In breaking cake news, Butter& has snagged the keys to its first official bakery storefront, slated to open this summer in Dogpatch. Pastry fans already know and love these stunning buttercream cakes, often featuring exposed sides and pretty florals, and modern flavors that are never too sweet. For the past few years, if you wanted to try a Butter& cake, you had to place a preorder and pick it up — or get lucky and run into one at a party. But now, the cake operation is moving into that newish building in Dogpatch, formerly home to first Noon All Day, then temporarily Kin Khao during the pandemic. It’s a modern space encased in glass, all too perfect to showcase the cake. So soon you’ll be able to pull up to the curb to pick up a full cake for a party, or sit down on the sunny plaza with a baby cake and cup of tea.
Amanda Nguyen owns both Butter& and Pastel, and she first started baking cakes out of her apartment in this neighborhood four years ago. She and her life and business partner Ted Moran have been looking for a permanent home for Butter& since fall 2020, so they’ve been searching for almost two years, and started up a second company in the interim. They scouted locations in Mission and Potrero, but Nguyen says they’re thrilled to stay in the Dogpatch, which they consider home. She never imagined a retail storefront as the ultimate goal, but after four years of baking out of an apartment kitchen, then a shared kitchen, then on a precarious sublease, the team is excited to have their own space. And the pandemic opened up a rare opportunity — Nguyen says it was unexpectedly harder to find a production kitchen, perhaps due to the demand for cloud kitchens, compared to the sweet deal she was able to get on this gorgeous retail space.
The menu won’t change dramatically — Butter& is committed to cake, so don’t expect lattes or salads, this is a dedicated cake boutique. The cakes will now be available in a single serving, likely two or three layers, a couple of inches square. (“It’s not a cupcake,” Nguyen confirms. “It’s a small cake,” with the same thoughtful design.) Cakes will come in five different flavors, including the popular chocolate brightened with passionfruit curd, the classic sweet cream and berry compote, and a couple of seasonal specials, as well as a chef collab. Butter& recently announced their first collaboration with pastry chef Ethel Koh formerly of Gozu, who shared a coconut and pandan cake inspired by her childhood in Singapore, and they’re hoping to welcome more star pastry chefs from Saison, Sorrel, and Birdsong. The bakery will also be pouring some kind of tea service, as well as setting out a few pretty cake stands and servers for sale.
The new location at 690 Indiana fills the corner of a relatively new building on an outdoor plaza, across from Esprit Park. A generous 2,050 square feet, the Piccino team did a full buildout when they opened Noon All Day in 2017. Sagan Piechota Architecture installed a horseshoe-shaped bar and white marble pastry case, with black-and-white tiles underfoot and natural wood slats floating overhead. Best of all, it’s an open kitchen surrounded on three sides by glass, so you can peer in and get a good look at the cake, and appreciate the artists who craft them. “I love how much natural light flows into the space,” Nguyen says. “Typically pastry chefs work in the dungeons, in the smallest kitchen in a basement. This is such a wonderful space.”
She feels lucky the existing design played so well to Butter&’s elegant style. “It’s really nice that we don’t have to spend $300,000 on a buildout,” Nguyen admits. Butter& doesn’t have big investors, Moran says they’ve simply “saved pennies,” and employees share equity in the company. Previously, the team rode a freight elevator up to a production kitchen on the third floor of a warehouse, which ran warm in the summer and frigid in the fog. At the new location, an HVAC will keep the buttercream cool. They’re waiting on a big new oven to arrive from Germany, before schlepping over the heavy mixers, and officially setting up cake headquarters.
Dogpatch doesn’t get too much foot traffic, but Nguyen says that’s actually fine for the way Butter& plans to do cake business. Customers will be able to walk in and try a small cake; and they can still order ahead through the Butter& website and actually be able to park and pick up. And, “We’ll continue working with our exclusive delivery partner Pastel,” Moran jokes about their other business. Pastel will be operating a partner pickup location out of this space, so if you place a preorder through Pastel, you can also bundle in treats from other small food makers all across the Bay Area.
Butter& is slated to open its first official bakery storefront at 690 Indiana Street in the Dogpatch neighborhood in summer 2022. Stay tuned for critical cake updates.
And in the meantime, the cake is available through Pastel! For neighborhood pickup across the Bay Area. If you’ve never used Pastel before, sign up for access below.