Donations help small cake shop stay open after burglaryOct 04, 2021 01:33PM ● By Sarah Morton Taggart
Conte de Fée Cakes offers unique and beautiful baked goods for all occasions. (Sarah Morton Taggart/City Journals)
By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]
When Saikhantuya Ganbold was helping her mother and her friend open a cake shop, they wanted to come up with the perfect name. They decided on “conte de fée,” which means “fairy tale” in French.
And just like in a fairy tale, the owners of the little shop showed kindness, faced an obstacle, and found a happy ending—though in this case the villain remains unpunished.
The shop opened on Jan. 18 at 7695 S. 700 East, where a Subway used to be. They renovated, creating a stylish yet cozy space that takes advantage of the natural light streaming in from the south and west windows.
“We just wanted to bring different flavors and tastes,” Ganbold said. “We went to different bake shops and didn’t find what we had at home. Asian tastes are a little different. Cakes are less sweet, and they’re light and fluffy.”
Ganbold and her mother, Bayasgalan Purevdorj, both grew up in Mongolia. Co-owner Ai Tanaka is from Japan, and together they have created desserts that are unique and appreciated.
One customer, using the handle Nathan C., left a review saying that his family had searched all over for a bakery that could make a chestnut cake that his mother remembered from her childhood in Hong Kong. They came across Conte de Fée, which was able to create the right flavor just from the description and a photo found online.
Finding success after being open for just over six months, the bake shop decided to organize a fundraiser.
“We have lost a lot of our loved ones during this difficult time and have shed many tears,” Ganbold said in an Instagram post. “And yesterday we have lost another great soul. So that’s why we have come to this decision. All our profits from our flower cupcakes will be donated to the families of the people we have lost….We just opened so we are skeptical about how much we can make, but we believe it’s better than nothing.”
Not long after that, the cake shop organized another fundraiser—this time to keep the shop from closing.
On Sept. 4, Tanaka arrived at the shop and noticed something glittering on the floor. At first she thought it was ice, but then realized it was glass from a shattered window pane. A quick look around showed that someone had rummaged behind the counter, so she went back outside and called the police.
The thief took nearly everything of value—cash, equipment, ingredients and finished cakes—as well as things of little value, like a leaky bucket.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do with all that butter,” Ganbold said. “They even took all the Halloween cookies. It’s like they took a bag and went shopping.”
Some items remained when Tanaka arrived at the shop, but the fridge door had been left open and the cakes left inside were spoiled.
“The most difficult thing was that we’re so busy during the weekend, and a lot of preorders ready for pick up were gone,” Ganbold said. “It ruined our whole schedule. People were so nice, but we wanted to get the stuff ready. Even though we were in shock, the most important thing was that we (replace the orders).”
Tanaka and Purevdorj managed to replace the stolen cakes that had been meant for birthday celebrations and a wedding, but had little left to sell in the shop. They chose to shorten their hours and close for several days.
“People told us to do a GoFundMe,” Ganbold said. “We felt embarrassed, but thought that if people want to help us, they can.”
In the first 18 hours, the campaign raised $700. Within a few days, 32 individuals had donated $2,135—more than doubling the cake shop’s goal and allowing them to reopen within a week.
They have been able to replace much of what was stolen, but some tools, special teas and ingredients are more difficult to come by. Even before the theft, the bakers struggled to find the right ingredients to make the items they wanted.
“A main struggle we have is that the fruits in Asia are different,” Ganbold said. “The strawberries in Japan are sweeter. In America they’re more sour. When we use the strawberries here we have to use more sugar.”
“Mongolia is not known for its sweet stuff,” Ganbold continued. “We eat Russian desserts, like the Napoleon.”
Ganbold came to the United States from Mongolia in her late teens, and her mother joined her four or five years later. Ganbold received a bachelor of business administration from Utah Valley University and handles marketing for the shop.
The sense for business runs in the family.
“My mom used to own so many different businesses,” Ganbold said. “She’s pretty experienced. She owned grocery stores and a karaoke place back in Mongolia. She’s liked baking since she was a little girl.”
Tanaka majored in accounting at UVU and also loves to bake.
“When we had a time to hang out we would always bake something,” Ganbold said.
Another distinctive feature of the shop is its logo featuring the silhouette of a black French bulldog named Coffee.
“Technically, he’s my little sister’s dog but we all love him,” Ganbold said. “He loves food more than anything. Before we opened, we brought him to the space and he ran straight to the kitchen as if to say, ‘Hey! This is my cafe.’”
Coffee the dog is in fact a co-owner. “He has a 1% share in the store,” Ganbold said with a laugh.
Conte de Fée plans to have a special promotion in honor of Coffee the dog on his second birthday, Oct. 18.
In spite of the smiles, Ganbold, Purevdorj and Tanaka don’t feel as safe in the shop as they did before the robbery. A week after the break-in they installed cameras and a security system, but they still feel the need to be extra cautious when working late.
“We used to love those windows,” Ganbold said. “Now I feel like someone’s watching us.”