Orange Poppyseed Cupcake.

Four Courses of Dessert in SLC: City Cakes

Food: Interviews & Features

Salt Lake City is rich with an assortment of places to satisfy your sweet tooth. These featured dessert virtuosos present innovative ways to concoct all things whipped, sprinkled and glazed—some even mastering vegan and gluten-free options. With key sweet, salty and umami elements, City Cakes, Doki Doki, Fillings and Emulsions and Normal Ice Cream feature items that will skip stones across your palate.

City Cakes
SLC: 1860 S. 300 West, Ste. D • M–Sa.: 8a–8p | Su.: 8a–4p  801.359.2239
Draper: 192 E. 12300 South, Ste. A • M–F: 8a–8p | Su.: 11a–6p  801.572.5500
Responses from owner Nanette Wessels

SLUG: In achieving your dream of opening your own bakery in 2010, how did you also find your niche “specializing in vegan and gluten-free baked goods,” as your site states?

City Cakes: My son Neil was vegan and asked if I would also make vegan cakes because, other than a bakery in Woods Cross, there was no one making professionally decorated vegan cakes in Salt Lake. I opened the doors and was embraced by the vegan community. My traditional products were not selling as well as the vegan products. I stopped making the traditional products and focused on the vegan. I had requests from customers to make gluten-free products. I took some of my vegan recipes and converted them to gluten-free, and it worked.

SLUG: From 2010 to now, how have you grown with your menu options?

City Cakes: We started making vegan food items because I was asked for more savory products. We try to add new baked goods every year.

Photo: Talyn Sherer
Photo: Talyn Sherer

SLUG: With your panoply of bakery options, what seems to be at the fore of the City Cakes craft is the cakes. From delicately created flowers adorning them to smooth or textural frosting on each layer, what about creating a cake speaks to you?

City Cakes: Cake-decorating is an art, and I love to be creative. We have very talented decorators that can create exactly what the customer is asking for out of buttercream.

SLUG: What have your victories been in baking vegan/gluten-free cakes at City Cakes?

Photo: Talyn Sherer

City Cakes: Our victory is our growth. Having the demand for our product has enabled us to be in Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Harmons, Even Stevens and 22 other locations in Utah. It makes us so happy that customers enjoy our products.

SLUG: How do special cake orders work? What is possible with a custom-cake order?

City Cakes: Customers place an order 72 hours in advance by calling, emailing or going into one of our locations. They can show the decorator a picture or just share what they are looking for, and our decorators will design and create it for them. People ask why it takes 72 hours. We make our cakes from scratch and to order, so it goes into baker’s production and then scheduled into decorator’s production.

SLUG: What other kinds of offerings excite you the most at City Cakes? What is new that we should know about?

City Cakes: Our gluten-free vegan donuts are very popular, and we loved making new flavors. We now make a Gluten Free Vegan Cinnamon Coffee Cake. So many customers talk about how long it’s been since they had a good

coffee cake.

SLUG: Where all can cake- and pastry-seekers find your tasty vegan and gluten-free treats? Which stockists/restaurants?

City Cakes: Whole Foods – 4 in Utah; Natural Grocers – 6 in Utah; Harmons – 17 stores in Utah; Even Stevens – I think 6 states now; as well as Publik locations, Alchemy, Nostalgia, Coffee Garden, Tinkers, Sliver King, Booster Juice, Utah Natural History Museum, to name a few. 

SLUG: What kind of reused/compostable materials do you use at your cafe, and what does your recycling program entail?

City Cakes: We use the Eco Brand compostable products. We recycle all our cardboard at the retail locations. At our production facility, we recycle cardboard, plastic, cans and glass.

SLUG: Your move to 1860 S 300 W in SLC is fairly recent. What does the new location offer, and what is the atmosphere of it like?

City Cakes: We moved our location from Main Street because we needed a dock where US Foods and Sysco trucks could pick up. We ended up splitting the retail off from the production facility to make it work. It was a big change, but the feel of the retail stores are

Photo: Talyn Sherer
Photo: Talyn Sherer

much more of a cake and pastry shop, which is who we are.

SLUG: Over time, you expanded into Draper. What beckoned City Cakes to Draper? What are further plans to expand?

City Cakes: We wanted to get farther south, since we had so many customers telling us they drive up from Utah County. We are focusing on wholesale growth right now and hope to open more retail locations in the future.

“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” –Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly