Dueck had no formal culinary training but had always enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen as a young girl and later honing those talents cooking for her family.
Four years later, and Dueck has now opened her second Tracycakes Bakery Café on Montrose Avenue in downtown Abbotsford. It follows the opening of the flagship store in Fort Langley 18 months ago.
Sitting in the buzzing dining area of her Abbotsford location, surrounded by cupcakes and other treats, Dueck admits her surprise that all has gone so well.
“But if you are passionate about what you do, I think you can succeed,” she says.
“I just figured I would sell some cupcakes and somebody would come in, but I always felt a voice saying ‘If you built it, they will come’ – kind of like Field of Dreams!” she laughed.
Tracycakes appears to have found its niche – focusing on weddings, schools, showers, parties, and well as the casual pedestrian.
Making between 500 and 1,000 cupcakes a day, Dueck says treats with such bizarre names as Mellycake, 5 O’Clock Somewhere, Ra-Ra Raspberry, Fill-Me-Up Buttercup, 24 Karat Cake and Jessicupcake are all proving popular with shoppers looking for a sugary bite.
And with Abbotsford customers buying approximately three times more cupcakes than in Fort Langley, Dueck is more than happy with her choice of location.
“They like their sweets!” she says.
According to Dueck, there is no science to naming her cupcakes, which she says come in more than 35 varieties.
It will just come to me. Some of them are named after my kids and some are named just because they are fun,” she said.
While specializing in cupcakes, Tracycakes also offers a lunch and dinner menu.
But while much of the focus is on food, Dueck points out that different dishes are just part of the equation.
Not only does she reiterate that she wants her customers to meet together and fully enjoy their eating experience, but she also maintains that same philosophy for her employees.
“If you have happy staff you have happy customers and a better world. I want them to find value here,” she says.
As an extension of that, Dueck says that her employees care strongly for their customers.
As one example, Dueck highlights one couple – married for 50 years – who regularly come into the café. The husband underwent heart surgery, and Dueck said one of her employees went to the hospital to pay him a visit.
Now well-established, Dueck is looking to the future – and has her sights on a third store in either White Rock or Steveston.
“I am just a girl with a dream,” she stresses.
“It’s very risky and if you know me I’m not really a risk taker in my general personality but I have really enjoyed it.” I have learned a little bit about myself – that I can be brave.”
By Andrew Bucholtz – Langley Times
August 16, 2008 12:00 PM
Fort Langley proved to be a great launching pad for Tracy Dueck’s business. Dueck opened her first Tracycakes bakery/cafe in Fort Langley’s historic Marr House back in September 2006. The business quickly became popular, allowing her to open a second outlet on Abbotsford’s Montrose Avenue earlier this year.
Dueck told The Times that she decided to expand because the Fort Langley location couldn’t supply the demand for her cupcakes.
“We just had a real need for more room,” she said. “We just weren’t keeping up with the volume we needed.”
Dueck said that she chose Abbotsford for her second outlet because she had previously considered setting up shop there.
“I had first looked at Abbotsford before I came to Fort Langley,” she said. “The downtown’s becoming a really neat location and I wanted to get in on that.”
Dueck said she looked at various locations in Abbotsford last October, then signed a lease in December and opened the second outlet in February. She said the new location has been a tremendous success so far.
“Abbotsfordians, they love their baking,” she said. “For about three months, it’s been about three times the volume [of sales, as compared to the Fort Langley store].”
Dueck said the second outlet, with its larger commercial kitchen, has allowed her to streamline her cooking process. All of the cupcakes are now made in Abbotsford.
“We bake them in Abbotsford and transport them to Fort Langley fresh every day,” she said.
Dueck’s bakeries and cafes offer more than just cupcakes, though: they also have an extensive dine-in menu, featuring quiche, shepherd’s pie, homemade borscht and chili, among many other items. Some of the items are made in Langley, while some are made in Abbotsford. Dueck said the greatest benefit of her second location is the ability to streamline production of each of the items her cafes offer.
“Having the new kitchen is the best thing,” she said.
Dueck said the Abbotsford clientele is more focused strictly on cupcakes, while the Fort Langley clientele prefers a fuller dine-in experience.
“For now, Abbotsford is pretty large on the cupcakes,” she said. “Fort Langley is larger on the lunch.”
Dueck said her Abbotsford outlet’s sales are about 50 per cent cupcakes and 50 per cent full meals, while only 30 per cent of her Fort Langley outlet’s sales are from cupcakes alone. She said that the historic building her Fort Langley store is in also helps to draw in the eat-in customers.
“It’s quite quaint,” she said. “It’s quite lovely.”
Tracycakes also offers a “High Tea,” which features specialty loose-leaf teas, sausage rolls, fresh fruit, lemon curd and Devonshire cream, among other fancy offerings. Dueck said it’s been more successful in Langley than Abbotsford so far, though.
“It’s quite a nice presentation,” she said. “If I could expand one thing, I’d like to get more people to High Tea in Abbotsford.”
In addition to their in-store business, Tracycakes also caters for weddings and events. Dueck said they were especially swamped with the rash of weddings on Aug. 8, due to the perceived good luck of marriages on 08/08/08.
“We must have made 3,000 cupcakes,” she said. “That was really crazy.”
Tracycakes offers 35 different cupcake varieties. Dueck said four of the most popular are “Lovely Bunch of Coconut,” “La-La Lemon,” “German Chocolate,” and “Boston Cream.”
Dueck said the biggest challenge associated with the expansion to a second facility was training the new staff. She now has 24 employees over the two locations.
“The hardest thing was teaching staff how to do what you want, how to learn the system,” she said.
Dueck said her staff members have proved adaptable, though.
“I have such fabulous staff,” she said. “You’re only as good as your staff.”
Dueck said another difficult task has been trying to co-ordinate both outlets’ activities.
“I need another one of me,” she said.
Despite the challenges, Dueck said she’s very happy she made the decision to open a second location.
“Oh yes, oh yes, I love it.”
By Anna Dupas
Aug 16 – 22, 2008
8. Sweet Spot
Abbotsford just got a little sweeter with the opening of Tracycakes Bakery Cafe (101-2636 Montrose Ave.). The popular eatery, which joins an inaugural branch in Fort Langley, can now officially be declared the Fraser Valley’s favourite cupcake destination. These little handfuls of heaven, topped with hand-piped buttercream icing, are available in over 35 flavours, including Smartie Pants, Peppermint Patty and Va-Va Vanilla. If you prefer heartier fare, the café also serves up everything from scratch-made soups and sandwiches to quiche and chili. For owner-manager Tracy Dueck, a culinary queen with a knack for snacks, the success of her shop is just the icing on the cake.