From one cake lady to another: Short Street Cakes changes ownership

PASSING THE MIXING SPOON: Asheville's original Cake Lady, Short Street Cakes owner Jodi Rhoden, right, announced last week that she's selling her 10-year-old business to her current production manager, Olga Perez, left. Perez says she plans to keep things business-as-usual at the bakery, for the most part, while bringing in some of her own dessert specialties. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Although Short Street Cakes owner Jodi Rhoden is selling the growing business she started in her home a decade ago, at least she’s keeping it in the family — the Short Street Cakes family, that is. Rhoden, who put her popular West Asheville bakery on the market almost exactly a year ago, announced on Jan. 27 that she is transferring ownership to Olga Perez, the shop’s production manager for nearly four years.

Before she began working with Rhoden, Perez, who started her love affair with baking while in high school, says,  “I baked cakes out of my home in Emma for family and neighbors. My dream has always been to a have a bakery. This is a job that I enjoy every moment.”

Rhoden and Perez met through a mutual friend when Rhoden was writing her first book, Cake Ladies. Perez was interviewed and featured as one of those cake ladies, renowned in her community for her birthday cakes, tres leches cakes and flans. The two became close friends with a common love for baking, and within a year Perez began working full time at Short Street Cakes. 

Mountain BizWorks worked with Perez and her husband, Tomas Aguilar, to arrange for financing after the couple made the decision to purchase the shop in mid-January. “They were very helpful with us in every way to make this possible,” says Aguilar.

The official transfer of ownership will take place during the shop’s seventh annual Mardi Gras Party on Tuesday, Feb. 9. The festivities will include a raffle, Mardi Gras beads, live music and, of course, cake.

While Rhoden will continue to play a role in the shop’s operation for a few months to assist in the transition, she emphasizes that “Olga is the new Cake Lady in charge. It’s up to her now.” After what Rhoden calls “a lifetime in the food service industry,” she plans to begin a new chapter in her life focusing on writing, working with Mountain BizWorks and growing her new business-consulting venture, Birdseye Business Planning.

Perez says she intends to keep things business-as-usual at Short Street Cakes throughout the transition and to introduce new concepts “one step at a time.” Her goal, she says, is to maintain and grow the reputation that Short Street Cakes has already earned within the community.

In the future, Perez, who is originally from the state of Hidalgo in southeastern Mexico, aims to eventually expand the varieties of cakes offered to include more of the specialties that made her a Cake Lady in the first place, including her mother’s recipes for flan and a tres leches cake that incorporates tequila. “We’ll definitely be adding that soon,” she says. She also hopes to rearrange the floor space to allow for more café seating and access to the counter.

“I’m so excited and happy about this,” says Perez. “I want to thank Jodi for giving us this opportunity. We want to welcome anyone and everyone to continue to visit Short Street Cakes.”

Short Street Cakes is at 225 Haywood Road. The change of ownership and the shop’s annual Mardi Gras Party will take place 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9. For details, visit shortstreetcakes.com.

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