- Jan 30, 2023
Franchise of the Year: Nothing Bundt Cakes – Deerfield
“You can always say it’s not the right time, but then it will never be the right time.” Neil and Bonnie Goldberg confronted that reality and took the plunge into business ownership at a particularly challenging time when they purchased an existing Nothing Bundt Cakes franchise in 2020. Despite all the obstacles starting a new entrepreneurial career during the pandemic, this husband-and-wife team have persevered to develop a growing base of loyal customers.
“I always had the dream to one day have a business of my own,” explains Neil. “Bonnie shared that dream; she thought it would be great to have a family business.”
Looking at their pre-franchise resumes, the bakery business would not seem to be an obvious choice for the Goldbergs. Bonnie had an established career as a nurse, while Neil’s background was in commercial real estate management. However, Neil’s experience with retail centers had given him an education in the qualities that helped small businesses succeed – or not. When they were ready to research franchise opportunities, they were attracted to the Nothing Bundt Cakes because of its particularly positive nature.
“It’s a business where you’re bringing joy,” says Neil. “People are coming to you to celebrate happy occasions. It also affords you the opportunity to engage in fundraising and community activities that are very important to us.”
Launched in 1997 as a home-based business in Las Vegas, the Nothing Bundt Cakes brand has grown to over 430 bakery locations across the US and Canada. When Neil and Bonnie inquired about franchise opportunities in early 2020, they were excited to discover that the only available bakery in Illinois was the existing store on Waukegan Road in Deerfield – virtually in the Goldbergs’ backyard.
“It just seemed like it was meant to be. Not only would it be a mom-and-pop type business, but it would be truly local where we were already in the community,” recalls Neil.
The match-made-in-heaven hit a bump when COVID started just as the family was negotiating the purchase of the store, but the Goldbergs forged ahead. Neil and his stepdaughter completed four weeks of training at a Chicago NBC location during the summer of 2020, with Neil still working his property management job. They officially took ownership of the Deerfield store in September, and Neil rapidly gained visibility by bringing delicious products to a wide variety of community events.
“The company stresses that the best marketing strategy is getting cake in mouths,” laughs Neil. Participating in school fundraisers and similar programs achieves dual goals: building positive relationships in the community while enabling more families to sample their cakes. All their cakes and frostings are prepared in-house from proprietary recipes, with 11 flavors available in Bundtini, Bundtlet, and full-size Bundt cake sizes. Chamber members enjoyed samples of their treats at last year’s Auction & Taste.
As they enter 2023, the Goldbergs have seen year-to-year growth in sales and Bonnie has left her full-time nursing job to be the store’s head baker. “It’s a very different experience from the cooking I’ve done in the past,” acknowledges Bonnie. “We’re making everything from scratch, and you need to be very precise to be sure it comes out perfectly.”
They also are working to grow the corporate gifting side of the business. They credit the Chamber with helping to build connections that can lead to new customers, as well as support from ambassadors and fellow members.
Bonnie reflects that, for all its challenges, the business has been personally meaningful. This was especially true in the wake of a family tragedy that occurred in 2022 just as Bonnie was transitioning to her role in the store. “I’m so glad that we have the opportunity to work together and support each other,” she says.
“I could probably work fewer hours and make more money doing something else,” adds Neil, “but this is really rewarding.”