“It’s going to exceed all my expectations. I can tell already.”
Craig Moore is very excited about his new cake shop – bundt cake shop to be exact. He and his wife Wendy opened the first Dallas outpost of a growing chain called Nothing Bundt Cakes back in November, and so far he’s “tickled to death” at the positive response their specialty cakes have received.
But Moore’s not just any new business owner, and there’s more to his enthusiasm than a passing sugar high.
Moore, 52, is the former President and CEO of North Texas-based CiCi’s Pizza. He took the helm in 2003 after the founder’s retirement and sale of the company to a group of its executives. Moore had been with CiCi’s for over a decade at that point, and under his subsequent leadership the popular pizza buffet chain thrived, earning notices in the press and industry accolades for growth, sales and customer service.
Moore retired last year, but not for long.
Around that time, Moore’s wife Wendy fell in love at first bite on a visit to Nothing Bundt Cakes’ first Texas location in Southlake. The Moores then began studying the business as a whole, eventually travelling to its headquarters in Las Vegas to meet with founders Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz.
After learning the sweet details behind this simple homemade cake business, Moore knew he wanted more than just a taste of the action. “I was so excited about the franchise side that I bought into the company,” the former restaurant exec explains. “So actually I’m the President of Nothing Bundt Cakes [Enterprises] now.”
And for this experienced prez, it’s full steam ahead.
In addition to the chain’s current tally of 15 stores in six states, plans for future expansion included an expo here in town last week designed to entice potential franchisers. “I think we’ll be able to sell out all the remaining territories in Dallas,” Moore predicted on the day before the big meeting. That amounts to seven possible area locations to come, in addition to the three already purchased by the Moores. (With two more from him and Wendy on the way, Moore hinted that their next bakery would be in the area of Highland Park Village.)
So much for retirement. These must be some cakes, right?
From the moment you step foot into Nothing Bundt Cakes’ small, cheerful bakery at Preston & Royal, you’re enveloped with an aroma straight from Nana’s kitchen. Craig, Wendy and their team bake the bundts from fresh ingredients each day, starting bright and early around 7:30 a.m. A thick, moist crumb rich with eggs and sour cream sets these bundts apart from the rest of the cupcake-crazed crowd.
As Moore points out, that’s the key difference at Nothing Bundt Cakes - focusing on flavor first.
“There’s a big explosion right now with cupcakes, but the reality is they’re not in the cake business,” he asserts, referencing what he sees as a trendy style-over-substance approach. With just a couple of sizes ($3.99 singles and standard sizes from $18.50), each of his baked treats is decorated simply with cream cheese frosting. Plain in comparison to the eye candy you’ll find in many other bakeries, these bundts could almost pass for homemade.
Every day, the shop features “bundtlets” for one in flavors from lemon to red velvet to chocolate-chocolate chip. (The latter is a top seller and we can attest to its high-ranking flavor.) Standard-size cakes can be ordered in any variety on an hour’s notice. And for those who must gild the lily, they can be embellished with ribbons and bows.
All that sounds delicious, to be sure, but it begs the question, what’s the appeal to an expert in family-friendly pizza buffets? According to Moore, the two businesses have more in common than meets the eye.
“At Cici’s, we were a low-cost provider. This is very much a luxury, specialty product. …But really, the way you do business is exactly the same. …It’s taking care of people, it’s making them feel good when they come in the door, and giving them a product they really want.”