Dalishas Bakery & Cafe still thriving after 17 years, credits support at Farmers’ Market for success

Alisha Hardison, owner of Dalishas Bakery & Cafe, started her business out of her home in 2006 by creating specialty cakes. She was both a newlywed and a new culinary school graduate and took a leap from being an art teacher to pursue baking.

“I’ve always loved baking and cooking since I was really young,” she said. “My mom is an amazing cook and had me in the kitchen with her from as far back as I can remember. Both of my grandmothers were also fantastic in the kitchen, so I’ve always been surrounded by a love of food my entire life. It’s what brings people together.”

Over the years, her business has gone through many different phases and continues to grow in different ways.

When she outgrew her home business, she moved into a brick-and-mortar space where she continued to do specialty cakes, had readily available baked goods, and also a cafe-style lunch.

In 2019, she moved the business back into her home and started her first season at the Owensboro Regional Farmers’ Market.

“The Farmers’ Market welcomed me with open arms and gave me a place to call home,” Hardison said. “Without a doubt, if it weren’t for the market, my business would not exist today. It provides me with every part of being a culinary business owner that I love. I’m able to focus most of my energy on actually making things and interacting with the public … the atmosphere at the market can’t be beat.”

Hardison’s customers have followed her through every step of the journey, and she said she has been overwhelmed by the generosity of not only her customers but also her fellow market vendors.

“It truly is one big, supportive family,” she said.

In 2022, Hardison started teaching both in-person and virtual classes to at-home bakers locally and around the world.

“I demystify baking and decorating for people by making it feel accessible and giving them the confidence to succeed,” she said. “Teaching and the farmers’ market have been my favorite phases of my business, by far.”

The biggest change her customers have had to accept is that she no longer does specialty cakes for events.

Someone once asked her what her favorite aspect of owning a business was and her answer was “people.”

“That still rings true,” she said. “If it weren’t for my customers, and now students, Dalishas wouldn’t exist, period.”

Hardison said her time at the farmers’ markets lets her get to know her “regulars” beyond a surface level.

“I love seeing former wedding couples become market customers and watching their families grow,” she said. “I love meeting new people and getting them to try something that they may not have chosen on their own and then have them come back again. I love interacting with students and seeing their excitement that they were able to create the things they did. There aren’t adequate words to express how grateful I am to each person who has ever spent a dime to support me.”
Hardison will be offering in-person classes starting again this fall and throughout the holiday season. She is also preparing to launch a new website where people will be able to read her blog, sign up for classes, see what’s going on at the market, and more.

Hardison won’t be at the market on September 9 but will be back every weekend until it closes for the season. She typically will post a preorder every Monday prior to the Saturday market.

Originally published in Owensboro Times
presented by Independence Bank
Meghann Richardson
September 9, 2023