Five years ago, Rubina Sadiq opened Cakes by Rubina in the back of the Courtyard Shops on Plymouth Road.
Now, when coffee shops and restaurants in Ann Arbor are falling victim to Covid-19 economics, Sadiq is doubling the size of her shop and expanding its menu.
She hadn’t planned on growing amid a pandemic. “The work began in mid-February,” she explains. “Had I known about the appearance of Covid, I don’t think I would have proceeded forward.
“Now, it is what it is, and there’s no going back.”
A pediatrician in her native Pakistan, Sadiq retooled after her husband’s IT career took them first to Australia and then to the U.S. She is taking over the space previously occupied by Midwest Bike & Tandem.
In addition to bigger kitchen and prep areas, she’ll have more room to display her popular cakes, cupcakes, and French macarons, as well as an expanded selection of French and Italian pastries. She’ll put more emphasis on her coffee cakes–“I’m very, very proud of our coffee cakes” – and plans to start making Mackinac Island fudge, too.
Sadiq says her cakes are particularly popular with university staff, as well as students who walk over from dorms, graduate housing, and apartments nearby. She also gets many orders from parents, especially for graduation parties.
“Commencement is one of our biggest events, and it was a bummer this year, because it was canceled,” she says.
Among students, the most popular cake flavor is cookies and cream–they’ll order it “ninety-nine percent of the time,” Sadiq says young women like red velvet cake, while customers in their thirties and forties favor lemon and raspberry.
Six-inch cakes start at $29.99 for a basic round cake; sheet cakes start at $44.99 for a one-eighth sheet. Vegan and gluten-free versions are available.
Despite the additional space, customers will still have to get their cake to go.
“The first thing people asked me was whether I would have a sit-down area,” Sadiq says. “I would love to do that, but I find this is the best arrangement for me …People can just come in and pick up their stuff,” she says. “It’s not like it’s Meijer’s. People come and buy, and we can easily control how many people are in the shop.”
She’s hoping more people will be willing to venture out soon, especially if Washtenaw County can keep its cases under control.
“In Ann Arbor, most places have done a very good job” adhering to Covid protocols, she says. “People are smart, and they are aware of what’s happening.”
Depending on final building inspections, Sadiq is hoping for a mid-August opening.
Cakes by Rubina, 1689 Plymouth Rd. (Courtyard Shops). (734) 730-5090. Tues.-Fri. noon-7 p.m., Sat. noon-5 p.m. Closed Sun. & Mon.