There have been a couple of grand openings this week that I’ve gone to, and how each company presented itself will prove, in the long run, just how successful each one of these companies might be. It also offers an interesting contrast because one company is local and small, whereas the other one is international and large; I’m betting you know which is which by the title.

She Takes The Cake is the brain child of Jennifer Comfort, which is the perfect name for what she does. What she does is make cake, but she’s no mere baker. As you can tell from the image, she makes specialty cakes for all occasions, with designs that most of us aren’t used to seeing on cakes. Sure, anyone can use frosting to create some neat images; Jen takes it one step further. As someone with a graphic design background, she actually makes each cake a work of art. How she does it,… well, I’m the wrong guy to ask, but the results are amazing.

I decided to stop by for a visit, which makes sense because not only do I like to support new businesses whenever possible, but I love cake. It took close to 30 minutes to get there, and thank goodness for GPS. Her storefront is located in Manlius, a far cry from being located in Otselic Center (wherever that is). She moved because, like me, most people had no idea where that was, plus what she likes to do for her clients is have samples of her baking so they can see if they like her product.

Of course, as you see in this image, these are the types of samples she had, as well as samples of cupcakes and, my favorite, chocolate chip cookies, which I didn’t get a picture of. But this isn’t a bakery, so she doesn’t always have these items on hand in quantity. She does hold office hours, and when she meets clients by appointment, she’ll always bring something along.

I had very briefly met Jen when we met at what’s known as a “tweetup”, which means a gathering of people who have talked to each other on Twitter, so this was the first time we really got to talk to each other. She’s a very engaging person, and it turns out we have a lot of things in common. I got to see how she interacted with potential customers, and I think she will do great in this business. To make the fancy patterns, she uses something called fondant, which I’d only heard the word for about a week ago, but now have a better understanding of.

Turns out she makes her own, and what it allows is for her to actually put her designs on the cake, something that can’t be done with regular buttercreme frosting. I got to taste a sample of that and it’s pretty good; not as good as traditional frosting, but good nonetheless.

She’s open every day this week because it’s open house week, but her normal store front hours will be Mondays from 9AM – 2PM, and Wednesdays from 5PM to 7PM. The address is 8195 Cazenovia Road; for those familiar with Manlius, you may know it as Route 92. The GPS didn’t like Route 92; go figure. Jen is very engaging, and everything that a business person should be.

Now let’s talk about Tim Horton’s, which is a large chain of restaurants; I’m using that term literally, since, in my opinion, it’s like calling Dunkin’ Donuts a restaurant. And, to a large degree, that’s what Tim Horton’s reminds me of, as this was my first experience with one. There was the grand opening at their location on Route 11 in North Syracuse, and they were giving away free chicken wraps; who wouldn’t want to check out free food?

I can’t say it was crowded when we got there, but it got crowded pretty quickly once we were there. That’s because there’s nothing fast about Tim Horton’s. With only 3 people in front of us, it took close to 5 minutes before we could order. One of the local radio stations had a couple of people there, but they weren’t broadcasting live from that location, as I guess there was another Tim Horton’s across town that was also having their grand opening. The lag gave us time to look around to see what this place had to offer, and mainly it’s coffee and donuts, hence the Dunkin’ Donuts comparison.

When we finally got to the front to order, we were informed that they were giving away free chicken wraps, but that they’d run out of chicken, so we were given coupons for free wraps at another time. Let’s see, you have a grand opening, know you’re giving away free food during a job shortage, and you run out of your main product? That doesn’t bode well for the future, and it’s a terrible introduction. My wife ordered a turkey club, only to be told that they were out of lettuce. I ordered a ham sandwich, asking them to hold the cheese, and to toast my sandwich. I also ordered a cinnamon bun, which had my attention early.

It took another seven minutes to get our food, and initially, they’d forgotten to give me the cinnamon bun. When we finally got our food, we went out to my car, as we’d ordered it to go since there were no clean tables to sit at. I opened my sandwich and saw that they had put cheese on it. No biggie, as I took it off. Then I touched the ham; it was almost freezing. When one asks for the bread to be toasted, I guess making an assumption that they’d also warm up the meat is a bad thing. I guess I’ve been spoiled by ordering toasted sandwiches at Subway. And they had put some kind of honey mustard on the sandwich, and that’s my fault for not asking for mayonnaise. Still, I only made it through two bites before deciding that my teeth couldn’t handle the meat being that cold, so I’ve got it home and will probably toast it later and put my own toppings on it. My wife’s sandwich was also cold, as she’d also ordered toasted, but she was hungry and made it through.

As for the cinnamon bun,… well, I have to say that it was very tasty, but they probably should have called it a frosted donut because I couldn’t taste any cinnamon at all. One might say that the icing overpowered the cinnamon, but that doesn’t seem to hold true for other cinnamon buns I’ve had, like those from Cinnabon (yeah, I love those). But it was delicious, soft, and warm, so I enjoyed it anyway. As for coffee,… well, neither my wife or I drink coffee, so I can’t comment on that.

If this is indicative of how Tim Horton’s usually runs, I can’t see myself going back, because it takes more than cinnamon buns that don’t have cinnamon in them to get me to drive across town. It’s not that people weren’t friendly, but efficiency wasn’t there, and running out of items when you’re a big chain is never a good thing; can you imagine a McDonald’s running out of fish? It could be growing pains, but one would expect that a major chain like this one has gone through this type of thing often, and would know better. I was greatly disappointed in the experience.

Maybe they need to call Jen to ask them how to make a cinnamon bun with cinnamon in it; I might have to ask her about that one.