Got a sweet tooth? Then on Saturday, January 24, you should head over to the grand opening of SusieCakes at the Pavilions shopping center on Fair Oaks Boulevard.

The first SusieCakes was founded by Susan Sarich in 2006 in Southern California. She now has 13 locations, with Sacramento being her latest one in Northern California.

founder Susan Sarich

All of the items are made from scratch daily using only fresh, whole ingredients: butter, milk, eggs, flour.  The recipes were handed down via Sarich's two grandmothers on index cards. There are no preservatives, trans fats, or artificial ingredients.  

All the frostings are buttercreams. They do not use fondants or any of those food coloring printers that print photographs that can be used as transfers on the tops of cakes. All the decorations are done the old fashioned way, via piping and traditional cake decorating techniques. 

The menu stays the same except for a couple of seasonal switches. In the bakery case you'll find at least a dozen cupcake flavors, a pie or two, at least five flavors of cakes, cheesecake, and a variety of puddings, cookies, and bars.

We were given plates for cake tasting. My favorite was the Tropical Coconut which had a light accent of pineapple. 

SusieCakes is not able to name any items as gluten-free as there is likely to be cross contamination in the kitchen, but they do label a few items as made with gluten free ingredients: the peanut butter cookies, the flourless chocolate cake/cupcake, and the vanilla pudding.

Prices range from snack mini-cupcakes and cookies at $2 up to large multi-tiered creations in the hundreds of dollars. Yes, they are happy to make your wedding or party cakes as well.

I asked Sarich how long the cakes are good for and she said for 2-3 days. Asked what happens to unsold items and she said that they get donated to local food banks. 

You will find SusieCakes sort of across the parking lot from Cafe Bernardo at the Pavilions.


564 Pavilions Lane
Pavilions Shopping Center
Sacramento, CA 95825
Tel 916 865 2250
Fax 916 922 2155
Mon-Sat 10am-7pm
Custom Order Inquiries

My new job has changed their company name from Dinnerwire to Guest Innovations.  That's because we will be moving into bigger digs and adding new restaurant industry products starting next month.  So far we have Dinnerwire for the consumer to search for restaurants and Rezku, a restaurant management and reservation system.

This is keeping me so busy that I haven't been writing many Munchie posts. That's because I'm busy writing blog posts over there.  But they are still great posts, so I'm going to share them here. Keep in mind that they are written for restaurants.

Claim Your Restaurant’s Dinnerwire Profile 
Calorie Counts and Your Restaurant
The Anatomy of a Good Restaurant Website
Planning for the Busiest Days of the Year
Increasing Business on the Slowest Days of the Year
There’s Money in Mocktails
Setting Restaurant Goals for the New Year
Maximizing Restaurant Email Campaigns Part 1
Maximizing Restaurant Email Campaigns Part 2
Put Your Best Dish Forward at Fundraisers
Making the Most of Food Holidays

It's now to a point that part-timers will probably LOSE money driving in Sacramento. The only ones who make money are the full-timers. 

12/15/16 SELF DRIVING UBERS ARRIVE IN SF! Luckily the CA DMV has put a stop to it because they did not file the proper permits. But it won't be long!

1/15/16  Rates lowered AGAIN! Don't get sucked in by the quick fix of the weekly pay because when you do the math, overall your expenses outweigh that quick fix. 

1/9/15 Today they lowered rates again.  That means from Sept to Nov to now, the rate for midtown to the airport has gone from $33 to $22 to $17.  Totally not worth it anymore. Don't fool yourself. Don't sign up for either company. And if you subtract the rider fee, your actually take will only be 74%, not 80% of the fare. 5/15/15  As of today, they are now taking even MORE from new drivers. They are taking 25% instead of 20%. Don't drive! 7/1/15 As of today, CA State law required rideshare drivers to carry additional insurance that covers them while driving rideshare.  Another expense that Lyft and Uber are not going to raise rates to help you cover.  7/31/15  Another decrease in fares in the Bay area. Drivers from Modesto to Fresno to Sac have flocked to drive in SF because the rates were better. Now with the further decrease in the surrounding Bay area, EVERYONE will go into SF proper to drive instead, flooding the market. 8/24/15  Sure enough, there's hardly surging anymore in SF on the weekends because every driver in 100 mile radius is going to drive in SF.

