Ashley Griffith and her dad Bill are like most daughters with their fathers. There’s the good-natured banter that you’d expect, along with the verbal shorthand that marks many long term relationships. It’s good that they get along because as Ashley says – “You love your parents, but you don’t spend this much time with them as adults.”
This is due to the fact that Bill Griffith is the general manager of AshleyCakes bakery, 2032 E. TC Jester, which sells custom, specialty and readymade cakes, cupcakes and cookies. Oak Forest resident Ashley Griffith, who was an actuary before she went to Le Cordon Bleu, has been making custom cakes for the past eight years out of a small commercial kitchen, but decided to open up her own storefront about a year and a half ago. AshleyCakes has been open since early May.
“My dad told me that now’s the time,” said Ashley. “We need to do this.”
Bill was in logistics at an international start up related to the oil and gas industry, when that business suffered through a downturn and he was laid off. Initially, he was just helping out his daughter washing dishes in the commercial kitchen, but soon saw a niche he could fill.
“She needed the help,” said Bill. “She didn’t sleep weekends.”
Getting the brick and mortar location up and running took a little while longer than anticipated as Hurricane Harvey hit right after they signed the lease, but now there are seven employees, five of whom are full time. This includes partners Bill and Chef Pahn Smith, a graduate of LeNotre Culinary Institute with a degree in baking and pastry. Ashley’s sister, who lives in Cypress, does social media for the bakery.
“Everyone helps out with everything,” said Ashley.
Dad and daughter have their particular strengths. Bill, who always enjoyed outside sales, is in his element in the front of the store.
Ashley says her dad is a “really good cook” who has now learned to bake and make icing, but Bill says that decorating is beyond his level of expertise.
Ashley relishes pursuing her passion – baking – and has an impressive array of offerings on the menu, including non-cupcake offerings like crème brulee and chocolate mousse. A recent hit is the Royal Mini Cake, really a jumbo cupcake, inspired by the one at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.
“People like that you can mix and match cupcake flavors,” said Ashley, who notes that customers can get three dollars off for a dozen cupcakes.
Bill’s favorite cupcake is the chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake which was a finalist in the Rodeo Uncorked Best Bites competition this year, but he is also partial to AshleyCakes cookies. Ashley said that the chocolate bacon cupcakes are also a favorite, especially at the Rodeo.
“They really like the sweet and savory taste of the meat and chocolate,” said Ashley.
While Ashley may not be the first to toot her own horn, her dad is only so happy to do so.
“We opened without any fanfare, but this is a really different concept,” said Bill. “It’s a hybrid. Ashley does elegant custom specialty cakes but also sells individual cupcakes and cake by the slice. I didn’t know how much of a gift [Ashley] had until I started working events and hearing customers talk about her.”
For Ashley’s part, she’s grateful to have someone that she can be herself with – “If something’s bothering me, I can tell him.” And although they don’t see eye to eye on every issue, there’s no one she’d rather have in her culinary corner.
“I’m able to do this because of his support and his belief in me,” said Ashley.
In honor of her dad for Father’s Day, Ashley is selling a parfait version of his favorite dessert, the Chocolate Ice Box Pie with chocolate mousse, Oreo crust, and whipped cream through Sunday.
For more on AshleyCakes, visit them online at https://www.ashleycakeshouston.com, on Facebook at AshleyCakes Houston or follow on Twitter at @AshleyCakesHouston.