Interview: Kari Haskell of Retro Bakery in Vegas

Retro Bakery

Name: Kari Haskell
Age: 32 (now and forever)
Location: Las Vegas, NV

Occupation: Owner/Head of Cupcakes


Retro Bakery

How did you come up with the idea for Retro Bakery?

I was a stay-at-home mom for nine years, and I have been baking since high school. I noticed the cupcake craze happening here and around the U.S. There wasn't anything in my neighborhood, and they were building a brand new building two blocks from my house. We jumped on it, and opened Retro Bakery in three months.

Are you originally from Las Vegas?

No. Brian and I have been here for almost seven years. I was born and raised in McMinnville, Oregon.

What is it like having a family-owned and -operated bakery?

Hard work! You always want to say that family comes first (and it usually does), but when you have a wedding the next day, you're staying at the bakery until it's done...even if that means leaving your kids with grandma for two days (only been done once, but it still kills me).

You're also "together" 24 hours a day, but some days we really don't see each other, since we're working in different places in the bakery, or Brian's out on deliveries (Yes. Brian -- my husband -- does all our deliveries.)

Retro Bakery

What inspired you to make your cupcakery retro in theme?

Cupcakes are just completely retro!

I am all about the 1950s and 1960s, so I sat around saying, "We need to come up with a real RETRO name," and then it hit me: RETRO BAKERY! I've always loved the clean design of that era. Everything was simple and uncluttered, and bright colors are always awesome. My house is the same kind of design, except in orange and brown. Honestly, it's perfect for Vegas, because most people think of this town in the Rat Pack/Elvis era anyway.

Retro Bakery

Your sense of design and style is amazing. Do you have a background in art or design?

No! But, thank you!! Interior design is my second love. I love shapes, colors, and textures. I've always been a huge fan of pop art as well. Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Jasper Johns are huge inspirations to me.

Retro Bakery

How do you come up with your rotating list of nifty new flavors?

They're always our personal favorite desserts or familiar flavors: Chocolate-Covered Banana (Brian's favorite dessert at Disneyland); Hop Scotch (my take on the Dairy Queen butterscotch-dipped cone). I try to make what we like into cupcakes! We get inspiration from everywhere, including our customers. Our Key Lime cupcake was created from a flavor contest we had at a Las Vegas Tweetup (where you go to meet fellow Twitter folks).

Retro Bakery

What is your best-selling cupcake flavor?

Our best seller is the Hop Scotch (vanilla cake topped with vanilla buttercream dipped in butterscotch), but Chocolate Fountain (chocolate cake topped with chocolate buttercream dipped in chocolate ganache) is a close second.

Retro Bakery

What's your personal favorite?

My personal fav is Cinnamon Toast (vanilla cake topped with cinnamon buttercream).

Retro Bakery

Brian's? Drumstick (vanilla cake topped with vanilla buttercream dipped in chocolate and nuts).

The kids? Lucy likes Cotton Candy (vanilla cake topped with cotton candy buttercream). Abbi likes Toffee Break (chocolate cake topped with vanilla buttercream mixed with Heath Bar Bits and dipped in more Heath Bar bits!).

Retro Bakery

What made you decide to focus on buttercream as opposed to other frostings?

Honestly? I don't like anything else! And, it's really easy to change the buttercream flavors vs. whipped or cream cheese flavors (in my opinion). In addition, Las Vegas requires a refrigerated case to sell cupcakes if you have cream cheese or whipped cream frostings, so I didn't want to spend the additional money on that for just a few flavor options.

Retro Bakery

What makes Retro Bakery different from other bakeries?

FLAVORS. And that we do crazy cakes in all of our flavors. We love to give you a reason to drive all the way out here (we're about 25 minutes from The Vegas Strip). I have twenty-four reasons for you to drive past other bakeries, because my flavors really are that unbelievable.

How often do you eat cupcakes?

I eat cupcakes a couple times a week (usually on Fridays after I've been staring at them all week), but I'm always licking buttercream and nibbling cake. Quality control, baby!

What's the best thing about eating cupcakes?

This is a trick question, right? THE BUTTERCREAM! The more the better!

Retro Bakery

What's your favorite type of cupcake?

I'm a big fan of vanilla cake cupcakes. I'm not really a chocolate girl. I always judge a cupcake place on the its vanilla/vanilla cupcake.

How do cupcakes compare/contrast to other baked goods for you?

I like cupcakes a lot, but I'm a cookie lover. I bake sugar cookies every day at Retro and top them with vanilla and cinnamon buttercreams. I'll go for them first, because I like a little CRUNCH.

Retro Bakery

Cupcakes are just fun. They are very cute and make a beautiful presentation. I much prefer them to cake for any occasion.

Retro Bakery

Is there any innovation you'd like to see made to the cupcake that would improve it for you?

Other than a magic wand to make them in an instant? Nothing. They're perfect.

Retro Bakery

Do you bake your own cupcakes? Or (even better) have someone who bakes them for you?

We're half and half around here. Brian makes the batter and all the buttercreams. I scoop and bake all the cupcakes, then frost and decorate them. We had interns for six weeks, and it was heaven, but it made me lazy! They're gone, it's back to him and me.

Retro Bakery

What's your first cupcake-related memory?

When my mom had a plate of Hostess Cupcakes for me for my eighth birthday. I was mad at the time, but now I realize she was just years ahead of her time!

What's the most fun you've ever had with a cupcake?

I'm not gonna go there...JOKING! We've had many a cupcake-throwing fight when it gets a little dull around here. We like to have a good time.

Retro Bakery

Do you have anything else to add?

It has to be said that three years ago I was a housewife reading this blog and dreaming of owning my own shop...and here I am doing this interview. It is very surreal for me, and I am so proud to be here answering these questions! I'm a HUGE fan of Cupcakes Take the CAKE!

Retro Bakery
7785 N. Durango Dr. #130
Las Vegas, NV 89131

Monday-Thursday: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am to 7:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Sunday: CLOSED

$20 for any local Las Vegas delivery
(no minimum - 24 hours' notice)


Unknown said…
Kari is a super doll! I HAVE to try that Hop Scotch cupcake some day. (Do you ship to Seattle??)

I can't wait til my next visit to Vegas to try your delicious looking cupcakes.

Thanks for sharing your sweet story and your family looks adorable.
TomKinley said…
Yummy blog! Thanks for giving out your creative mind's eye.
Toronto Kitchen Renovations
Anonymous said…
These cupcakes truly are the BEST in town! My favorites are the Chocolate Fountain and Coffee & Donuts. I've never met a friendlier or more accommodating business owner. A few days before Christmas I needed a gift certificate, but did not have the time to drive there. They were more than willing to mail it to me. Talk about Retro-style customer service!

Retro truly is worth the drive :)
Natalie said…
The fact that Kari blogged her entire experience building Retro Bakery was so inspirational to me. What a sweet girl and an adorable bakery. Thanks for posting
Unknown said…
I agree; that butterscotch looks incredible. Remember Dairy Queen's cherry dip too? But, back to the matter at hand. Does RB offer any vegan varieties?
Lise said…
Very cool that you entire family helps you. Congratulations!
WOW! Thanks everybody!!
Our chocolate cake is vegan, BUT the buttercream isn't. I can try to accommodate vegan orders, just give me a heads up, and we'll work somethin' out!
Courtney said…
I love baking cupcakes it's always been a hobby of mine. I'm going to school right now for journalism but my real passion in life is to someday own my own bakery! Thanks for the inspiration.
wetotla said…
this is very inspiring! hope that i could open one here in Malaysia.. i love all the designs and their working style ^_^