You can’t spell funnel cake without the word fun. This delightful dessert made of fried dough is an amazing treat for people of all ages. This sweet treat is often sold during the summer months at amusement parks, carnivals, or other festivals, limiting access to those who love them. However, Tavares and NaKesha Davis have given the public access to funnel cakes every season of the year! In a recent interview, The Chicago Defender had a chance to sit down with The Funnel Cake Man to get a closer look into the black-owned family business.
The Chicago Defender: How did The Funnel Cake Man begin this journey?
Tavares: The idea came from being in a long line at Great America. When I would go, I would stand in a long line for rides. Great America generally closes after Fright Fest, so I was thinking, where do all these people get funnel cake when they’re closed? I looked around and wondered if the line for funnel cake is this long every day (I’m pretty sure it is) and thought what if we brought funnel cake to people like this all year round. People wouldn’t have to wait for a fair or have to travel all the way to Great America for one when we can sell them at a standard location where people can have them all year. From that idea, we tried it out at the Bud Billiken parade (2014/2015) and got good feedback. People loved the product, so we took the proceeds from that day and started duplicating the products we had at the parade and started things from there.
I placed stickers on the back of my truck for advertising and people would start calling. They would ask if I could have funnel cakes right in their backyard for a party and we did. From there, things moved quickly from us catering to private parties to corporate events. It moved so fast that the business literally took me away from my job because the funnel cakes became so popular.
The Chicago Defender: How many locations do you have?
Tavares: We have two locations, Southlake Mall and Orland Square Mall. Someone gave the mall one of our fliers as I guess they went to our website and Facebook page and saw the things we do. They called us and said they think it would be a good thing for the mall (Southlake) and we went from there.
NaKesha: We’ve gotten invitations from a number of local malls, River Oaks, The Fashion Outlets, Woodfield Mall, and a few others. We’re excited about the traction for the business is really starting to move.
The Chicago Defender: Why did you choose to sell funnel cake versus a more “traditional” dessert African-Americans usually sell?
NaKesha: I think because it’s something different that we enjoyed, something our entire family enjoyed.
Tavares: I’ve always had a hustler’s attitude. When I first thought about doing this, I thought about how much money it costs to make them, and how much could we make out of each one that we make/sell and we realized that this is a profitable margin and everybody loves it. We didn’t want to target one race with our products.
The Chicago Defender: What is the secret to your success?
NaKesha: One that it is family-owned, that our batter tastes different from a normal funnel cake because we make our own batter, and because we put a fresh spin on the toppings (more than 20 options) making it fun for everyone, and then they’re made fresh. We took a dessert that originated from the Dutch and we see other cultures making them, but how many African-Americans have you seen do this? I think when we put our own spin on it by combining traditional dessert flavors to funnel cake (red velvet, banana pudding) to make it fun and different.
The Chicago Defender: What’s the most popular flavor?
Tavares: The most requested topping/funnel cake flavor is the banana pudding funnel cake. It’s one of a kind.
The Chicago Defender: What is one thing you want people to know about The Funnel Cake Man and this black-owned family business?
NaKesha: We want people to know that we’re hard workers, we’re family-oriented, and we sacrifice a lot to make the business work. When you think about The Funnel Cake Man we want you to think family-owned, we want you to think about the entire experience, the customer service, the toppings and we want to continue giving our customers the wow factor when they come to the store or when we cater.
Red Velvet, banana pudding, apple cinnamon, Oreo cookie, and more than twenty toppings to choose from. If you love funnel cake and notch customer service, The Funnel Cake Man is the place where you need to be. For more information on their services and other sweet treats, visit their website at www.thefunnelcakeman.com
Liz Lampkin is a Lifestyle, Love and Relationships writer. Follow her on social media @Liz_Lampkin.
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