Interview - Sweethearts Cakes & Cookies
Sweethearts Cakes & Cookies is churning out gorgeous, high quality, high value cakes, slices, cookies and muffins to the gourmet café market. We had a chat with the boys behind the business and learned why ready-made is the new black in café circles.
Starting in their small kitchen from home in 1996, three loving ‘fathers’(Darren Faiman, Stan Levine & Anton Levine) ‘gave birth’ to Sweethearts Cakes and Cookies and began by making brownies and two other gourmet slices for Melbourne’s world famous gourmet cafe market. The Sweethearts' boys quickly realised that cafe operators and caterers no longer wanted to stock similar product to roadhouse or takeaway shops and were getting so time-strapped with day to day business operations that they were in dire need of outsourcing their range of cakes, muffins, cookies etc to maintain a full range to offer their customers.
Melbourne's Sweethearts responded to this market need by developing a range of cost effective cakes, cookies, muffins and slices that was better for cafe operators and caterers than making them themselves! Thus they are meeting the demands of the thriving cafe operator in Melbourne's world famous cafe market. They have carved out a niche for themselves and are market leaders to this day, constantly adding and upgrading products to suit the needs of cafe operators, caterers and party makers alike. Sweethearts’ saves clients time and money and gives caterers access to the 'just like you made yourself' sweet products, without the hassles of making them in-house or having to employ staff and endure stock and storage issues. Outsourcing demands have naturally grown every year since.
FFW: Was Sweethearts really established by three Dads?
SWEETHEARTS: Actually one dad and 2 boys (who were later to become dads) but we were all the ‘founding fathers’.
FFW: What were the first products offered by Sweethearts Cakes & Cookies?
SWEETHEARTS: New York Brownies and Macadamia Blondies; they were made in our small home kitchen in the early hours of the morning and we had to keep the mixer very quiet and not switch it on until 7am when mum was up for work.
FFW: Can you explain how your cake portions came about?
SWEETHEARTS: Café owners didn’t have time to cut up portions or they were finding their staff were not cutting consistent slices so we thought it was a good idea to provide it ready to serve to save them the hassle and waste issues.
FFW: What are the benefits in business owners buying ready-made cakes, cookies, muffins and other sweets from Sweethearts instead of making them in house?
SWEETHEARTS: We quickly realised that the busy successful cafes had an ever increasing range of products on display for their customers but this then often meant more staff, more ingredients, more waste and they had to keep altering this for an ever increasing or rotating menu/display. We decided to offer them a way to buy all this ready to go product with no need for staff, no need to buy ingredients, no wastage, no issues with stock planning or production and the option to order in as little or as much and as many varieties as they liked of product that looks just like they made it themselves, all with next day free delivery! It’s actually a godsend to the busy café operator!
FFW: What stands Sweethearts above competitors in the eyes of your customers?
SWEETHEARTS: People seem to really love the fact that we offer a product that is premium looking with café appeal but still looks potentially like it was made on site, fresh each day – plus our amazing discount specials make it simply unviable to make it themselves or buy it elsewhere!
FFW: Do you offer any gluten free products?
SWEETHEARTS: Yes we are meeting this growing demand with gluten free cookies and also macarons which are hugely popular and we can do any gluten free products on request.
FFW: What kinds of retailers are selling Sweethearts products? Who is selling what?
SWEETHEARTS: Most leading cafes in urban, regional and major shipping centres in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Darwin, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine coast are stocking and selling Sweethearts’ products, either exclusively or as an added mix into their current offering to give it a fresh, vibrant and eye catching appeal. Basically anywhere a good coffee is being served is where you’ll find Sweethearts’ products. Many areas are still just noticing Sweethearts’ product appeal as new and exciting and they are constantly getting enquiries from many areas so new distributors are needed to meet the growing demand.
FFW: What sort of feedback do you receive from retailers, hospitality businesses and end consumers?
SWEETHEARTS: Retailers, food businesses and end users alike really love the regular specials we offer them and they really love the extra level of difference we put into our products to give the look and the taste experience that wow factor.
FFW: What virtues does Sweethearts boast by way of illustrating the company’s high standards?
SWEETHEARTS: Sweethearts is audited every six months by external agencies for HACCP and Spotless Standard and we regularly achieve an excellent result. We maintain this with good systems and very loyal, reliable staff.
FFW: Aside from cafes and restaurants, what other foodservice businesses are buying their products from Sweethearts?
SWEETHEARTS: You’ll find cafes or café concepts popping up everywhere, including hospitals, universities and even milk bars and anywhere a good coffee is being served you’ll see the demand for Sweethearts’ products.
FFW: Are there any exceptionally busy times of the year for Sweethearts?
SWEETHEARTS: People generally go out more in the warmer months but eat more in the cooler months so most of the year is pretty stable when it comes to demand.
FFW: Who would provide a dream endorsement for Sweethearts Cakes & Cookies?
SWEETHEARTS: Eddie McGuire (Collingwood Football Club President, Triple M and media personality) and Gary Meaghan (Masterchef judge), can both be seen to have enjoyed Sweethearts on our website www.cakesandcookies.com.au as have countless other famous people, or top businesses around the country.
FFW: How do you make doing business with you easy for your clients?
SWEETHEARTS: Simple, easy ordering via your preferred method (fax, email, phone, SMS) and simple one stop shopping and easy next day delivery to most areas.
FFW: Are there any new products on the horizon; new flavours; new lines?
SWEETHEARTS: Yes we’ve just recently released an amazing Chocolate and Peanut Butter Crunch Slice and a Nutella Muffin. Also the French Macarons are going crazy as well are the Truffle Logs. We also have a new Jelly Cheesecake Slice, Lamingtons and our new dessert range is really selling like hotcakes. We are about to release some more exciting new products, but if I tell you, then you know what I’ll have to do…
FFW: Well on that note, we guess we’ll have to wait and see! Meanwhile, we’d like to encourage you to give Sweethearts Cakes & Cookies a call to order your first delivery or wickedly delicious, time- and money-saving wholesale cakes, cookies and slices.