It All Comes Back to Custom Cakes

After our busiest but also most stressful year of business, we took a month off at the end of 2022 to reflect, analyze, and make thoughtful choices about the best path forward. We decided to say farewell to some menu items and sales activities that just weren’t working for us, and to double down on what’s best and most unique about Bartleby’s. Here’s a rundown of what we’re planning to do more and less of in the new year:

More: Cakes! We started this business because we saw a gap in the Chicago market for gourmet, fresh, custom ice cream cakes. They’ve always been the center of our business, but we’ve tried a whole bunch of other things too. Cakes are still what we’re best at, so cakes are going to be our focus. Look for more cake specials and cake creativity this year!

Less: Sandwiches. Don’t get us wrong—we LOVE ice cream sandwiches. So portable, so snackable, so endlessly riffable. But our current kitchen setup  doesn’t include the right equipment for getting ice cream to the ideal consistency for making sandwiches. Believe us, we’ve tried! But we’ve finally realized that, for as long as we’re in our current space, we need to be kind to ourselves and stop freaking out over ice cream that’s either too hard to sandwich or too soft to package.

More: Delivery. We know that convenience is crucial, and especially in this huge city it helps customers a lot to have a delivery option. This year we’re signing on with XpressRun to provide more efficient and reliable delivery service throughout Chicago. Pickup is also still available at our kitchen and our two remote pickup locations on the north and south sides.

Less: Wholesale. Most of our retail activity was centered around sandwiches, and like we said above, those weren’t working out for us. So we had to let some of our wholesale accounts know that we can’t service them anymore. However, you’ll still be able to find our scoops and cakes at Etheria Cafe and packaged ice cream at Kite String Cantina, and we’re working with other retailers to figure out how we can show up on their freezer shelves. 

More: Weddings and Catering. As many of you already know, ice cream cakes aren’t just for birthdays. For other types of occasions, we can make big ice cream cakes! Tall ice cream cakes! Fancy ice cream cakes! Ice cream cakes with your organization’s name on them! And we have delivery and serving expertise to ensure that your big, tall, fancy, or eponymous ice cream cake is the life of the party. 

Less: Markets. Given that we don’t have a storefront, we love selling at markets as a way to see your faces and connect with you in person. But the logistics of holding a highly perishable product outdoors for several hours are so stressful. And markets are labor-intensive, packaging-intensive, waste-intensive—all things we’d like to cut back on. We will still come out for a few public events throughout the year, but otherwise we’re going to put our energy into custom cake orders for all of your special occasions.

As always, we more than welcome your feedback on these changes and your ideas on how we can be the best Bartleby’s. Thanks for reading this and for all your support!