Another example. Ride from the airport to Chico is 83 miles. A driver took it and the fare was $97. But then he had to drive it back empty. Total is 166 miles.  Government mileage rate is 56 cents per mile. That mean's his expense was $104.16.  He actually LOST money on that ride.

Another.  A driver has a regular, weekly ride from Roseville to Emeryville (lucky him!). It used to be $250 and the rider did not complain. In just six months that fare has been lowered all the way to $110 and with Uber there is no tipping feature. That sucks!  And if he doesn't get another fare for the return trip home....

Remember that you also need to calculate/subtract out your car costs (mileage, maintenance) as well as car washes, insurance, and, of course, taxes.

And read this: Hidden Cost of Being an Uber Driver

Original post 11/24/14
As if I don't have enough to do, I decided in August to start driving for Lyft. Not because I need the money, but because I need a social outlet on the weekends. I'm plenty busy during the week, but often get bored on the weekends. And if you haven't figured out by now, I like to stay busy.

I started Labor Day weekend and fell in love with the driving and the socializing. And the money was nice too! Then I went to Seattle for the weekend and when I had returned, Lyft had lowered their rates in Sacramento by 35%.  What once might have been a $150 week went down to $97.50.  So I got pissed and joined Uber.  All was good for a while again until a month ago they dropped their rate by 25%.

Yes, the low rates are great for the consumer and if I was wanting a ride, I'd be loving it. But for the drivers, it's a horrible situation.

During these few months I've met a lot of fellow drivers for both companies and learned that many of them actually drive as their means of support. Some have been unemployed forever due to the economy. Some feel unskilled for anything but driving. There are many other reasons as well, but the meat of the matter is that they depend on driving as a living and the rate cuts have severely impacted that income.

Lyft and Uber both look at drivers as totally disposable.  Grind em up and spit them out and then take on a bunch of newbies.  They don't look at drivers the way they should - as assets that are the faces of their companies. Drivers are who the customers see, not the corporate suits. Happy, good drivers are better than grumpy, crappy drivers. 

And it's not a price war that will find a victor in this war.  It's customer service and marketing. Guess what?  The first person for customer service is the driver!

Both Lyft and Uber keep recruiting drivers.  I often meet people who say, "Oh, I was thinking of signing up too!"  So here are a bunch of thoughts for consideration before driving in Sacramento. 

When you hear consistently good things about a restaurant, you are tempted to go and check it out for yourself. This was the case for me for Lola's Lounge in old downtown Elk Grove.  Word of mouth had been good and this was the night before BAR's not so enthusiastic review in the Bee came out. I'm glad I ate there before I had read his review.

I've never been in the heart of old town Elk Grove. Like many small towns in the region, there's been an effort to revitalize these downtowns and try to get patrons to support businesses and restaurants in them versus the box stores and strip malls of the cookie cutter development areas. Lola's Lounge occupies a historic old building in the heart of old downtown. My friend told me it's one of those locations that has had a string of unsuccessful businesses in it. The building itself is a two-story brick structure and inside the restaurant has the bare brick walls and high ceilings. The left side is the bar area and the right side is the dining area, the sides divided by a low wall. 

The menu is made up of mostly small plates, or tapas style. There are a few entrees, but these were not much bigger portions than the small plates. My friend and I opted to share some items and ordered the following:

The special small plate for the night was a lobster roll. It consisted of a sushi-type roll of chopped lobster salad rolled in a wrap of avocado slices. I liked how light and fresh it was with the thinly sliced avocado carefully used as the wrapper.

