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On April 15th, Sift Dessert Bar celebrated our 10-year anniversary, and what a decade it’s been. We’ve come such a long way since our first shop opened in Cotati. Owner Andrea Ballus found so much to learn and love along the way. She shares some of her thoughts below!
In the beginning, there was an obsession with finding the perfect cream cheese frosting and vanilla cake. That obsession turned into days, weeks, and months of experimentation to find the perfect balance of fluffy crumb and moist texture. Once Andrea finally had it locked down, it was time to take the next step: open a cupcake bakery, of course! The menu grew, and the red velvet was a particular favorite of the early taste testers (which were mainly friends and family at the time).
Ten years ago, cupcakes were seeing a kind of renaissance. You couldn’t turn around without seeing another place trying to crack the cupcake code, or an experimental cupcake on a menu, or a cupcake in a jar, or a cupcake show on television. In fact, Sift itself made a mark on the map by appearing on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars for the first time in 2011 and walking away a winner. We appeared on Food Network three times, and Andrea recalls, “Boy, was it hard work being on a show like that!” Since that first airing, Sift opened two more stores and worked hard to make the transition from cupcakery to full-fledged dessert bar. Customers were always begging for delicious new cupcakes, but they wanted to see how Sift could treat other desserts, too, and we were happy to rise to the challenge.
Sift got its start right in the heart of Northern California wine country, and it’s impossible to forget our roots. Nor would we ever want to! The Sonoma and Napa wine country communities have always displayed a fierce sort of loyalty, supporting local businesses and acting as the backbone to Sift from Day One. It’s thanks to this community that we were able to grow to four stores in only five years. As Andrea says, “We never want to let them down, so we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be able to continue to bring value through the creation of fun and delicious desserts served with a great customer experience. We feel that if we can continue to serve our customers in this way, we’ll be around for a long time!”
Dessert isn’t all that’s in store for Sift in 2018, however. This year, our team is taking a step into a brand new area by opening a wine bar called The Jade Room in downtown Santa Rosa. Making the transition from giving customers an experience that they can take and enjoy at home to one that involves hosting groups in a lounge and giving them a memorable encounter will be different, but we strongly believe that hospitality is key. Our success has always come from carefully creating a great experience for our guests, and that’s a philosophy we can stick with regardless of whether we’re handing over a cupcake or pouring a glass of wine. We’re challenging ourselves to create an experience that leaves guests wanting to come back with friends, family, and coworkers time and time again.
Although it’s been ten years of constant work and learning, there’s still so much more to learn, and we’re looking forward to it. When Andrea founded Sift, she and her team really didn’t know much about running a business. Through the years, we’ve learned and grown so much thanks to customer feedback and advisors, and we’ve never been too proud to ask for help. We’re so excited to continue learning something new every single day!
In the coming years, you can expect to see Sift continue to expand throughout the Bay Area, but we’re in no rush to go exponential. Our goal has always been to create a warm, welcoming business that’s growing the right way, with the right people. For as long as we exist, we’ll make sure that our customers are leaving our shops and restaurants with wonderful memories. For all the places we can’t be, we’ll ship cupcakes and other desserts wherever they’ll bring someone a smile.