During the next few months, silver creative will be rolling out a series of local business profiles from the SoNo community. For our first installment, we chose to interview Rafael Ramirez, the man behind Rafael’s Cakes & Sugars at 79 N. Main Street. Rafael’s pastries and cakes are the best in the area, he even supplies some of the top restaurants in Fairfield County with gourmet desserts. He is passionate about SoNo and provides the community with a resource that is imperative to creative process: Coffee.
Growing up in Santo Domingo, Rafael spent most of his childhood baking alongside his grandmother. He developed his skills, recipes, and passion for baking during that time and eventually decided to continue his education under Rita Fermin, a reputable cake decorator in Santo Domingo. Rita taught him how to refine his process and incorporate some finesse and personal style to his creations. After ten years of training with Rita, Rafael came to the US to work toward his goal of opening his own bakery. For another ten years, Rafael continued to improve his skills while teaching and baking as much as possible, until he was finally ready to open his store.
Rafael Cakes & Sugar features complex cake flavors and intricate sugar work. All of the cakes are specially prepared from scratch with the sugar and icing details hand done by Rafael himself. His customers love that all his work is unique. Each cake is custom made and personalized for the specific occasion or event.
Silver creative had the opportunity to interview Rafael and gain some insight into his SoNo business. Here’s what he had to say….
What is the concept behind your logo?
The logo features my signature design. The design is known as Cornelli Lace. It’s an intricate piping detail for cakes and the signature design for my store. It’s very tedious and complex but when done well, it is beautiful!
Do you have any new developments in the works?
The biggest developments are the growth of my coffee business and my partnership with local restaurants.
I now offer BonJo coffee in store. Before bringing BonJo in, I was just taking regular coffee and tweaking it to make it flavorful for the customer. I realized that if I offer these wonderful homemade pastries, then I need a great cup of coffee to go with it and complete the experience. I decided to partner up with an associate from BonJo coffee and bring their brand to my bakery. The coffee that I offer is their signature coffee and I know the flavor is perfect to blend with my pastries.
I also recently started partnering up with local SoNo restaurants to provide cakes for them to sell as dessert. Now that my cakes are featured in the restaurant Mama’s Boy, they can be enjoyed by a larger customer base. With more people trying my product, I’m hoping to drive some new business to my store. I don’t just make a basic cake either. I sit down with the manager and head chef to create a line of cakes that will best fit that seasons’ menu. I want to make sure that my cakes balance with the food the restaurant offers.
What is one thing you want a customer to remember when they visit?
I want my customers to know that the cakes I produce are specialty cakes. No two cakes are alike. Each cake is handmade from scratch and designed specifically for the occasion. My flavors are unique and I try to constantly tweak them and make them better. I might find that my chocolate cake gains a tasty flavor note with the addition of a new ingredient, so I’ll change the recipe to ensure I’m producing the best cake possible.
What is the best part about being located in SoNo?
SoNo appreciates quality and it rewards those who offer a quality product. The opportunities in SoNo are always expanding and that allows me to expand my business as well. I can offer that homemade touch that people crave in their pastries. When the customer walks in for the first time, they want it to feel like they are walking into a true kitchen. My ovens are exposed, and the work is done in plain site. This shows the customer that the food is truly homemade, which is something you can’t always find in a city. Then when a customer returns, I aim to remember their faces and orders so that I can keep a high quality of service to match my high quality pastries and coffees.
Are there any special plans that you would like people to know about?
Rafael Cakes and Sugar is going to open earlier. The plan is to open at 7 am and offer some new savory breakfast pastries. One pastry I will be featuring is a homemade croissant. I’ll be offering an array of croissants such as; ham and asiago, turkey and bacon, spinach and ricotta, chocolate and plain.