BUSINESS BEAT: New shop in Ontario puts icing on the cake

Lisa Mathews is tapping her talent for sweets – cupcakes, cookies, cakes – in her new venture, Dessert by Design.

Designer cupcakes are a specialty of Lisa Mathews’ new Ontario business, Dessert by Design. (The Enterprise/LES ZAITZ)

ONTARIO -– The call to Lisa Mathews came about a month ago.

“Can you do 400 cupcakes?” the caller asked.

“Sure, I can,” Mathews answered. “I have a big oven now.”

Mathews worked on the cupcakes through last weekend, getting them ready for a local wedding.

She’s making lots of cupcakes these days after opening her new shop, Dessert by Design.

Mathews is clear that while she bakes, she’s not operating a bakery—as in bread.

She is instead focused on the sweet side of life – cupcakes, cookies, and cakes.

Mathews opened in December at 1008 SW 4th Avenue, across from Saint Alphonsus Medical Center Ontario. Her dessert shop is open 11 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Friday and 11 am to 2 pm on Saturday.

Baking has been part of Mathews’ life since she was a kid. She is a native of Wisconsin and grew up in California.

“I’ve baked my whole life,” she said. “I started decorating my own birthday cakes when I was 12.”

She collected recipes and developed her dessert and decorating skills while spending 10 years in Europe at a military post exchange. Mathews married a soldier – Shannon Mathews – and followed him to posts in Washington state and Wisconsin before he retired.

The couple moved to Ontario, where Mathews’ husband grew up and was a third-generation farmer.

Mathews took her first shot at her own baking business in 2012, but health issues within three months led her to sell.

She later worked in retail management and publishing – including acquiring the local Tidbits publication – before deciding it was time to get back into desserts.

Lisa Mathews discusses her new Ontario business, Dessert by Design, on Friday, Jan. 7. (The Enterprise/LES ZAITZ)

Mathews bakes at her shop, living by the motto, “Homemade, baked fresh.”

Her passion for cake decorating is evident in browsing through photos of her work posted on the Facebook page of Dessert by Design. These aren’t your ordinary cakes.

She doesn’t have a personal favorite among her dessert items, though she confesses to having a cookie for breakfast.

Mathews is carving out a specialty with her cupcakes, providing a “cupcake of the week.” She intends to expand the flavors and then build up other parts of the business.

She plans to at some point provide ready-made cakes and cake by the slice.

Mathews also plans to develop a meals-to-go specialty.

Mathews takes custom orders — like those 400 wedding cupcakes — and invites people to drop by her shop to discuss what they have in mind.

You can also be reached by phone at 541-212-0914.

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