Full-service bakery opens in Dining Hall West

Comet Cakes, a new on-campus bakery service, opened on the first day of classes and is located in Dining Hall West. Customers can place orders for dessert items in person or over the phone. Photo by Srikar Sudarsan Baskara | Mercury Staff.

Students and faculty will now be able to purchase customized desserts on campus thanks to a new bakery service at UTD called Comet Cakes, which opened in Dining Hall West on Aug. 21.

The Comet Cakes menu includes cupcakes, cake pops and tiered, round or sheet cakes. All of the desserts can be ordered and delivered to customers from Dining Hall West.

Shawna Bass, director of residential dining, and Carrie Chutes, director of dining services, came up with the idea for the on-campus bakery. The dining directors wanted to provide students and faculty with a convenient “one-stop shop” to purchase bakery goods.

“We spent some time during the summer looking for upgrades for the dining hall, and a lightbulb went off in our head,” Bass said. “Since we have some chefs who are talented bakers and cake decorators, we thought, ‘Why don’t we be like other boutique cupcake places and do our own?’”

Designed at first as a service targeted for freshmen, Bass and Chutes expanded the idea to include all students and faculty.

“Since the majority of meal memberships are for freshmen, we thought it would be a great way (for them) to celebrate each other in the residence halls, order cakes for birthdays or for their peer advisers,” Chutes said. “But then we realized that people would even love to do that in their offices or bring a cupcake to their meeting. It’s an exciting and creative way to create new traditions.”

Chutes and Bass said they hope that the new bakery service will provide the university with additional convenience in dining, as people will no longer have to go off campus and purchase a cake.

Briana Thomas, an international political economy freshman, said she is eager to use the “quick and convenient” service.

“We have a tradition of picking out and cutting a unique cake for each of my family members’ birthdays, so the fact that (a bakery service) is available here, it’s pretty great,” Thomas said. “It will really tailor to people’s busy college schedules.”

Biology freshman Meghna Pinnaka said she looks forward to ordering a cake from the bakery service. Although she is a commuter, Pinnaka said she believes the service will be useful to her.

“It’s cool for people living on campus, since it will be really convenient,” Pinnaka said. “But even for me, if it’s my friend’s birthday or a special event, I can easily get a cake instead of having to go out somewhere and get one.”

The Comet Cakes bakery is one of several new additions coming to Dining Hall West this year. Chutes and Bass said that on-campus diners can anticipate facilities including a tortilla machine, a smoker for meats to be cooked fresh in-house, a rotisserie and custom dispensers for condiments and utensils built around columns in the hall.

“These types of facilities are what set us apart,” Chutes said. “The dining hall is not just a cafeteria — it’s an experience. We have so much more to the program, along with our green certification, vegan and vegetarian options for students, gluten-free station and food and recovery program.

Chutes said the main goal of these amenities is to “improve and enhance everyone’s experience” in the dining hall.

“We are at a university and it’s an extension of education that we’re doing. It’s nice to have something you enjoy eating at the dining hall, and because of Comet Cakes, you can take it home with you now.”

Prices range from $15 for a dozen cupcakes to $60 for a sheet cake serving 96 people, varying based on design preference. Most cakes require only a 24-hour notice; cakes with a monogram, logo or picture require 48 hours. Customers can call the dining hall to order a cake or place an order with the cashier.

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