DADE CITY — The days of buying a “Betty Cake” in Dade City are coming to an end.
Betty Cakes, the bakery and restaurant whose reputation has grown since it opened in July 2011, will close its doors after a “Grand Closing” on May 23-24.
Owner Vickie West said the reasons for closing the store are twofold: she’s tired, and her business just doesn’t make enough money.
“It’s very, very popular; nothing’s wrong, everybody loves it. I can’t make the money that we need to make to keep it open,” West said. “It’s the numbers and I’m tired. I’ve done this for three years. If I could stay longer or if I could manage from afar, I believe it’s a successful business. I’m just not physically able to continue.”
Dade City’s Betty Cakes began with West’s friendship with Betty Williamson of Ocala, where West grew up.
“My friend Betty Williamson in Ocala had Betty Cakes and she has a business that has been there 10 years and it is very successful and she and I had this idea to try to develop this so we could do some franchises and take it everywhere,” West said.
West, 60, and her husband, David, decided to invest in the idea. “It seemed to be a really great idea so David and I have put every bit of energy, time and money into making this work.”
The couple traveled to bridal shows and other events spreading the word and providing samples of the “Betty Cake,” which was like no other.
“It is very successful; the cake is a secret recipe,” West said. “I don’t know it. I buy the powdered mix from [Williamson] and I go to Ocala to get it. Nobody but her knows the mix recipe. It is the best.
“There are stories of people who won a cake in a silent auction and ate it with their fingers on the way home. Some people say it has cocaine in it because it’s so addictive,” she said, laughing.
Although West believes Betty Cakes has a lot of potential for success, the Wests decided not to sell the business.
West will return to catering — the job she had before Betty Cakes. She ran a catering business for 20 years cooking in people’s homes or at the woman’s club.
“I have a lot of people behind me, supporting me in doing that so I believe that is something I’ll be able to do,” she said.
She just won’t have the secret recipe cakes.
“I never had a grand opening, so I’m having a grand closing,” West said. “We’re going to have free beverages with a purchase and the last chance to get Betty Cakes [in Dade City].”
West will have plenty of cakes for the closing.
“If you want to take a cake and freeze it when you come buy it, I will wrap it in saran wrap for you,” West said. “We’re doing that as a service to everybody and they can take it home and stash it for an emergency.”
“It’s going to be terrible to close the door,” West said. “It’s been fun serving people and doing the custom cakes and turning out things that people would not ordinarily be able to get.
“I really appreciate the courthouse [staff] and all the people from there,” she said. “The downtown people have been good customers. It’s been fun getting to know them and I’ll miss them.”
John Moors, executive director of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce, said Betty Cakes was “a very unique sort of offering.”
“It was well-known across Tampa Bay. They were a fabulous addition to Dade City and they are going to be missed,” Moors said.
The building at 37941 Meridian Ave. will not be empty long, West said. They have sold the furnishings to a new business owner who will open a restaurant offering Italian deli fare.