UPDATE – Jan. 12
In a Facebook post Saturday evening, Alisha Hardison announced that Dalishas Bakery & Cafe will close its storefront, effective Feb. 15. Hardison said she will be working from her home after that date, where she will continue making cakes and desserts.
“With the inability to serve dine-in lunch patrons, we can no longer be successful in our current space,” Hardison wrote.
The post said Hardison had been searching for a new space for over a year, with multiple places falling through.
“It is difficult to find a zoned, affordable space in Owensboro that meets our needs, so we are praying about what other opportunities may arrive in this transition,” Hardison wrote.
At this time, Hardison wrote, she does not have plans to move forward with a dine-in lunch facility.
“I honestly never would have imagined this is where we’d be just five months ago, but I know that God has a plan, even if I don’t quite understand or know what it is yet,” Hardison wrote. “In the five years we’ve been here, we’ve had the honor of being a small part of so many of your celebrations through cake and desserts. We’ve filled your bellies with lunch. We’ve gotten ‘regulars’ and learned your names and orders. We’ve cried with you, celebrated with you, and laughed with you. We’ve seen our lunch grow from just a side gig to a full-blown restaurant where every seat was filled and the line was out the door.”
Hardison said through her customers’ support she was able to give back to others, with her biggest sales day to date on one of those occasions. Dalisha’s was also “Entrepreneur of the Year,” receiving a KeeForce Business Makeover and made a cake for Governor Beshear and for Owensboro’s bicentennial celebration.
“Most importantly, we’ve been featured at your dining tables, wedding tables, birthday tables, baby showers, baptisms, anniversaries and holiday tables,” Hardison wrote. “You’ve brought your family, friends, work clients, and employees in to share a meal and desserts with them. Thank you for all of those moments and more! This is truly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I am so thankful for each of you and your support and I’m blessed to have spent five years in this location. We are not closing the business, just the physical location.”
For those customers with gift cards, Hardison said she will still be functioning as normal until Feb 15 and that credit can be used on cakes after the location closes.
Prior to Friday, Nov. 30, Dalishas Bakery & Cafe, located in the Centre for Business and Research building on Allen Street, offered dine-in services for their bakery and lunch patrons. A change in school security procedures for the Owensboro Innovation Academy restricted use of the school’s bathrooms to Dalishas patrons. While owner Alisha Hardison and the Owensboro Public Schools district have come to an amicable agreement until the end of her lease in May, including ensuring her employees have routine access to the restroom, Hardison said she has still had to find creative ways to replace the amount of revenue the bakery lost when it could no longer offer patrons the convenience of dining in.
“Our dine-in was the bulk of our business. We had to change a lot of things to continue to make money,” Hardison said. “Since we are not able to do dine in anymore, we thought we could to do carry-out to make up the difference.”
On Dec. 28, Hardison posted a photo of Dalishas new carry-out menu on social media with items available Monday thru Friday from 10 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., along with delivery available to local businesses within five miles of the bakery.
“That wasn’t intentional,” Hardison said of the expanded carry-out menu. “It probably would not have happened if we could have gone on the way we were before. The delivery side of it wasn’t something we necessarily considered.”
Hardison said, although she has a minimal staff for the delivery-side of the business, local businesses already help compose the bulk of her lunchtime clientele, so it would be an added convenience to deliver to doctors offices and schools.
While the bakery saw an upswing in cake sales at the end of 2018, she said the loss of the dine-in income was still apparent.
“In December, I could definitely tell. As far as our dine-in lunch revenue, it was the lowest December in three years,” Hardison said. “For cakes, it was the highest amount.”
Hardison said the “total revenue for December is skewed,” as the increase in cakes sales and seasonal baked goods made up for the lack of income from dine-in patrons.
“If I didn’t have my cakes to supplement, it would have been awful,” she said. “In January, it will be a true test because we are not making that money from our dine-in customers.”
For the next five months, Hardison said the staff will be “just trying to find new ways to supplement.”
She said this may mean, aside from the carry-out business, that she focuses solely on wedding cakes for now and not offer birthday and specialty cakes.
“I am the sole cake person,” Hardison said. “I finish and bake every cake that comes out of this door and I can only physically do so much.”
While considering other creative methods for income, Hardison said she would really love to offer baking classes for adults, as well as children wanting to learn the craft. She also said although she and her husband, Scott, have been looking diligently for a new location to transition to come May, the search has been difficult.
“We do not yet have a location. We are still looking into spaces,” Hardison said. “We want to make sure that it fits our business needs, that it’s zoned for a restaurant, and that we can afford both rent and renovations.”
For now, the bakery will move forward with its new carry-out menu and support local businesses by providing lunchtime delivery.
“At this time, we are just seeing what January has in store for us as far as the delivery goes,” Hardison said. “We want to see if that type of business structure is going to sustain us.”