Fifth-generation Houstonian Sara Brook is celebrating the anniversary of Dessert Gallery — her beloved old-school sweet-centric bakery and cafe — with a total renovation of the 20-year-old business. On assignment for the project, K-Tom Graphic Design's Kelly Thompson explained,
"We wanted to communicate homemade, old fashioned, and made from scratch while still showcasing the artfulness and quality of each decadent dessert."
To that end, the logo and branding are all new, inspired by vintage ice cream parlors and cafes. Scraped concrete floors, parolor-style pendant lights, pops of teal and purple and white subway tile complete the warm and modern look. Thompson also designed a brand new custom counter and display case to improve in-store traffic and increase the amount of mouthwatering desserts on display. Local artist, Sara Hinkle hand-drew the menu on new black slate boards and re-designed the printed menus as well.
We recently sat down with Brook, amidst all Dessert Gallery's homespun treats, to learn more about her inspiration, her take on trends after 20 years, and chocolate cake.
What inspired the new look at The Dessert Gallery? Who inspired the new look is the better question. The same person who inspires me most days, my daughter Jen. Jen grew up at Dessert Gallery. She was 4 when it opened and now she’s off to grad school. Somewhere in between, she worked for me for a year and a half, spending time in different parts of the company.
One day she said, 'Mom, you need a new look. Your desserts are awesome. You use great ingredients. You need to let people know what you’re all about, so we need to come up with a new look that does a better job of conveying how fresh and cool Dessert Gallery really is.'
If it wasn’t for Jen, I wouldn’t have had the nerve to change the logo and I certainly wouldn’t have had the vision for the new look of the café. Even though I was nervous at first, I got really into the process.
How have your desserts evolved through the years? We were "comfort" when "comfort" wasn’t cool. Hey – isn’t that a country song?! I’m excited that everything we‘ve been doing for 20 years is now somehow cool and trendy. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever done something ahead of a curve. We’ve always been all about old-fashioned, homemade, rich, decadent, comfort desserts. We’ve always used the best ingredients, eschewing anything with chemicals and preservatives. We make our own frostings and fillings – we never use anything pre-made that comes in a bucket and has a 10-year shelf life!
What trends are you excited about right now? I think it’s so interesting that today’s "trends" come straight from the pages of my mom’s and my grandmother’s cookbooks! I think it’s interesting to try using flowers and herbs and different flavor combinations, but when people want something sweet, they want something familiar that they know will be worth the calories.
What’s are the top selling items at The Dessert Gallery? Our top-selling chocolate cake is the Old Fashioned Diner Cake, a golden cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. It’s number one by far and has an actual cult following. For non-chocolate, the Tres Leches is at the top. And the chocolate-dipped chocolate chunk cookie is our best-selling cookie.
Visit Dessert Gallery Monday through Thursday from 11a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight; and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.