At SusieCakes, there’s a reason to celebrate every day. Once upon a time, SusieCakes’ founder, Susan Sarich, was known simply as “Susie” by her two beloved grandmothers, Mildred and Madeline. After growing up and moving to the West Coast from Chicago, Susan brought handwritten 3×5 cards filled with her grandmothers’ recipes and started SusieCakes. For the last 16 years, they’ve been baking their tantalizing layered cakes, delicate cupcakes, classic cookies and a selection of pies.
Although SusieCakes has grown to more than 20 locations, they continue to only bake with ingredients that are fresh and high-quality; no mixes, artificial preservatives or shortening are used in their products. Houston Striggow, co-founder and chief development officer, explains what makes SusieCakes so special.
What inspired you to get into foodservice?
“Early on in my career, my cousins in southern Ohio owned a Dairy Queen franchise that they later turned into their own concept call Joe and Ann’s Shake Shoppe. I spent a few weeks every summer working 12 hours a day making burgers and fries and dispensing soft ice cream. Fast forward, as I travelled with my parents, I enjoyed the restaurants and hotels we frequented. It seemed like a great career to work when others were “playing”. I decided to go to hotel school at Michigan State and later to culinary school at Johnson and Wales. All totaled, I have spent 55 years doing what I love which I can then call work.”
What do you love about your business?
“Connecting Through Celebration is our mission. We provide such great joy to people with our baked goods and as a result, we get to share in their life celebrations—both happy and sad. Birthdays, anniversaries, you name it; we make days better for our guests and our team members. Growing our company has not only allowed us to bring our baked goods to more guests, but equally important, it has allowed us to create continual career opportunities to our team members.”
What’s the most interesting thing to happen to your business?
“Well, we have a lot of Hollywood stars and celebrities come in which is always fun. But what gives Susie and I great joy and big smiles is when we see our unmistakable SusieCakes bags on the street, in restaurants or even in airports and planes! We know that someone who loves their SusieCakes is taking it to share with others. What could be better?!”
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
“Like everyone else, COVID. We fought for our survival, and we continue to rebuild as we are able to hire more staff. There is as much demand for SusieCakes as pre-COVID. Our challenge continues to be finding staff compounded now by margin pressures due to the inflationary impact on our ingredients and paper goods.”