Our other cold, seafood appetizer came out at the same time - the ceviche. This was a shrimp ceviche in a spiced tomato sauce. The shrimp was balanced out by the crunch of chopped cucumber. The large bowl of ceviche was all served with a generous portion of tortilla chips to eat it with. I thought it was a great value and pretty filling for $9.  I'd order this for lunch for myself.

I insisted on getting the empanadas because I really like meat pies of all nationalities. These had a shredded beef, hard boiled egg, and olives. The crust was blistered from being deep fried and they came to the table nice and hot. I liked the beef and crust, but would have preferred less egg and no olive. (That is only because I am not an olive fan and think their flavor was overpowering.)

We had selected one hot entree that came out along with the empanadas. The El Gaucho Beef was sliced and served with a cilantro chimichurri and small roasted new potatoes. Both of us really liked the chimichurri and wiped up every bit of it. The beef was cooked perfectly to a medium rare, as requested, and was sliced to make it tender. 

We liked all our items, some more than others. I worried, though, about the menu. How often was it going to change?  It's not a large menu and my friend had already been a month before and eaten some of the same items. The only special was a soup and the lobster roll.  I could see the menu getting rather boring if you came back often enough before it got changed. 

Overall, I'd recommend it. The service was attentive and friendly, the food tasty and served the right temperature, and the room was not so noisy that we had to shout to have a conversation. If they change up the menu more often and keep fresh and tasty tapas coming, they may be the success that this building has been waiting for. It's these sort of small, independent, different cuisine restaurants that the burbs need.

Back in 2012 I wrote a post about Asian Treats that could be found around Sacramento. In the last year there has been an explosion of new Asian frozen treat places.

Often it seems like Sacramento is one of the last to the party in terms of some food trends. In this case, we are the leader and these Asian treats will become more in the mainstream market - not just a favorite with Asians, but with anyone with a sweet tooth. Asian snack food chains Quickly and Lollicup have been spreading, so it's easy to imagine that more of these Asian snack trends will as well. 

courtesy of Vampire Penquin
The first one was Vampire Penquin, which opened in Little Saigon and quickly became popular as word spread of their new treats.  VP was not shaving ice and flavoring it, but instead making flavored ice milks and then shaving those. The result is a shaved ice snow that they then topped with things like boba, pearls, jellies, beans, and fruit. After the success of the first location, they are already opening four others and will surely conquer the rest of the State in quick order. 

courtesy of Chelo
Next on the scene was Chelo, located in the Filipino mall at 611 Mack Road.  This is a Filipino eatery which features silog meals (meat/rice/egg plates) and a large variety of halo halo. Halo halo means "mix mix" and is the Filipino frozen treat where a parfait is made with crushed ice, ice cream, evaporated milk, beans, fruits, etc. It's served in a tall glass in layers and then you take a long spoon to mix mix the whole concoction together before eating. At Chelo they serve a variety of halo halos instead of just one standard. 

courtesy of Snobites

Two more frozen treat places are Snowbee Tea Station and Snobites.  They serve boba teas, shave ice, and shave snow.  They add Taiwanese milk toast as well. 

I enjoyed one of the creations with the milk toast over at Snobites.  You can order a single or double slice, or if you are really hungry or willing to share, get a "brick", which is about a half of loaf of milk bread that's been hallowed out and filled with ice cream and treats. I talked to the owner who told me that the milk bread is a sweet, dense bread that is eaten for dessert in Taiwan. They toast it, which adds some time to your order, so be patient. It is served with ice cream, fruit, toppings, and syrup. At Snobites they even add macarons. 

That's quite a few frozen dessert places, all different, to open in the last year.  I see this as a sign and won't be surprised to see more of these Asian frozen treats spreading across the country.

You might also like to read my post, Not all Hawaiian Shave Ice is Created Equal