Rachel Barbaro Arrieta never planned to open a bakery. She didn’t even think she was that good at baking. She studied restaurant management and event planning at Texas Tech University and worked briefly for a deejay and photographer. When she baked a cake for her mom’s 50th birthday, guests wondered where she’d had it made. That life-changing moment eventually led to Rachel opening Sugar Ray’s Bake Shop in Plano.
After that initial birthday cake, Rachel spent a copious amount of time testing recipes in the kitchen, and perfecting things like texture, creaminess, fluffiness, density and flavor. On a whim, she walked into Coffee House Café in Dallas and talked her way into a job handling cupcake delivery orders. Eventually, she picked up more delivery contracts here and there; her business grew enough that it was time to open her own storefront.
With help from her dad in 2013, she opened Sugar Ray’s Bake Shop and has created a sweet little empire built on cupcakes, cakes and macarons. With her business model of small batch baking, she is able to make different flavors available every day. There are a few consistent flavors and customers can always special order any flavor, but the beauty of small batch baking is that she doesn’t keep any product overnight. Anything purchased from the counter at Sugar Ray’s is fresh, baked that very morning. Rachel admits she donates a lot of leftover cupcakes at the end of the day, especially to the Fire Station where her husband works.
Sugar Ray’s offers workshops on how to make macarons. It’s a class size of six, and the intimate setting allows students to get one-on-one instruction time to perfect their macarons. Rachel also makes cakes, cookies and has recently added 3-D cakes to her repertoire.
“I never took a cooking class, it just comes naturally to me. Sometimes I laugh because my second in command actually did go to culinary school and together, we teach each other,” Rachel said. She was even featured on the Cooking Channel TV show, “Sugar Showdown,” which she said was a lot of fun.
Rachel’s absolute favorite flavor? Lemon ricotta. Other fan favorites are red velvet, milk chocolate hazelnut and cake batter. Customers love her flavors so much that they often trust her guidance when placing an order. If they have a specific event in mind, Rachel helps them choose a flavor that is sure to wow.
The first year the bakery was open, it was a family affair to get the business off the ground. Rachel’s mother, father and aunts all helped behind the counter while she was busy in the kitchen. Nowadays she has hired and trained more help, and her family has been able to retire from bakery life.
Sugar Ray’s Bake Shop just celebrated its fifth anniversary at Plano’s Lakeside Market, and Rachel says, “in five years, six days a week, it has never felt like work!”Sugar Ray's Bake Shop >