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Plant Cakes vegan bakery opening new space in downtown Wake Forest

Plant Cakes owners Mark Deskus and Jess Reilly are making cakes, donuts, cookies and even cinnamon rolls a reality for vegans and people with food allergies.

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Jessica Patrick
, WRAL multiplatform producer
WAKE FOREST, N.C.Plant Cakes Bake Shop owners Mark Deskus and Jess Reilly are making desserts like cakes, donuts, cookies and even cinnamon rolls a reality for vegans and people with food allergies.

The couple sold their first cake in 2018 and have been serving their community ever since. Now, they're opening their first brick-and-mortar location in a new building in downtown Wake Forest.

"We have really great customers," Jess said. "We do a lot with the community, and with the local businesses downtown, so it's exciting that we'll actually be one."

Jess and Mark noticed a need for indulgent items for vegans like themselves and especially for people with dairy or egg allergies.

"We know people who have kids with food allergies that have never had a donut before -- and the first time they had a donut was when they found us, which is crazy to me," said Jess, who loves sweets and desserts.

Even as veganism becomes more popular, Jess said finding products that are truly vegan can be a challenge for the people who need them. That's why Plant Cakes has such a high standard for taste and safety.

"We are very specialized," Jess said. "There are no animal products at all in our facility, so for kids with dairy or egg allergies, it's a completely safe space."

Vegan and plant-based items are becoming more available at grocery stores and restaurants, but it can be difficult to fully trust what you're eating, Jess said.

"That's one thing I have always struggled with," Jess said. "You can't go out to eat a lot, then when you go somewhere you are always kind of questioning if it's 100% vegan or if the person making your food understands allergies. Here there will be absolutely no cross contamination."

Photo courtesy of Plant Cakes

Baking is truly a labor of love, Jess said, adding that Mark loved baking so much he was giving tons of cakes away to people when they first met.

Jess and Mark already offer deliveries and curbside pick-up, but they have big plans for their first physical space when it opens in October. Jess said the new building offers amazing views of downtown and will be a great gathering place for families. She visualizes hosting events for families and 5Ks and runs that start at the bakery.

She's most excited about seeing customers walk in for a sweet treat when it's finally safe to do so.

Photo courtesy of Plant Cakes

"You can just stop in and get a dozen donuts and know they are made with care," Jess said. "I feel like there is a need for what we do. I feel like we need a vegan bakery downtown."

Jess said Plant Cakes isn't just about offering vegan desserts -- it's about being plant-based and earth-conscious.

Mark and Jess use as many local ingredients as possible and stay away from products like artificial dyes, even in the beautiful wedding cakes Mark decorates. Even Plant Cakes' red velvet cake is colored with beet root, which keeps its sweet flavor but adds rich color.

Photo courtesy of Plant Cakes

"It's important to know where your food comes from," Jess said. "Everything we make we try to make sure we make it the healthiest, most delicious way possible."

"This isn't diet food," she added. "This is indulgent."

Right now, customers looking for vegan desserts drive to Wake Forest from all over the Triangle to get Plant Cakes. Jess and Mark make sure they can fill large orders, like boxes of donuts or wedding cakes, in under 48 hours for their customers. They even bake pies for the holidays.

"We have a large variety of things, and we have so many good things," Jess said. "We put so much love into what we do, and it's important, because people don't always get the tastiest things that are dairy and egg free."

The bakery is slated to open in October in the new PowerHouse Row building at 410 South White St.


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