One gay Dallas man helps bring the 75-year-old bakery that has been a family’s favorite into the digital age
DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer [email protected]
Aston’s Bakery on Lovers Lane is a third-generation family business.
Danny Sikora said Aston’s baked his parents’ wedding cake and that family tradition was to have an Aston’s seven-layer cake for each family member’s birthday.
Sikora said that earlier this year, Aston’s approached him to work with them.
“They needed help getting the bakery on track,” Sikora said. “My role has turned into development.”
Until his dad died last year, Sikora managed his father’s medical practice. He said that he’s still getting requests for records from patients for a variety of reasons. Some just have new doctors but others need to prove to insurance companies that they are not covering pre-existing conditions.
But as that demand on his time has been slowing down, Sikora was looking to reinvent himself. The medical practice was a family business and he was not looking to go to work for another doctor.
He’s been in business for himself before with a wholesale business, and he had a florist shop, with locations in NorthPark Center and on Henderson Street.
But with the economic downturn, Sikora decided the time to open another new business wasn’t right.
Aston’s Bakery has been around since 1934. Its first location was on Lemmon Avenue near Douglas Avenue. Then the bakery moved to Preston Center where it remained for 50 years.
For the past seven years Aston’s has been on Lovers Lane.
Sikora said one problem the bakery had was the lack of a mailing list. After seven years, former customers are still just finding them.
“All orders are still taken with paper and pencil,” Sikoa said.
Now, he encourages the bakery to also get e-mail addresses, and Sikora markets Aston’s on Facebook and texts special offers like two-for-one clearance on Saturday afternoons.
A recent promotion on GroupOn brought in 480 orders. That included more than 100 new customers.
“That was 17,000 petit fours,” Sikora said.
Most of the bakery’s business is special order.
“This is slow food,” Sikora said. “We’re using 75-year-old family recipes.”
Aston’s gets more orders for its champagne cake than for anything else.
Sikora described it as a chiffon cake with a hint of orange and champagne whipped cream between the layers, all covered with shaved white chocolate.
While the classics remain unchanged since Aston’s first began baking in Oak Lawn, Sikora has encouraged the bakery to update some of its styles for the cakes, cupcakes, cookies and bread on display for sale in the store.
“We’ve added new products,” Sikora said, describing a cream cheese-maple-bacon frosting-covered carrot cake cupcake that Aston’s is currently experimenting with.
Sikora said the bakery’s been around so long that the family just thought everyone knew about them. Until Sikora began marketing the company this year, Aston’s didn’t even have a website.
But while social networking has worked well in bringing in new customers, Sikora is not above marketing the old-fashioned way, too. He’s walked up and down the carpool lanes at Highland Park schools handing out coupons.
While Sikora said everything at Aston’s is baked with whole ingredients — no preservatives, no mixes, nothing artificial — he’s experimenting with putting in a few products that meet those standards but are baked elsewhere. He recently talked to Mark Shekter about adding Ruthie’s Rugaluch for the holidays.
Aston Bakery, 4342 Lovers Lane. 214-368-6425.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 22, 2010