If you want things done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself. What started off as an answer to a simple problem has turned into a 30-year career for Rascia Johnson, owner of Rascia’s Creative Cakes in the Carmel Arts & Design District.
Johnson said that when her kids were growing up, she wanted them to have the “most magnificent birthday parties,” but at the time, elaborate cakes were hard to find.
“There wasn’t a lot of focus on cakes,” said Johnson. “You would go to the baker and you had white or chocolate, maybe yellow. There wasn’t a lot of diversity. If you wanted something extreme, you had to come up with it yourself.”
So Johnson decided to take matters into her own hands, literally. She started making elaborate cakes for her children’s parties and even spent a few years working with other bakers to learn decorating techniques before eventually opening her own shop.
Rascia’s Creative Cakes opened in South Bend, Ind., but Johnson decided to move the shop so she and husband, Bob, could be closer to their two sons and two grandsons. The store is now located at 328 W. Main St. in Carmel, where it has been since December. Johnson said she is happy to have her shop in its new location.
“I love the Arts & Design District. It just drew me to it,” she says. “I’ve been watching this area for a few years now, and I love the way it’s evolved – I can walk down the street to the butcher or the tea shop. It’s just nice.”
Johnson specializes in cakes for birthdays, weddings and other special events, and her cakes range from simple to elaborate. She has sculpted cakes of logos, pets and famous landmarks – a wedding cake modeled after the Empire State Building is one of her most memorable creations.
There isn’t much that Johnson won’t do with a cake. “It really depends on the customer,” she said. Recently, Johnson said she’s been approached by a storm chaser who wants her to make a tornado cake.
In addition to cakes, Johnson sells cookies, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls and other treats. But she doesn’t just have treats for her two-legged customers – Johnson’s store also features a walk-up window for dogs.
“It’s been really fun having the dogs stop by for a treat at our doggie walk-up window,” she said. “It’s getting to the point where they’re stopping as they walk by because they know they can get treats here.”
Johnson said business at the new location has started slowly, but there have been improvements.
“Every day we notice it getting better,” said Johnson.
She expects business to pick up when the weather improves and as local festivals get underway. She thinks Carmel customers will enjoy her cakes for the same reasons that her South Bend customers did – “(My cakes are) high quality and taste as good as (they) look.”