Spotlight: Sal Chavez Cakes in Victorville, CA

The baker at work!

Image provided by Sal Chavez Cakes

Sal Chavez, baking powerhouse of Sal Chavez Cakes, has seen some great press of late. A recent write up in the Victor Valley Daily Press highlighted the young entrepreneur and two other local businesses who are enjoying the popularity of custom cakes. I sat down with him over the holiday weekend to find out more about this local business owner.

From his early start hanging out in the kitchen with his mom as a kid growing up in the High Desert, Sal knew he would want to start a traditional bakery in his hometown. Though he had significant opportunities in major cities like Las Vegas, he started Cake Expectations here, where his heart and family are. After selling the successful business, he took a break and then started Sal Chavez cakes.

Their focus now is on higher end cakes, large, stacked and modern. I asked if he plans to compete on any of the television baking competitions/reality shows and he said that his coordinator keeps pushing him to, but he has too many other projects on his plate to run to Hollywood.

One of those projects is his new venture, The Brass Cupcake, an everyday line of delicious, high quality baked goods. It launches at the Victorville Farmers Market in two weeks, and they plan to expand throughout the Inland Empire soon.

As with many family businesses, placing family in core positions is cheap and the strength of relationship is a great foundation but Sal shared, “When great talent lies close to home, why go anywhere else?” One brother works as a baker alongside Sal and another manages the brand, design and marketing efforts. Sal’s dad is also a business owner in Victorville and gives him advice on leases, taxes and other business practices. “It’s fun to do it,” said Sal. “The whole process.” Launching Sal Chavez Cakes went much smoother thanks to lessons learned from Cake Expectations. And all signs point to The Brass Cupcake going further still.

Currently he doesn’t advertise – all business is from word-of-mouth, referrals from wedding coordinators and venues and publicity like the Daily Press article. Sal and his team believe social media is really important to local businesses in today’s market. Personally he starts searching online for anything he is buying and he knows his customers do too. This is why Sal Chavez Cakes puts effort into their online presence, managing their brand carefully – putting out enough information for customers to understand who they are, but encouraging customers to make an appointment for a tasting so they can get the real Sal Chavez Cakes experience. With delicious samples, French press coffee and a comfortably elegant tasting room the goal is to “make the customer feel like a million bucks.” They use Google Analytics to track how their web visitors are finding them and use that information to continually improve their marketing.

As much as he enjoys supporting Victorville’s economy and spends time and money with friends at local spots like D’vine Wine Bar, doing a pubcrawl or upscale, casual evening out with friends means going down the hill, renting a hotel room and dropping a few hundred dollars in downtown LA that could have been spent up here. Like many local business owners, he hopes that entrepreneurs will develop more ‘hot spots’ and help build up a thriving nightlife scene. (Another favorite local business of his is Paulina’s Mexican Grill, where he says the fresh food blows him away.) When we talked about the future of Victorville, Sal was excited about my new favorite topic – redeveloping Seventh Street. He has a vision for a vibrant, walkable district filled with shops, cafes, wine bars, galleries and a great restaurant concept he calls “66” – a microbrewery-style eatery. The biggest challenge he sees right now is financing.

The City of Victorville, Victorville Chamber of Commerce, or other community leaders could make a public and concerted effort to support local business. His experience with Cake Expectations in Apple Valley was great in this regard and he still has a good relationship with the Town and Chamber of Apple Valley. He also suggested grant programs for entrepreneurs willing to work on the Seventh street redevelopment.

So why grow his business in a time of recession and doom-and-gloom economic reports? “Rent is cheap and labor is plentiful!” he shared. If he is able to open up and expand his three business concepts, he would potentially create 40+ permanent jobs in Victorville, jobs that I imagine he would fight tooth-and-nail to protect, as opposed to big chains that will pull out at the first sign of falling profits, taking their jobs with them. As to the economy in general, he said “I still feel its a little shaky, people hoarding money, but they are starting to spend. We are still getting $2,000 cake orders. The average price is rising because people see the time and effort that go into it.”

And his advice to other local business owners? “If you can survive in this recession, once its over you’ll be solid. Just hang in there!”

If you would like to see your locally-owned business highlighted on this blog, please contact Alyssa Penman by email at AlyssaPenman {at} RelyLocal {dot} com or call her at 760-240-7950. RelyLocal.com is a locally-owned business that connects local consumers to local businesses for a thriving, robust and vibrant local economy.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s