Story by Jenny Paulson – Puebloan Aileen Passalaqua has spent decades making some of Pueblo’s most dazzling layered cakes, cookies, cup cakes and other speciality creations. She launched her cake business Aileen’s Cake Decor in 1984, at her location at the Midway Shopping Center, and today is known to be one of Pueblo’s most creative bakers of custom desserts, including wedding, special occasion, seasonal cakes and more, talent passed along to her four daughters, who now assist her with the cake shop and a cafe.
After establishing herself as one of Pueblo’s top bakers through the years, and with the demand for her custom food creations increasing (thriving mostly on old fashioned Pueblo-style word-of-mouth), Aileen opened a small bake shop cafe in 2001 at a second location, to garner a new audience.
Little Bite of Heaven Bakery & Cafe, located at the historic Pueblo Depot, was created so Aileen could provide seating for her guests in a quaint, historic setting, where more diverse specialty dessert items and treats could be sold by the slice or individually, including cakes, pies, cup cakes, cookies, donuts, rolls, pastries, cinnamon rolls and other baked goods, Italian ice cream, along with custom drinks like lattes, espressos, cappuccinos and speciality teas.
Through the years, Aileen, with the input of her now grown daughters, have tweaked and expanded Bite of Heaven’s breakfast, lunch and desert menu, providing delicious, affordably priced quiche, homemade soups, salads, and speciality sandwiches, with special buffets and tea tasting events, that locals enjoy.
The family’s cake shop continues to be a local tradition, serving many life-long loyal customers, and a Little Bite of Heaven is also flourishing, thanks to customers who have long valued her chic eats, way before reality baking programs contributed to the rise in pastry arts and high-end bakeries throughout the U.S., and to that unique sense of community in Pueblo, that supports family owned businesses in our food city.
A life-long baker, Aileen began by learning how to cook from her mother and grandmother when she was growing up in Pueblo. She started her cake shop while in in her 30s, raising her four daughters with the love of baking, all of whom had their first jobs at her cake shop, where she taught them about the food business of as well.
Today, her daughters back up their busy mother, helping her carry on the tradition of baking intricately decorated cakes, with beautiful fillings and delicious frosting and managing Little Bite of Heaven. They all have their own special skills. Janelle Vruggeman now does all the fondant work for the family businesses. Janae Passalaqua, also a cooking teacher at East High School, and her sister, Jenna Passalaqua and Jaelee Passalaqua also help with cake baking and decorating and with the bakery and cafe.
The family does custom cake and dessert consultations, showing customers sample creations in books and photos of their own work, but these creative bakers are aways up for a challenge and can create cakes in about any manner people can imagine and dream up. One year family members produced a wedding cake on a scaffold, big enough to serve over 1,500 people at a wedding.
Locals rave in reviews about the great taste, quality, attention to creative detail and prices at Aileen’s Cake Decor. Many say the Passalaqua-made frosting is the best in town. And the reviews are 4.9, just a smidge short of perfect 5 stars for Little Bite of Heaven, for the quality food and friendly service.
The cake shop is located at 1000 W 6th Street in Midtown, open Tuesday through Saturday. They also do catering. (719) 546-2253. Click here for more information and a link to their Facebook page.
Little Bite of Heaven is open Monday through Friday 8 am to 3 pm at 138 W B Street, (719) 545-8044
Photos of cakes and sweets made by Aileen, center, and her daughters (left to right), who help with her cake decorating business, Jenna Passalaqua, Jaelee Passalaqua, Janelle Bruggeman, and Janae Passalaqua. Credit of photo to the Chieftain as provided by family.