Stay Sweet, Nicola’s is a special-order bakery featuring designer cakes, cookies, gluten-free, vegan, wholesale and more. Nicola Shartrand and her husband John also own and operate Nicola’s Italian Wine and Fare across the Missouri River in Omaha, Nebraska. When Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh dined at the Shartrand’s Omaha restaurant he tasted Nicola’s Divine Lemon Cake. Thus, the campaign began to encourage John and Nicola to open a bakery in Council Bluffs. In 2014, Stay Sweet, Nicola’s was established.
Location: 805 S. Main Street, Council Bluffs, [amazon_textlink asin=’149302759X’ text=’Iowa’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’theyums-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b24b377f-a476-11e8-8d40-c3fc933a3004′]
Menu: The walk-in coffee and pastry shop offers numerous items perfect for breakfast, or perhaps a light lunch or afternoon treat. A variety of coffees and espressos are offered to pair with the sweet treats. Big Gigi’s casserole is Nicola’s mother’s recipe. (Nicola and John’s daughter is affectionately known as Little Gigi.) The combination of eggs, hash browns, sausage, and cheese served as one big slice is a filling savory option. Coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, zucchini bread, banana bread, scones, and muffins are just some of the sweet options. There is a cookie of the day and a cupcake of the day. Nicola’s Divine Lemon Cake, the dessert that inspired the bakery, made with mascarpone and ricotta cheese, is also available by the slice. If anyone can bake it, Nicola can. She loves to research recipes, and currently experiments with chocolate.
Intrigued by all the requests at her restaurant for gluten-free, vegan and paleo options, Nicola began to investigate the need for these items, and the dietary restrictions of her customers. She offers a wide variety of products for the food sensitive community.
Thoughts: “I’m in big trouble,” a customer confessed to Nicola one day. “I passed off your cake as my own when my grandson visited, and he wants me to make it again!” Believing strongly in the power of “Grandma Cred,” Nicola asked the customer to bring in her own pan. She selflessly made her cake in the customer’s pan and is willing to do the same for others to save the reputations of mothers and grandmothers in Council Bluffs.
If it is truly possible to love people with food, this is the place where it happens. As travelers, the local experience is why we keep packing our bags and exploring new places. There is a re-energizing going on in downtown Council Bluffs. John and Nicola Shartrand are early leaders in the resurgence of the area.
When you stop in for a sweet treat, don’t forget to choose something to pack in your bag for later in the day or tomorrow’s breakfast. A picnic in Bayliss Park with something from Stay Sweet, Nicola’s might just be the best way to experience Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Price Range: Coffees and Espresso $1.50-$4.40 Bakery and Sweets $1-$5 Specialty Cakes and Cupcakes $29-$110s
Disclosure: The writer was a guest of the Council Bluffs Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and Tourism Iowa.
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