There’s a new destination for flowers, sweet treats and gifts in West Alls. And it’s opening just in time for Valentine’s Day weekend.
Piece of Love Cake & Gifts has launched its soft opening at 6768 W. Lincoln Ave. in the former home of Treasure Pickers.
The shop, which carries fresh floral arrangements, chocolate covered strawberries, balloons and balloon arrangements and cake pops (with full-sized cakes on the way later this spring), is owned by Ana Gonzalez, an entrepreneur who launched a home-based business three years ago, offering floral arrangements and chocolate covered strawberries to friends and family.
“At the time my daughter was one years old,” she says, “And I wanted to be able to spend more time with her at home.”
As her business grew, Gonzalez – who had also developed a reputation among her family for baking cakes – began getting requests for her work from relatives.
“About six months after launching my business, my sister asked me to bake a cake for my nephew’s birthday. I spent hours on it, and everyone at the party loved it.”
Requests for her home-baked cakes flooded in, and Gonzalez says she realized there was a market for her creations.
“I watched YouTube tutorials and baked and experimented like crazy,” she says. “And about a year ago, I decided to quit my full-time job and pursue my business full time.”
Gonzalez, whose background includes business classes at MATC, as well as five years with Panda Express, where she worked her way up from general manager to training leader. From there, she says she took a position with Qdoba corporate to glean a behind the scenes view of business operations.
“At that point,” she says, “I felt like I had all the skills I needed to launch my own business. But it was also a really big decision because I had insurance and steady income that supported my family.”
Nonetheless, she took the leap last fall, working with local realtor Veronica Ramirez to find a space for her shop and securing a Kiva loan in November to cover start-up costs.
From there, they began the work to renovate the shop, adding new flooring, paint and framing out the space which will soon house a commercial kitchen that Gonzalez will use for baking cakes.
When the kitchen is up and running, customers will also be able to order custom decorated cakes. Choices will include vanilla, classic chocolate, strawberry, tres leches, butter pecan, red velvet or marble, as well as filliings.
From there, Gonzalez says she can add custom touches including edible or fresh flowers, figurines, balloons or personalized cake toppers. Pricing will start at $25 for an 8-inch round cake. Sheet cakes start at $25 and go up to $157 for a full sheet cake that feeds up to 80.
The name for the business, Gonzalez says, has a double meaing.
“I love what I do,” she says. “I love making beautiful things for others and I’m giving them a piece of love in everthing I do. But it goes both ways. When people buy things from me to give to others, they are also sharing a piece of that love.”
Gonzalez says she couldn’t be happier to see her dream come to fruition.
“I had big plans and a vision for this, but I couldn’t have done this alone,” she says. “You need people to share your vision and help you make it come true.
“My mom and my family have been so supportive, and my husband [Jose Estrada] has been amazing, from taking care of our daughter to dedicating himself wholeheartedly to my dream. Veronica [Ramirez] has become like family to me. I couldn’t have done it without their help.”
Gonzalez says she hopes to grow the business enough that she can give back to others.
“I’d love to be able to provide jobs for others,” she says, “As well as giving them experience with financial and business management so that they can take those skills and follow their own dreams.”
Piece of Love is open daily from 10:30 to 7 p.m. For now, guests will find the largest selection of items at the shop; but Gonzalez says her online store will provide another route for online ordering and pick-up moving forward. For those who visit, parking is available in the lot to the West of the shop.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.