Local women find their sweet spots, open bakeries

Mrs. Kay’s Sweet Treats’ butterfly birthday cake
Mrs. Kay’s Sweet Treats’ butterfly birthday cake Mrs. Kay’s Sweet Treats

Jennifer Kaye and Lisa Kaysinger have more in common than similar last names. Both in their 40s, these two local women are taking the midlife-career-change plunge into their own dessert-centric businesses with brick-and-mortar sweet shops debuting this month.

Veterans of online orders and custom catering, both women have spent the past several weeks preparing their new bakery spaces for business. Kaye will open her About a Bite Bakery on July 14 at 1200 K St., Suite 9, in downtown Sacramento. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Her confection shop will share space with Downtown & Vine.

Kaysinger already has opened Mrs. Kay’s Sweet Treats at 9671 E. Stockton Blvd. in Elk Grove. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. On Sundays, the 1,400-square-foot shop is reserved for birthday parties and special occasions.

“We had a soft opening (just before the July Fourth weekend), but we plan to have a grand opening July 18,” Kaysinger said. “I’ve never been so tired.”

Mrs. Kay’s Sweet Treats also will have a booth at the Strauss Festival at Elk Grove Regional Park, July 23-26.

Both entrepreneurs built up loyal clientele before introducing their unique desserts to would-be shoppers who might drop in for a taste.

“I’ve been doing this for about two years, but online only,” said Kaysinger, a registered nurse for more than 20 years. “I’ve been getting such loyal customers, especially around the holidays. I decided to take the plunge and just do it (full time).”

Her initial inspiration came from her husband, Christopher Kaysinger, a corrections officer at Folsom prison.

“Everybody calls him ‘Big Kay.’ That’s how I became ‘Mrs. Kay,’ ” she said with a laugh. “Whenever there’s a potluck at his work, his (co-workers) always tell him, ‘You’re bringing the dessert!’ Finally, he told me, ‘You should start a bakery.’ And I did! But I couldn’t have done it without his support.”

Mrs. Kay’s is best known for its specialty candies such as chocolate high-heel “shoes,” chocolate-covered bacon, chocolate-dipped from-scratch flavored marshmallows and nut brittles spiked with beer, wine, coffee or hot peppers. Mrs. Kay’s baked goods include pies, bagels, fancy cupcakes, cookies, birthday cakes and much more. Mrs. Kay’s treats also are available online.

“My best sellers are the chocolate-covered bacon – I can’t make enough of it – and the chocolate high-heel shoe,” Kaysinger said. “Among the cookies, lemon doodles are my best seller and, among the brittles, definitely cashew better brittle ($22.50 a pound).”

I love anything baked, but I also love chocolate and truffles. I found a way to put them all together and make something really original.

Jennifer Kaye, creator of About a Bite Bakery

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Kaye developed her unique treats for years before launching About a Bite online. As the name implies, these delectable sweets are bite-size candy-cookie hybrids.

“I’ve been a candy maker my whole life,” Kaye said. “I love food, I love baking and I love to experiment. I love anything baked, but I also love chocolate and truffles. I found a way to put them all together and make something really original.”

Kaye spent “20-some years in packaging” before her leap into the bakery business.

“That gave me a leg up on shipping; I know how to package my bites,” she said. “I was at a point in my life where I wanted to make a change. Now, I’m doing what I love.”

Like Kaysinger, Kaye started her bakery business online. To fill orders, she rented a commercial kitchen in Gold River.

“A retail store at the start was out of the question,” Kaye said. “I found a kitchen I could use. A woman was making wedding cakes, but moved (out of the area), so I took over her lease and equipment. Now, that lease was coming up, so it was time for a storefront.”

Downtown & Vine already carried some of Kaye’s bites and its owner suggested Kaye share the space.

“The location couldn’t be better,” Kaye said. “We’re so close to the Capitol and Convention Center. Our product is geared towards gifts, and we should get good walk-up traffic. I’m really looking forward to bringing my bites to a whole new audience.”

Her most popular treat is her original bite: Salted caramel. But her dessert menu is always changing as she comes up with new combinations.

Examples include delicate Passion Fruit-Champagne (which incorporates toasted coconut shortbread) and tangy Strawberry Balsamic Ganache (with brown butter shortbread). About a Bite also offers about a dozen creative variations on cookie sandwiches such as Yuzu Green Tea (yuzu citrus marmalade between two green tea almond cookies, dipped in white chocolate) and “Mmmoreo” (vanilla creme between chocolate crinkle cookies, an upscale twist on familiar Oreos).

“Customers tend to start with the salted caramel,” Kaye said. “Once they try that, they get a little more adventuresome.”

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington