In the Celebration Business
When customers walk into June’s Cakery, they can expect to be greeted with a big smile and an even bigger “Hi, honey” from owner Ella Buchanan. The cakery on East Division Street in Springfield, Mo., has been a staple in the community for more than 40 years.
Named for Ella’s mother, Ella’s parents, Gordon and June Buchanan, built June’s Cakery from the ground up – literally.
“My dad built this building,” Ella said. “Mom started off making cakes after taking a class at the old Graph Vo-Tech. She did it from home, but a neighbor turned her in for having a business in a residential area. Dad told her to find a place to rent and see how it went. They rented a little place at Cherry Street and Glenstone Avenue in Springfield, Mo., for 18 months. After the first six months, she was in the black $50 or $60, but she had to buy pans and everything to start up. Daddy then bought this property and built this building. We’re the oldest cake shop in Springfield.”
Gordon passed away in 1988, followed by June in 1996, but June’s Cakery continues.
“I had always worked with Mom as a kid and I was blessed that I got to work full-time with her for 18 years, so I’ve done this a couple of days,” Ella said. “There came a time after Mom passed where there had to be a decision; sell it for pennies on the dollar or keep it going. Daddy build the building for her, putting his love and heart into it, and she did the same thing. I just couldn’t let it go.”
Ella has kept June’s Cakery much like her mother did, including the old double oven/range her mother used.
“People ask why I don’t get a commercial oven,” Ella said as she pulled a lemon bunt cake from the top oven. “I don’t need one. This oven is level, it’s true and I know what I’m dealing with.”
June’s Cakery has generations of faithful customers who continue to seek out Ella’s creations for special occasions.
“I’m doing cakes for weddings and my mom did their grandparents’ wedding cake,” Ella said. “They will come in to order their wedding cakes and I have done their birthday cakes their whole lives. This is a good business because you get to deal with the good side of life. People don’t need decorated cakes for bad things. Mom used to say that and it’s so true. You get to make people happy in this business. People come in here looking for something to celebrate.”
June’s Cakery has also made very large, extravagant cakes for special events, including a scaled replica of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo., and a cake to celebrate the 1976 Bicentennial.
“A group of Marines had to carry it in,” Ella recalled. “It fed almost 3,200 people. It was huge.”
One of the Ella’s most requested speciality items is a butter toffee crunch, which is only available between Halloween and Valentine’s Day.
“Last year I made 140 pounds of it,” she said. “I have people ask if it’s cool enough to have crunch yet.”
Today, Ella and her friend and employee, Tina Akins, make about than 100 tiered cakes annually, as well as countless smaller cakes, cookies and other treats.
What sets June’s Cakery apart from other bakeries in the area?
“Everything is made to order,” Ella said. “I don’t have anything for a counter service like other bakeries would have. Everything is custom made and made fresh. My cakes never see a freezer. Everything is baked to order, and nothing comes in to me in a box. I promise my cakes have seen the inside of an oven within 36 hours. We just offer a quality product.”
June’s Cakery also offers a complete line of cake decorating supplies, and would-be cake decorators can take classes.
As Ella approaches retirement age, she knows one day she’ll have to make decisions about the business her parents began 43 years ago. However, she won’t let just anyone take over.
“I will not have my mom’s name used on something that isn’t the best,” Ella said. “We have worked out butts off for more than 40 years to build a good reputation. We take pride in our work. Mother started this by not letting anything go out that door that we wouldn’t take home and put on our table. I will throw a cake away if I’m not happy with the way it bakes.”
Ella hopes her late parents are proud of how the business is going.
“I used to tell Mom that I was just here for her, but she knew better,” Ella said. “I know my dad is proud because he was a strong believer in hard work and making your own way.”