Baking up a food empire is no cakewalk.
Just ask “Cake Boss” star Buddy Valastro, who scaled his family-owned, Hoboken, N.J. sweet shop Carlo’s Bake Shop into a nationally known brand by leveraging his TV fame to build more than a dozen businesses across the U.S.
Valastro, a fourth-generation baker, took over his family-owned business in 1994 with his siblings. People would wait on wrap-around lines at the Hoboken, N.J. bakery for the shop’s fondant cakes with edible art and Italian-American pastries like lobster tails, rainbow cookies and cannoli which landed him the hit TLC reality show “Cake Boss” in 2009.
“Honestly, we were a busy bakery. We did well. I had a Porsche before I was ‘Cake Boss.’ I had 70 employees, I grew the business,” Valastro told Fox Business. “The reason why that business did so well was because it was my life. I was there six days a week. I managed — micro managed — that business like you have no idea. I knew where every single crumb was. How everything went in and out.”
“Cake Boss” aired for 10 seasons on TLC, in between, Valastro scaled his bakery to open up shops in New York City’s Times Square, Dallas, Orlando, Philadelphia and Las Vegas. But he had to rethink his retail business model to accommodate customer demand to buy online.
“The initial idea was to bring back the old-school Italian bakery in every town in America,” Valastro said. “The problem is, we don’t live like that anymore. During the growth my empire, the whole internet shopping experience hit hard.”
To adapt, he’s added in third-party delivery services like UberEats and DoorDash so customers can order pastries via the apps, and added on savory items like focaccia to menus.
“Sweets are more of an impulse item. We added the savory component into the bakery because you don’t always wake up on a Tuesday morning and say, ‘You know what? I really need a cannoli,’” Valastro explained. “We’ve been doing a lot more [business] online. People want to have it [food] delivered to their door step like they do with Amazon, UberEats or DoorDash -- that’s the time we’re in. You have to kind of adapt and survive. You have to be on every platform.”
The next leg of his cake empire will incorporate pie – pizza pies. He’s planning to open a fast-casual restaurant concept called Pizzacake in Las Vegas where fans can get pizza, sandwiches or dessert.
“We’re not going to be doing pizza in its traditional form, but more of a Roman-style, or focaccia-style pizza where people can grab a slice and go," Valastro said.