2tarts Bakery (and then Catering) opened their doors of "Sweet" 300 at 193 N. Castell in New Braunfels on July 10, 2010. Flash forward 5 years into the present, and the two sisters that comprise the "Tarts", April Williams-Weilbacher and Ashley Landerman, and their 19 other employees are still churning the treats out the door of their pink bakery and into the streets of Downtown New Braunfels stronger than ever. As the bakery prepares for "Tartstock," their open-to-the-public birthday party slated for Sunday, July 12th, we sat down with April to reflect on the past 5 years, and ask what's next for the little bakery that could.
How did the bakery end up downtown?
Downtown was not our first location. We were looking for a location that was small and cheap. All the places we liked kept getting snatched up. We called the Wiggins to inquire about space in the Marketplace (on Business 35) and they asked us to come down to their office to talk with them about the possibility of a downtown location. They really forced us to consider the idea of being downtown. I pitched them our idea, and they thought it would be perfect for Downtown New Braunfels and wanted us in their vacant spot.
What was the first day of being open like?
So, our very first day open was July 10th in 2010. It was our soft opening and grand opening all at once, which we realize now was a horrible mistake. We did amazing in sales that day for not having much in stock. We gave away cupcakes and had a line out the door.
Other than cupcakes, what else did you have to offer?
Tarts, cookies, our coffee program was in its infancy. Scones, cinnamon rolls were also in the case.
What's changed in the case since then?
We've expanded the menu to things like tiramisu, cheesecake, more gluten free items, vegan items, and paleo items.
What was the wedding business like for you 5 years ago versus now?
We were doing (meal) catering and dessert bars for weddings. We really liked catering, but we realized there was a tipping point where we were booking more wedding and birthday cakes than we were doing catering. We had a flow in the kitchen that began getting disrupted by a catering job here and there. In 2012, we decided to end the catering and take it out of our name, and we finished any catering commitments we had on the books in 2013.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned from the past 5 years of operation?
My sister and I may be the bosses of our company, but our customers are our bosses. The customers come first. We care about what they think, and what their wants and needs are. A good business person is able to listen to those wants and needs, and being able to change your business model to reflect what those consumers want.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to open a business in New Braunfels?
Just because you're a small business in a small town doesn't mean you can get away doing just the bare minimum. We're always about building brand loyalty. Even though we're a small staff, we want every aspect of our business to look as professional as if we had a team of 30 people behind each and every feature of our product. Always work to be the most professional business you can be. Look to you employees for advice and ideas. They're the frontline of your company and have a finger on the pulse of what's happening. Be sure to work on your business, not just in your business. Make sure you have a partner. We're 2 tarts for a reason. If one of us can't be there, the other can step up and take up that slack. Find a really good manager that can hold your values and bottom line in mind. Pay them well - demand a lot out of them, but give a lot back to them.
Why do you use the ingredients you use?
Making everything from scratch means we have consistent control on how a product comes out. We're not using preservatives, we're not using genetically modified flour, we're using whole eggs, and real butter... And other more traditional bakeries that have been around for 20 years look at us and think we're crazy because they see our bottom line and struggle with this concept. In the end we feel like we can offer a better tasting product that feels more homemade because it is made from scratch with love and care, and that's more important to me than mass producing things.
How did the idea of throwing a five-year birthday party come about?
We got into the wedding cake and catering industry because we love events. There's always a strong food component when people commune together in celebration. For us, we feel our care and our love for our community and our town is expressed through the fact that we're not feeding our town crap. It's real food that people can trust and can make in their own kitchen. But, it's hard for someone to take the time out to do that, though. So, we not only get to make someone's wedding cake, but then they come in for their first anniversary cake, then they come in to get their baby shower cake, and their baby's first birthday cake. It makes us feel great. Needless to say, we've been a "part" of a lot of people's celebrations. So we're really excited to throw a celebration for ourselves. We see it as an opportunity to say "thank you," to all the people that have supported us - the ones that gave us the ability to pay our employees, and hire new employees. This party is about giving back to the community, showing them a. we can throw a hellagood party, and b. say THANK YOU for supporting us, because if it wasn't for people that valued scratch baked goods, and locally sourced ingredients, and inventive flavor ideas, we wouldn't be here. But, obviously, our community likes that, wants that, and want's to see more of it - and that's why we're here, and that's why we'll be for the next 20 years. Because, we enjoy being a part of this community, and embracing our locals and tourists, alike.
What's next for the bakery?
We're really looking to cement ourselves not only locally, as a business that cares about the Downtown of New Braunfels, but nationally - bringing recognition to New Braunfels as foodie city and being a landmark business within this community. I really want to become like the Franklin's (BBQ) of New Braunfels, where we don't need to expand - we don't need a second location, we just want to get that line out the door for our place - we want people waiting in line for that blackberry tart.
Tartstock will kick off under the tent in the 2tarts parking lot at noon on Sunday, July 12 with DJ b.read, and will follow with live music from The Numinous at 2p, Charley Marley at 3p, Blue Healer at 4p, and capped off with Haley Cole at 5p. In addition to a great showcase of live music, there will also be kids activities featuring crafts and facepainting, a hula-hoop contest, pie eating contest, cupcake bake-off, gourmet sandwiches from The Bread Box San Antonio, shopping, a photo booth, Crave Juice Sampling, and free beer from Ranger Creek Brewing. Admission is free and is open to the public.