Attending the Portland culinary school Le Cordon Bleu was like being in "boot camp," said Holli Hutton, who graduated with honors from the two-year program three years ago.
"Every morning we'd line up, they'd inspect our uniforms (that had to be ironed and stain-free), they'd approve our shoes, inspect our fingernails," Hutton said.
The Grand Junction native returned to her hometown, and in September, along with her mother Debbie Allen, opened Hey Sweet Cakes!, at 545 North Ave.
While Hutton, 30, specializes in cakes - wedding cakes and cupcakes - every day there are cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, cream cheese and fruit danishes, five kinds of cookies and four flavors of cupcakes. She uses quality ingredients and everything is made from scratch.
Hey Sweet Cakes! also serves breakfast burritos made of eggs, potatoes, cheese, green chili and choice of meat. Prices are $3.25 for vegetarian, or $3.50 or $3.75 for added meat. (Consider a chocolate cupcake for dessert!)
You can also get a good cup of coffee to go with that pastry - the shop carries the Seattle-based Craven's coffee and offers drip brew, espresso and other specialty coffee drinks, plus Ghirardelli hot chocolate, as well as beverages from the cooler.
Cupcake flavors change weekly. On Tuesday, there was chocolate with coconut cream frosting, apple spice with cream cheese frosting, vanilla with raspberry cream and almond with chocolate-almond cream. And for those with a taste for the savory, there were bacon and cheddar muffins.
Shay Reeves is a regular customer and friend of the family who's enjoyed Hutton's cinnamon rolls for years.
"I'm so glad she opened a shop," Reeves said. "I come in here for the pastries and they have good coffee, too. And the prices are reasonable."
So far, business has been spreading largely by word-of-mouth," said Allen, who does the bookkeeping and waits on customers, while Hutton does all the baking.
Many of the recipes are original.
"I take a basic recipe, modify it, add my own ingredients," Hutton said.
"I have a lot of people ask me to do breads. So I do special orders," for bread requests.
Hutton has added a new twist on the age-old tradition of saving a piece of wedding cake for the one-year anniversary. Instead, she'd rather clients have something fresh so she makes small, six-inch cakes as anniversary gifts for wedding cake customers.
"I'll take pictures of the cake, and write down the flavors," Hutton said.
Starting today, Hey Sweet Cakes! is taking orders for holiday pies - pumpkin, cherry, apple, blueberry, pecan, cream pies - you name it, she'll make it.
"Nothing comes from mixes," Allen said. "So we're not limited. Whatever somebody wants, we'll buy the ingredients."
Hey Sweet Cakes! is open Tuesday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The bakery can be reached at 970-241-5600, or at email@example.com.