Dubuque bakery opens in new downtown storefront

A popular Dubuque dessert shop has opened in its new downtown location.

Candle Ready Cakes opened its main retail space Tuesday at 249 W. First St. The bakery is known for its custom cakes, cookies and myriad other sweet treats.

The bakery last year announced plans to move from its former location at 197 Main St., a short walk from its new home.

“We love the downtown area, so we knew if we were moving, we wanted to stay nearby,” said owner Jill Takosky. “This location was a blank space when we started. We could really make it our own, … and we’re just excited to share it (with customers).”

While the two storefronts are roughly the same size — about 3,400 square feet — Takosky said the new space has been reconfigured for more efficient usage.

The new kitchen is nearly four times larger than the former location, for example, allowing more workers to use the space at once. With the additional room, Takosky said, the goal is to bring on more staff and potentially add weekly or monthly specials.

“We’re hoping to bring in a few new products,” she said. “We have lots of ideas in our heads, but we’re going to get through opening (fully) first.”

The new storefront was rehabilitated as part of a roughly $1.3 million investment into the First Street building. Developer Chris Miller owns the two-story structure and also is renovating the second floor into apartments.

“I like to see small businesses expanding, and with this location, I think it’ll positively impact (Candle Ready Cakes’) visibility and vastly improve their foot traffic,” Miller said Tuesday.

Candle Ready Cakes first opened on Main Street in 2012 as a joint venture between Takosky and her mother, Beth Schrempf, who since has retired.

The bakery remained there for more than 10 years before the need for a larger kitchen eventually prompted the move. Takosky said the business in August moved to the new storefront, selling pre-packaged goods until the store was ready for its full opening Tuesday.

In addition to the larger kitchen, the First Street location also includes a large retail area and classroom for community classes and other events. A casual seating area also has been added to the store’s main retail space.

“We got rid of our seating at the old location during COVID,” Takosky explained. “We meant to add it back but never got around to it. We’re hoping (by adding it back), people can come in, sit down and socialize a little bit.”

The relocation was supported in part by $18,500 in funding received from Main Street Iowa’s Open 4 Business initiative, which supports business development and expansions in Main Street communities.

Dubuque Main Street last year selected Candle Ready Cakes as one of eight Dubuque applicants to compete in the program, and the bakery was named one of the top five competitors in the state.

Dubuque Main Street Event and Resource Specialist Laura Bertjens said Dubuque Main Street selected Candle Ready Cakes as its applicant because of Takosky’s commitment to supporting the downtown area and the bakery’s history of community engagement.

“It’s more than just picking up and dropping off orders there. It’s really a social, community experience,” Bertjens said. “We’re thrilled they decided to stay downtown … and proud of the growth they’ve had here as small entrepreneurs.”

Bertjens added that the bakery’s move also has had a sort of “ripple effect” in the downtown area. Its former storefront soon will be home to KINDER•ELLA, a children’s boutique run by MOM•ERELLA owner Anna Meadows.

Meadows also moved MOM•ERELLA, a shop aimed at new and expecting mothers, from 241 Main St. to the space behind the old Candle Ready Cakes location and opened a new women’s boutique, HEY GIRL, at the Main Street storefront.

Laura Klavitter owns and operates Planted., a plant shop near the new Candle Ready Cakes location. She and her staff have been watching the bakery’s progress with great anticipation, Klavitter said, calling the building’s renovations as a whole “a much needed facelift” for the block.

“We’re definitely looking forward to having them as neighbors,” she said. “That building has really turned into something beautiful. It’s almost like the face of Dubuque now because that’s the first thing you see (driving in on Locust).”

Candle Ready Cakes is open at its new location from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The bakery can be contacted via the Candle Ready Cakes Facebook page or by phone at 563-845-0794.