Walking into Nothing Bundt Cakes on West Davis Street in Conroe, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. Everything about it exudes warmth and joy, from its friendly staff with wide smiles to the colorful cake displays placed around the store. There are examples of decorated cakes for every occasion, from graduations to birthdays to Father’s Day, and the display case shows off many sizes and flavors of Bundt cakes, from Red Velvet to Blueberry Bliss.
I have to admit I didn’t expect the cakes to be that special. Growing up with a mother who made spectacularly decorated made-from-scratch cakes for every birthday, I was spoiled. I have spent my adult life disappointed over and over again by cake mixes and bakeries alike, to the point where I told my husband to not even get me a birthday cake anymore.
This year, however, I was given a Chocolate Chocolate Chip “Bundtlet” (individual serving Bundt cake) from Nothing Bundt Cakes for my birthday. As soon as I took the first bite, I knew I was hooked. Light and fluffy, but still rich and chocolatey, with just the right amount of velvety cream cheese frosting, the Bundlet brought back memories of childhood birthdays filled with love and laughter and the kind of chocolate cake I hadn’t had in decades. From now on, I know where my special occasion cakes will come from.
Calling a bite or two of cake a life-changing experience might sound a little far-fetched, yet that is exactly how Bill and Carol Green ended up with three of the Houston-area franchise locations of Nothing Bundt Cakes, including the one in Conroe.
After selling his business, Bill was looking for a new entrepreneurial venture while Carol was still pursuing her corporate career. One day, someone at Carol’s office brought in a Bundt cake for a meeting. She took a bite, and it inspired her to look up Nothing Bundt Cakes online, where she saw they had franchises available. She called her husband and son Josh, who had graduated from Texas Tech with a restaurant and hospitality management degree. At first, they shook off the bakery idea as “kind of girly,” but they agreed to go and try the cakes for themselves.
“They got their Bundtlets, went to the car, opened them up and tried them. Then they called me and said, ‘Okay, we’re in!’” explained Carol.
It wasn’t long before Bill and Josh donned aprons and became the first two male trainees at Nothing Bundt Cakes, not just learning how to manage and market the business, but also how to bake the cakes. Soon afterward, the family moved down from Dallas to open the Houston Galleria location.
In 2010, the Galleria store represented the company’s early growth, as location #30. The Green family’s store in West University was the 71st Nothing Bundt Cakes location. By the time Bill and Carol opened the Conroe location in April 2020, Nothing Bundt Cakes had 330 locations, and today it is nearing 400 nationwide. The company’s explosive growth hasn’t affected its home-grown feel, however.
“There are 13 locations around the Houston area,” Bill said. “It’s a really close franchise. We all get along, and if any of us need anything, we reach out to the others for help.”
Within the three locations the Greens own and operate, each family member has his or her own role. “Bill is responsible for the back of the house – the baking, frosting, training people – and he is our maintenance guy, going between all three of our locations,” Carol explained. “I do the accounting, and Josh manages the managers down in Houston.”
“He (Josh) isn’t in the bakery as much as he used to be. When we were first getting started, we lived and breathed it 24×7,” Bill added. “Because, when we first opened in the Galleria, no one knew who we were. If you hadn’t been to Dallas and been to one (Nothing Bundt Cakes location), you wouldn’t know who we were, so that first year was tough. But now, just about everyone has heard of us.”
While it was difficult getting the word out about the Greens’ first location, their third location in Conroe has had different challenges, as its opening coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. By the time their build-out was done and they were ready for permitting, everything was starting to shut down.
“We literally got the very last health department permit in Montgomery County before they stopped issuing them. The guy came by, did our inspection, handed us our permit, and then said ‘Okay, we’re done.’” Bill said.
Carol said it was hard to find employees to work when the Conroe store first opened. Their younger son Mitchell, a land manager, was in between jobs due to the downturn in the oil and gas market and agreed to come help for a while. They found high school and college students to staff the front of the house. And if the pandemic didn’t make it challenging enough, they opened two weeks before Mother’s Day.
“It was crazy. It was the busiest Mother’s Day in the history of the company, nationwide,” explained Bill. “People were lined up all the way around the corner of the building to the dumpster in the back.”
Nevertheless, they didn’t run out of cakes. “We worked all night and then all the next day to make sure we delivered on all our orders,” he continued, adding that all the cakes are made fresh onsite.
The top-selling flavor is Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Lemon is popular in the spring, and each month they introduce a short-run flavor which is available for six weeks to two months.
“Strawberries and Cream, which we recently finished up, is a big favorite. In June, we have Blueberry Bliss, which is like eating a blueberry muffin, and in July we will have Lemon Raspberry,” Carol said.
The Conroe store’s manager Devon Bernal, who was hired in August 2020, not only makes sure the retail operation runs smoothly, but he also handles the franchise’s robust marketing and community relations program.
“We donate cakes to a lot of people working through the pandemic, like at city hall and first responders at the hospital and the fire department. It’s our way of saying thank you for all they’ve done,” explained Devon.
“We love doing stuff with the schools,” added Bill. “The administration building here in Conroe loves us!” he said with a chuckle.
“We set up a reading program where the kids get rewarded for reading books, and when they read a certain amount, they can come in and get free Bundt cakes,” Devon expounded, adding that they donate cakes for Teacher Appreciation Week as well.
While Josh is content to stay in Houston, Bill and Carol are Montgomery residents, so their business is an investment into their new hometown. They hint at the idea of opening yet another location but won’t say where.
“We really can’t say,” Carol says. “It’s still in the dreaming phase.”
Bill and Carol may not want to talk about where their dreams will take them next, but I won’t shy away from sharing one of my dreams. I am already imagining my next family birthday party, which will include a special treat from Nothing Bundt Cakes!
Nothing Bundt Cakes
1351 W. Davis, Conroe, TX