Ladue News Feature Stories

Beary Tasty

On Nov. 14, a colorful new storefront made its debut in Des Peres’ West County Center: Build-A-Bear Bakeshop.

Inspired by the company’s deep-rooted make-your-own concept, the bakeshop brings a new approach that goes beyond creating a plush pal. At the first-ever Build-A-Bear Bakeshop, customers of all ages can decorate their own cupcakes, provided by locally owned sweet treat company Sarah’s Cake Shop.

According to chief operating officer Chris Hurt, Build-A-Bear actually introduced a food concept in the early 2000s – the Eat with Your Bear Hands single-location restaurant was launched in 2005 to complement the in-store experience at the Fifth Avenue store in New York City. The restaurant closed in 2007, but the company’s 20th birthday was the perfect excuse to bring back a sweet element of the concept in a smaller format with Build-A-Bear Bakeshop. By chance, a space became available on West County Center’s first floor, just a few storefronts down from the mall’s Build-A-Bear Workshop.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better time to open a concept like this,” Louis Wachter, the chief bakeshop manager, says, eyeing the busy mall around him. “The traffic has been unreal, and [the storefront] is so bright compared to those around it. Your eyes just go right to it.”

Patrons to West County Center can enjoy a variety of sweet treats including cupcakes, cake pops, cookies, cakes, macarons and more. Individual treats start at $2, and a 6-inch cake is $17.50. Customers can choose from already-iced cakes and treats or choose to decorate their own cupcakes with frosting, icing pens and sprinkles. The store also has a deal where customers can get two cupcakes and a drink – choosing from juice, milk, coffee or water – for $9, which Wachter says has been “hugely popular.” In addition to walk-in items, customers can also schedule a party at the bakeshop, where a “party host” will lead the group through decorating their cupcakes in a reserved place for games and activities. In the deluxe decorator package, each guest will receive a child-size apron and a character appearance in addition to the components of the basic decorator package.

Paired with their bakeshop goody, customers can also choose from a selection of milk from Kansas City’s famed Shatto Milk Company that include chocolate, strawberry, cotton candy and root beer flavors.

“We heard Shatto Milk was a big deal, so we gave them a call,” Wachter says. “They agreed to partner with us, and it marked their first venture out of the Kansas City area.”

When the bakeshop first opened, there was a line out the door just for the milk. Wachter recalls people leaving with multiple bottles of the cotton candy milk. “It’s been crazy,” he says.

Aside from branching out a bit to the other side of Missouri, working with local and regional companies has also been important to Build-A-Bear in bringing the bakeshop to life. Right out of the gate, the shop teamed with Sarah’s Cake Shop, whose team brings baked goods to the store three days a week. The bakeshop also carries St. Louis-based Dubuque Coffee and a variety of merchandise items themed around the bakeshop like mugs, thermoses and water bottles.

For now, the West County Center location of the bakeshop is the original and only store open for the Build-A-Bear brand.

“The Build-A-Bear name has been helpful to the success and the aesthetic so far,” Wachter says. “But it’s different from what people are used to.”

Though the bakeshop isn’t physically connected to the mall’s Build-A-Bear Workshop, Wachter has observed a notable stream of traffic to the bakeshop seems to come from customers who have previously been at the store creating furry friends.

“People know we’re here and are figuring time at the bakeshop into their winter plans,” he says.

Wachter recalls the “warm, fuzzy feeling” he had when he first started working in the workshop and is always seeking to provide that for countless customers to the bakeshop. He wants the bakeshop to be a place of fun, memories – and lots of sprinkles.

“A lot of kids spend the holidays baking with mom or grandma, but they [might] only see grandma a few times a year,” Wachter says. “If they come in here and decorate, they’ll have that moment and that memory, and Build-A-Bear can be part of that experience. Kids love the creative side, and we’ll handle the mess.”

This story was originally published at Read it on LN’s website here.

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