DENVILLE, NJ -- In these trying times, it does not seem likely new businesses would pop up as often. Yet, during the last week of September, a new place for sweets, Vikingos Cake Shoppe & Bakery, came to the downtown area of Denville Township.
Located at 34 First Avenue, Vikingos Cake Shoppe & Bakery opened just in time for one of the Denville After Dark events and introduced themselves to the community. Leading a four-member team are co-owners Jillian VanStrander and Jesus Mendez, both 2006 graduates of neighboring Morris Hills High School, in Rockaway Borough.
“Growing up in Rockaway, we both of course had been to Viking Bakery [in Denville]. So we both have fond memories of the space,” said Mendez.
“I opened up El Mejicano next door six years ago. [Viking Bakery] took a major downward spiral and was eventually closed in May 2019.”
Prior to Vikingos, VanStrander and Mendez had collaborated on several events together. The new bakery came as a great opportunity.
“We liked working with each other and her products were out of this world,” said Mendez, raving about VanStrander's culinary skills.
“Teaming up to build something awesome seemed like a no-brainer. She had the bakery experience, and I had the business experience. We just needed the right opportunity. So, when the bakery next door became available, it seemed like it was meant to be.”
Following the usual grand opening with a ribbon cutting, Vikingos has done pretty well in Denville. The bakery has been embraced greatly by the community, and Vikingos has had the opportunity to participate in downtown events in addition to Denville After Dark, such as Pink Witches Night Out.
“We could not be luckier to be in such an amazing town and a part of such an awesome community,” said Mendez.
“Having the restaurant has really helped in engaging the community since they already knew who I was. Then it was a matter of letting them know who Jillian was. Add the fact that our location was already well known as a bakery, we had an easy time spreading the word.”
“We have opened during the toughest times the world has seen in a long while. We strongly believe had we opened in any other town there is no way we could make it. Being in Denville during these times almost feels like we’re in a bubble. Having such a strong community wanting to support small businesses like ours has made all the difference. The community only asks for one thing in return -- value.”
Although Vikingos did not know what to expect at first, business has been quite decent. Customers are offered contactless pick-up and delivery of custom cakes and confections, and the reception has been great, making Mendez and VanStrander very proud.
“Bringing new life to this old bakery has been a dream come true,” said Mendez.
“A dream that started over a year ago and has taken on a pandemic, countless setbacks and many more issues. And yet we still opened. So, to be able to finally open and see people’s reactions to what we have to offer feels amazing.”
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