New bakeries come to town all the time. Everyone’s aunt seems to think they make the best cookies or their cupcakes are more special than others, but when your bakery is featured on a wildly successful TV show, it’s bound to draw enthusiastic customers.
Even if you’ve never seen Cake Boss, you’re probably aware of its existence. Centered on Buddy Valastro, the master baker of Carlo’s Bakery in New Jersey, and his family, the show documents the making of outlandish cakes — think a human-sized space shuttle cake with fire lit underneath it.
Carlo’s Bakery has expanded to 13 locations, including one in Preston Center. On Tuesday night, fans of Cake Boss and the bakery crowded inside to celebrate the premiere of season eight by mingling with cast members Joey Faugno and Chad Durkin and sampling different desserts. If for some reason you ever forget the bakery is fueled by a TV show, there are reminders everywhere. From cupcakes with Valastro’s face on them to T-shirts, the store is littered with merchandise.
But even without the show, the bakery has been successful many years.
“I think part of our style, it’s 100-year-old recipes,” Faugno told us. “It’s a 105-year-old business and they’re very old recipes we’ve adapted through time with the change of the flour and the milk ... over years, but we’ve adapted and we don’t skimp on ingredients. I think that’s the big thing. We use the best stuff and it translates to the customers.”
The fans ranged in dedication. For some, it was clear it was just a fun thing to do that included free samples. Nikki Patel, Alex Liss and Mercedes Ynocencio, three college-aged women, were there mainly for that. Liss was the only friend who was really a fan of the show — the others were just along for the ride, but said they would come back to the bakery for the good taste and cheap prices. Cupcakes ranged from $2.25 to $3.50, while Sprinkles Cupcakes, across Preston Road, typically start at $3.50 each.
On the other end of the spectrum, however, Apryl and Denise Karpuk have seen every episode of all eight seasons of Cake Boss and were at Carlo’s Bakery when its Dallas location opened in May. Apryl says she watches the show because she decorates cakes as a hobby and hopes to open her own bakery one day.
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“The other bakeries in town don’t compare,” she says. “I’m surprised Sprinkles across the street is still open.”
With six New Jersey locations — the state that houses the original Carlo’s Bakery — Faugno says they saturated the state, but Dallas was able to bring new success.
“Coming here, I never would have expected this. I never thought we would have gotten the welcome. I thought we were bringing something different to the market, but the fans have shown that they gravitate to everything we do. It’s mind-blowing,” he says.
Carlo's Bakery, 8319 Preston Road