Above: Chateau Cafe and Cakery will offer cupcakes like Chicken Pot Pie, Mac N Cheese, Maple Bacon and PB Chocolate Fudge for dessert.
Laura Hatajik and Keren DeCarlo call themselves “Sweet Geeks,” but the new café they’re opening on the Northside won’t shy away from the savory.
Together, they are preparing to open Chateau Cafe and Cakery next month in the Chateau neighborhood at 1501 Preble Avenue where they’ll serve up breakfast, lunch, coffee and just about any kind of cupcake you can think of, including one made of mac n’ cheese.
Before starting their business, Natrona Heights resident Hatajik was a workforce management supervisor and Brighton Heights resident DeCarlo worked at a leasing company.
Both enjoyed baking for friends and family outside of work, but Chateau Café and Cakery will turn their passion into a new career.
Hatajik was laid off in August 2012, which she calls a “blessing in disguise” because it gave her an opportunity to pursue her dream of opening her own bakery.
For the two co-owners, neither of them will be missing their old day jobs.
“It’s always fun to learn new things and use your brain in ways you haven’t before. But it just becomes monotonous. With baking, you’re always using your imagination,” Hatajik said.
Their imaginations are on display in many of their cupcakes. Some of their planned specialties include a mac and cheese cupcake as well as a meatloaf cupcake.
“Our menu is not just sweets,” Hatajik said. “We’re going to do breakfast. We’re going to do lunch.”
Customers will have the option of a daily savory cupcake and a daily breakfast cupcake. “You can get your spinach, tomato, egg cupcake for breakfast. Then come in and get your mac and cheese cupcake with a salad for lunch,” Hatajik said.
In addition, they will be serving coffee from beans roasted by Nicholas Coffee and Tea Company in Market Square. Espresso beverages and specialty drinks, such as a mint-flavored latte, will also be available.
As they eagerly anticipate their targeted opening, Hatajik and DeCarlo admit being somewhat nervous but remain confident.
“There’s a lot of white-collar and blue-collar people in this area, but there’s not a lot of options for them. I think we can get just about everyone in this area to try us,” DeCarlo said.
Located on the first floor of an office building, the café will provide seating for 40 people. Although safety regulations actually allow for 55, DeCarlo says that creating a “cozy and warm” environment takes priority.
“We want people to come in and sit and not feel that they have to rush.”
Though interior construction is not yet complete, it was only last December that the two had met for the first time through a mutual friend.
Their chemistry was instant.
“I’d be more nervous if we didn’t get along so well,” DeCarlo said.
While working well together helps, both admit that they’ve also received much appreciated assistance from Dave Colaizzi, who is their business partner and a co-owner.
“Dave has really been the brains behind the operations. He’s gotten us in touch with a lot of people that have been very helpful,” Hatajik said.
Also the owner of the building, Colaizzi was interested in converting his vacant first floor space into a café when someone who worked in the building introduced him to DeCarlo. He has helped connect the two with the Northside Community Development Fund which helps finance small businesses in the Northside.
Both mothers in their early 30s, DeCarlo says, are motivated to work hard “to leave something for our kids.”