SEASIDE — Micheal Soprano spent the past two years building up his wholesale and custom clientele, making cakes, cupcakes and other baked goods; now he’s ready to take the operation to Main Street.
Well, North Holladay Drive, actually. Soprano plans to open Three Little Birds Bakery next to Beach Books in the Gilbert Block.
He hopes to have the store open by the end of March, in time to catch the Spring Break crowds.
Soprano and Beach Books owner Karen Emmerling may open the double doors between the stores.
“A book store and a bakery go perfect together,” he said.
He’s still working on the menu. He’s got the general menu worked out, but he’ll be rotating items on a regular basis.
“So it’s not going to be one set menu all the time,” he said. “A few things are going to have flavors of the week.”
He’s also soliciting menu suggestions on his Facebook page.
To avoid duplicating his neighbors’ offerings, he will not offer donuts or specialty coffee. He’ll have drip coffee, but not the espresso and other items offered across the street.
Staying true to his Italian heritage, he plans to offer cannoli and other Italian items you can’t find in town.
He also offers gluten-free, dairy-free and some vegan options.
Soprano continues to take orders for cakes and other items while he prepares to open the shop on Holladay. He specializes in cakes with flair.
There’s the golf course cake complete with putting green and the gingerbread castle under attack by a fire-breathing dragon.
In a bit of irony, he made a giant cupcake for a customer in Astoria. This wholesale customer stocked vanilla chai cupcakes for a coffee shop. Her daughter loved the cupcakes, so Soprano made a vanilla chai cupcake that was 10 inches in diameter and 10 inches tall.
“I’ve always been an artist growing up, and this is basically artistry with icing,” he said.
Visitors will be able to watch him decorate cakes at the bakery.
Soprano’s going all in as he adds the retail component to his business.
“I’m investing pretty much everything I’ve got,” he said. “I’m still working on some of the traditional financing as well.”
Soprano, a Navy veteran, also has access to funding as a disabled veteran.
He sought help as he’s built his business.
He received counseling from the Score mentoring office in Vancouver and from the Small Business Development Center office in Seaside.
The community has been supportive, he said. Word of mouth has proven to be his most effective marketing tool.
“Once people taste it, next thing I know a week later I get somebody saying, ‘I was at so and so’s party and had one of your cakes. I’ve got a birthday coming up; can you do mine?’”
The name of the business is a tribute to his favorite Bob Marley song and to his three daughters who happen to love birds. The song was playing on the Internet radio as he was putting the business plan together. The song finished and immediately started playing again.
He took it as a sign.
This North Carolina native and his wife met when he was in the Navy. She grew up in the Seaside area. The family moved here in 2006.
He had always enjoyed baking.
“My mother used to do all the family’s wedding cakes and all that,” he said, “and with me being the youngest, I was in the kitchen helping, and I learned a lot more than I thought I did.”
Baking stayed with him as he got older. After 10 years in the Navy, friends and family encouraged him to make a living with the mixer and the oven.
In addition to his other tasty menu items, his grandmother’s 100-year-old recipe for vanilla pound cake and southern desserts will likely make the list.
Soprano aims for a warm, homey feel to Three Little Birds Bakery when he opens in the Gilbert Block.
“I don’t want to be one of these modern upscale big-city bakeries,” he said. “I want you to feel like you’re having something at your mother’s house.”