Every now and then you hear of a teenager with an entrepreneurial spirit. Kaylena Marie Eisenhauer takes that to a new level. As a high school junior, she enjoyed baking cookies and decided to share them with her co-workers at Delta Sonic.
Next thing she knew Delta Sonic was carrying her cookies in their retail locations. Other big name commercial accounts came her way – ranging from popular restaurants to banquet facilities.
Just a few years later, Eisenhauer opened her own bakery in Orchard Park and gave up the commercial accounts to focus on the retail business. That was October of 2016. Now Kaylena Marie's Bakery is a bustling business serving baked goods and lunches while most of Eisenhauer’s friends are still in college.
She stepped away from the oven to talk about her popular cinnamon rolls, Nana’s cannoli recipe and more.
Question: How did you handle running a business while you were still in high school?
Eisenhauer: It was pretty crazy. I was on the cheer team and a junior in high school and it just snowballed. I had all of these accounts and I was still in my mom’s kitchens with a hand mixer. I was baking 300 cookies every other day. I filled an order for 500 cheesecakes and 500 pies.
I saved up and bought a commercial oven. I’m really a self-taught baker. I got scholarships to culinary schools, but I wanted to open retail so I did a one-year program at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute.
Q: How does the retail aspect compare to the commercial side?
A: Retail is great. We did start with cinnamon rolls, cakes and brownies and now evolved into pastries, cupcakes and cheesecakes. We switch it up to keep people coming in. The cinnamon rolls are 4-by-4 inches - they’ve been the big seller since the beginning. They’re huge!
We didn’t have intentions of doing food in the café, but we do have a lunch rush so we had to expand and we got into different types of breakfast sandwiches and artisan French toast.
Everything is homemade – even the granola. I use fresh bread for all of our sandwiches for lunch and rolls for breakfast. We have salads and wraps for lunch and homemade mac and cheese. It’s a café-style bakery.
Q: Are any of your recipes handed down from family?
A: We have homemade cannoli filling – that is my great, great Nana’s recipe from Naples, Italy – that’s the only thing that is handed down. My mom and I came up with creative elements of baking. I give a lot of credit to my mom.
People ask, ‘How do you know what to put into it?’ It just happens. I just know what to do and what to tweak. I can’t do all of the baking by myself anymore. But every person I hire I never give up cinnamon roll recipe.
Q: Did you ever imagine owning your own bakery when you started baking?
A: I’m very determined, but I never thought it would be happen this fast and blow up this fast. It’s exciting and I love what I do every day. I have the most supportive family with my parents and my Nana and Papa. Business runs in the family.
Q: What do you have planned for the future?
A: We want to open an hour earlier for the morning commute. My goal is to have the right staff and open on Sundays. Someday, I’d like to see sommelier wine pairing and desserts. I’d like to do baguettes and dipping oils and have a night time scene eventually, but that would be a five year plan.
INFO: Kaylena Marie’s Bakery, 4236 N. Buffalo Road, Orchard Park. 716-508-8491. Hours: 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed Sunday.