The Marble Slab Creamery sensory experience begins by just walking past the storefront, where the buttery scent of fresh-baked waffle cones drifts out into the air. Gourmet ice creams are freshly crafted on site from Marble Slab’s original recipe, enticing customers’ eyes with a rainbow of colours. Once clients have made a flavour selection, they choose from a smorgasbord of mix-ins, from fresh fruit to nuts to candy and crumbled cookies, which an ice cream chef then hand-folds in atop a frosty marble slab before packing the finished custom-designed flavour masterpiece into a house-made waffle cone.
In addition to procuring handheld treats, Marble Slab Creamery can send creations home in a variety of other formats, such as ice cream cakes, cupcakes, and hand-packed half-litres, or in the capable hands of a catering team for sprucing up special events such as corporate get-togethers or school functions with portable marble slabs or sundae bars in tow.
It's 3:30 a.m., and Nycole Donelson, co-owner of Short Cakes Cakery with her husband Derrick Donelson, is already hard at work. She's at her bakery, firing up the ovens and filling them with cups of fresh batter from a repertoire of more than 50 unusual flavors. This is the daily routine. Nycole wants everything to be perfect. The Donelsons began their business not with cupcakes, but with a simple fruit tea recipe. The tea became so popular among the duo's co-workers and friends that they decided to bottle it and sell it—all from within their own home—and coined it Deep South Fruit Tea. To pair with the tea, Nycole began baking gourmet cupcakes in flavors inspired by sweet potato pies, cheesecakes, and favorite childhood candies, such as grape now-and-laters. Nycole's personal favorite is the shortcake cupcake, with a pound cake base, Swiss meringue vanilla buttercream frosting, fresh strawberry glaze, and caramel drizzle. The handheld desserts also quickly took off, so the Donelsons decided to open their own bakery, where they continue to use only real butter and no preservatives. Inside the bakery, electric purple and asparagus-like paint colors wash the walls, adding a bright contrast to the black and white floor tiles. Cupcake cutouts swing from the ceiling, and glass bakery cases display the day's edible wares and bottles of sweetened or unsweetened Deep South Fruit Tea, made with 100 percent real fruit juice and regular, unregular, decaf, or green tea.
As a child, CeCe looked forward to her family’s summertime trips to North Carolina, where she could reconnect with faraway relatives over cookouts. One of her fondest memories from this time is making homemade blackberry ice cream with her Grandma Ruby. Years later, CeCe would look back on these days with nostalgia; she dreamt of opening a business that would bring families together over a tasty summertime treat.
In 2008, her dream became a reality with the opening of Sweet CeCe’s. Like wig salesmen to the Constitutional Convention, families flocked to the self-serve frozen-yogurt shoppe, where they could create their own desserts from dozens of yogurt flavors and toppings. The small shoppe got so popular that CeCe franchised the business. Today, families in 11 states can create sweet memories within the sherbet-colored walls of a Sweet CeCe’s.