We had the good fortune of connecting with Sara Brook and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sara, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe is the third business that I have started and owned. When I was 21, I sold my first dessert business, “The Executive Sweet,” which flourished from 1979 until 1988. One week later, I launched “Sara Brook Desserts,” a dessert catering company that I operated out of the River Oaks Grill. When customers repeatedly asked for a chocolate sauce I created, I decided to devote full time to marketing and selling that sauce, “The Great Chocolate Cover Up,” nationwide through specialty and gourmet food stores. In 1992, I sold that company and continued working with the new owners as a consultant for two years. In 1995, I finally founded my third (and favorite) dessert company: Dessert Gallery Bakery & Café! As a single mom, I needed to provide for both me and my child. I knew I didn’t want to put my child in daycare, so I felt that starting my own business (again) was the best option for my family.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
One of the reasons Dessert Gallery has been a staple in the Houston community for as long as it has is because of the attention to detail and quality control of the desserts. My mentality is that if I wouldn’t serve it to you in my home, it isn’t being served at Dessert Gallery. Houstonians have come to love Dessert Gallery’s desserts so much is because they remind them of the way their moms and grandmas used to make them. In fact, some of the recipes really did come from my own grandma! One of my biggest challenges to date was paying off my business debt in 2018. Just 8 years ago, I found myself over $1 million dollars in debt and down from three storefronts to just one, the current store located on Kirby and Richmond. Thanks to maximizing production through Dessert Gallery’s commissary and staying true to myself and the Dessert Gallery brand, I was able to pay off my final debts and am now debt-free! As a woman business owner, single mother, and majority-shareholder of my own business that is still going strong after 25 years, this is a huge achievement and accomplishment that I feel deserves to be celebrated. Getting to where I am today business-wise was definitely not easy, but to be honest, I feel like I’m just now going through the truly hard times due to COVID-19. I’ve made it this far relying on love and support from my parents and lots of prayers! Ultimately, I feel that the best way to have a successful business is valuing the opinions of our customers. If a customer has a favorite dessert that may no longer be a part of our menu, we will work to try and make it available for them. Additionally, we are always looking at ways to add new and exciting items to our menu and stay on top of trends that will excite our customer base. We recently added Keto options to our menu due to this very reason! We also feel very strongly about taking a stand for what’s right and truly supporting our community. That’s why we try to involve ourselves with organizations like Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston Area Women’s Center and more. During Pride month you can find special treats celebrating the LGBTQ members of our community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When in Houston, you have to eat Barbecue. My go-to recommendation is always Fege’s BBQ. In addition, Houston has such an amazing ethnically diverse culinary scene. I like to visit Himalaya Restaurant and Ninfa’s on Navigation. Discovery Green is a great location for a walk in the park, picnic, and to view some wonderful art. For something a little more adventurous, try sailing in Kemah!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Danny Jackson and I have worked together for over 35 years. He has been my partner from the first business and is still by my side as the Assistant Bakery Manager of Dessert Gallery!
Trish Badger Lulu Lopez