In the RBA Member Spotlight series, we'll be profiling valued members of the Retail Bakers of America community.

This week, we're looking at Sara Brook of Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe in Houston, Texas.

Secrets to success

How has Sara Brook created three dessert-related businesses, come out on top by selling one of them, and kept her current one going for nearly 30 years (with no end in sight)? She doesn’t have a clear answer, or she would tell us. Her generosity seems to pour out in several ways, including to her fellow retail bakery owners who she loves connecting with and asking for and receiving advice.

Here are some good guesses that led to her thriving bakery business in the Houston area.

She embraced family from day 1. Her daughter Jen was only 4 when she started Dessert Gallery. Little Jen tagged along to anything and everything her mom was working on for the bakery. Not tagged along in a “hidden away” sense, but front and center. Other staff members took Jen under their wings and watched out for her also.

“She's 34, and I'm still a mommy first,” Sara said.

This “village” model continued when other staff members needed to (or simply chose) to bring their children to work. Now Sara says, there are next generation family members working at her bakery and cafe!

Sara hires creatively and with open arms. Many of her staff have been placed by a refugee resettlement program and a prisoner re-entry program. She has never regretted participating in either program. In fact, she says the benefits have been huge and encourages other business owners, especially bakery owners, to try hiring this way.

Innovation led to the bakery’s recent expansion into a suburb of Houston. Sara and team noticed that a lot of sales were coming from third party delivery. So she used insight from those apps to determine which area of the city was primed for a high order rate for deliveries. In their case, it was The Woodlands. Using that market research and choosing their new location worked well. They now receive 30 percent of sales from apps like Uber Eats, Door Dash, and Grub Hub. It’s also one of the main reasons they stay open so late (until midnight on some nights). People sit around with friends and realize–hey, a slice of cake sounds great at 11:30 pm. 

Doing things a bit differently is another asset.

“My operation is a little different from others that I've seen. We do sell a lot of whole cakes. Our standard cake is a 9-inch / three-layer. We also sell a lot of 6-inch cakes. A lot of bakeries who have “case cakes” tend to be 6- or 8-inch, but our typical is 9 inch and the reason is we sell dessert by the slice more than anything. Which is why we're open those crazy hours, right?”

Sara is open to advice from her family/team. When her daughter told her it was time for a rebrand, she listened. Dessert Gallery now has a fresh look and vibe.

Interested in learning more about becoming a member of the Retail Bakers of America? Click here.

Current RBA members, email Marlene O’ Connell ( to learn how you can be featured in an upcoming member spotlight.