After managing a now-shuttered Borders bookstore for 24 years, Doreen Drago decided she needed a career change.
Drago and her sister Diana Drago opened Drago Sisters Bakery, 6870 S. Rainbow Blvd., three years ago, and the career change was perfect for the duo.
"We’ve been cooking since infancy," Doreen Drago said. "We just grew up in the kitchen. Big Italian family. A whole lotta cooking."
Their older brother also is a professional cook, but their older sister did not inherit the family cooking gene.
"She’s not allowed in the kitchen," Diana Drago said about her older sister’s lack of cooking skills. "You wouldn’t want to eat her cakes."
Their older sister’s children, however, help their aunts in the bakery, occasionally contributing to the cake designs.
The southwest residents love cooking everything from pastries to pasta.
The plan came about after the two catered Doreen Drago’s stepson’s wedding. They cooked the food, baked the cake and served the hors d’oeuvres. After a friend who attended the wedding asked the two if they would cater her wedding, the sisters from New York City began to formulate their plan.
"We were going to go more with the catering in the beginning, but it was the cakes that took off," Doreen Drago said. "Everyone wanted the cakes."
Now specializing in custom- designed cakes, Diana Drago said they average between 15 and 20 custom cakes a week at around $200 apiece.
The first custom cake they made was a "Toy Story-"themed cake for a child’s birthday party, but they’ve made everything from princesses and "Star Wars" cakes to football and race car cakes.
"Who knew they would be so much work?" Diana Drago said, laughing. "I like doing the real small detail stuff, making it pretty."
Shirley DiBiase owns Eddie D’s, an Italian deli next door to the bakery, and is the sisters’ self-proclaimed biggest fan.
"I’m tellin’ ya, it’s amazing how they put all those cakes together," DiBiase said. "And they look so real."
Their cake-building skills come from their father, who worked as a contractor.
"The cake designing process takes some serious planning," Doreen Drago said. "You actually have to build the cakes."
The sisters also used the skills their father taught them to lay the tile in the store, install the self-designed ceiling panels and hang the shelves.
Drago Sisters Bakery also sells pastries, cupcakes and various other baked goods, accounting for half of their profits.
According to Doreen Drago, the bakery is busiest in the fall when the weather is cooler and people host more holiday parties. To gear up for the season, the sisters are adding a third refrigerated display case and plan to hire more staff.
Doreen Drago said she would like to open another location, but to make custom cakes out of two separate storefronts would be nearly impossible.
Currently, the sisters are the only ones who run the bakery, and Diana Drago also deals blackjack at MGM Grand at night.
"(Opening the bakery) has been a positive experience," she said. "It’s been a good choice, but I’ll find out from my accountant next year if that’s true."
Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Nolan Lister at email@example.com or 383-0492.