She's letting them all eat cake

COSTA MESA — For Linda Kirkpatrick, who used to work in Las Vegas construction, there's no job satisfaction quite like building the perfect Bundt cake.

The Newport Beach resident and owner of a newly opened Nothing Bundt Cakes location in Costa Mesa realized about two years ago that she needed a "paradigm shift" from her work as a commercial and residential subcontractor.

"Vegas was hit the hardest, the epicenter of the fallout, and construction just stopped," said Kirkpatrick, 54, of the days leading up to the decision to sell her half of the subcontracting company, which specialized in mirrors, fireplaces and showers.

"The economy makes you stop and say, 'OK, I'm not getting any job satisfaction out of this anymore,'" she said.

While profit drives business, Kirkpatrick said that you have to be satisfied with the work you are doing as well.

Which is why Kirkpatrick is volunteering her time — and Bundt cakes — to the upcoming CHOC Follies, in which she will be performing. Also, 20% of everything sold from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 11 will go to the Children's Hospital of Orange County as part of her store's grand opening.

On March 10, there will be a ribbon cutting by the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce and other city officials to officially kick off three days of events and cake deals at the local franchise on East 17th Street of Nothing Bundt Cakes, a Nevada-based company.

"The economy has been very hard on small businesses," said Ed Fawcett, Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce president. "A lot of businesses have scaled back, moved or closed."

However, Fawcett likened the opening of the bakery to a flower blooming after a long winter.

"We're moving from a dismal and difficult period," he said. "Hopefully things are getting brighter and more small businesses will continue to pop up and fill those vacancies in town."

When Kirkpatrick left the construction business, trading in her hard hat for an altogether different challenge, she knew the transition wouldn't be without difficulties.

"While the schematics of overseeing a business are almost identical, learning the ins and outs of the food industry is completely different," Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick had to learn how to do everything in the store, including being able to whisk up a fresh batch of cake batter (nine flavors, plus a seasonal recipe) and create the company's signature decorative cake toppers (50 of them, plus whatever-you-want variations).

However, the biggest difference is being present for a customer's "ah-ha!" moment, Kirkpatrick said.

In her old job, she would sometimes work with clients halfway across the country. When they finally flipped the switch on their new gas fireplace, she wasn't present to see their enjoyment.

However, watching someone bite into a fresh Bundt cake creates immediate job satisfaction, Kirkpatrick explained.

"I get to see the fruits of my labor right there, and that's instant gratification," she said.

If You Go

What: Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting ceremony

When: March 10, ribbon cutting at 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. Wine and cake tasting featuring Anna's Boutique Wines from 4:30 to 7 p.m..

Where: Nothing Bundt Cakes, 270 E. 17th Street #4, Costa Mesa

For more information: call 949-642-2900

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