And the 2016 winner of the “Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce - Women & Minority Small Business of the Year award” is Kathleen Kenny Davia owner of Gateaux Bakery! Kathleen received this prestigious award on April 29th from the Chamber for making our region a great place to live since she first opened the bakery in May of 1999 in the Golden Triangle. Kathleen says: “Number one – I am a pastry chef who hopes to be in Denver for a very long time, and I am grateful. I love it, I really do!”
Davia opened Gateaux with her original partner, Brad High, whom she met while they both worked as pastry chefs at the Brown Palace Hotel. Brad retired from Gateaux in 2012. Kathleen was only 27 when they opened the bakery, and she says: “It’s all about treating your employees as your family… who have been with me for 6 to 9 years, and it’s about our loyal customers who have watched me grow the business through the years.”
Kathleen comes from a class-act family that has always made giving back a priority. When Kathleen was growing up, her mom, Joanna ran a small catering company, and Kathleen and the other girls in the family helped cater and do the baking. To say that Kathleen Davia is a doer and a go-getter is an understatement. Kathleen has great energy and vision, on the go, getting up early to tend to her bakery, making sure leftover food gets to the designated charities, taking care of her son Rocco, and spending family time with her mom, sisters, and brother.
Kathleen just did a major “facelift” at Gateaux making it even more modern and inviting. Just going in the bakery is reminiscent of being in Paris. It’s not only treating customers to the best specialty cakes and pastries in town – but a treat for the eyes and the senses!
In addition to the recent recognition from the Denver Chamber, Kathleen and her staff have had so much going on during the month of May: Mother’s Day, Cinco’ de Mayo, Kentucky Derby -along with the usual weddings, proms and graduations. No matter how much hustle and bustle goes on in Davia’s world, her business savvy keeps her thriving bakery moving forward. She is nothing short of remarkable - and is selflessy involved in the community.
Blacktie “Have You Met” Pam Savage Sims, owner of Lime Restaurants, leaves us with these kind words about her friend Kathleen: "Kathleen is always working behind the scenes to help others. Whether it is Work Options for Women, There with Care – or her weekly donations of baked goods to the homeless shelter, she gives it her all. She is never the one posing for pictures, but the one running around in the background making sure everything is handled. She creates a very special work place for her staff and has included an employee on the autism spectrum. I think Kathleen Davia is an unsung hero in the culinary community!”
Has being a pastry chef always interested you? Yes. I grew up just "baking" things like cookies and cupcakes… but not cooking! I was in my junior year at the University of Colorado Denver studying to become a nurse, and I saw a kid with a culinary text book… and I had an aha! moment, and I knew right there that’s what I wanted to do. I dropped out of the nursing program, and I started pursuing my career as a pastry chef. My parents were actually very supportive.
Tell us about some of the charitable organizations you are involved with right now? Work Options for Women, There with Care, Divine Mercy, Catholic Hospice; and we are very involved with my son’s school, Most Precious Blood Catholic School. He soon will be going to St. Vincent’s. We have always been involved with several Catholic charities. Gateaux also gives their pastries to Father Woody’s “Haven of Hope” homeless shelter.
Who was instrumental in helping you open your bakery? We got a loan from Mountain States Bank at the time, since they were interested in helping minorities and women in business, and with their help and guidance that gave us our start.
Describe your own personal style? Casual, comfy… love jeans; I actually wear scrubs at work during the day. I have always worn some kind of uniform since I was in school, so I do like to dress up and go out with my husband. I do get quite a few clothes at Mariel’s – and I’m kind of like my mom, I like to glam it up and go from jeans to blacktie!
Aside from your business, how do you like to spend your time? My husband, Dave, and I love to entertain, and we have family dinner parties. We just re-did our outdoor kitchen, and my husband is a great cook! I also love to spend time with my son, Rocco.
What do you try to do to find balance in your life? That’s funny… I take lots of walks, and call my girlfriends and sisters.
How do you stay fit with all those marvelous (tempting) baked goods around you all day? I don’t really have a sweet tooth… I am always surrounded by so much of it. I would rather eat things like chips and cheese! I do need to try stuff out, so usually it’s just a couple of bites. I really have to watch it though, or I will gain weight.
How has your life changed since you first opened Gateaux? I would say the bakery has always come first, I even planned my wedding around my business schedule. I did lose some flexibility, and now I’m working at times when other people are not! You just do your best to work around your business, but you never get away from it… But I do love it, it’s an obsession!
Where do you get your creative ideas for your original cake designs? That is part of our tremendous customer service, so we help them create unique cakes so they can make them their own. Each individual pastry is personalized… We’d be bored if we couldn’t sit down with our customers and creatively draw out an idea and personalize each order.
What have you done to expand your business outside of your store? We are in a couple of King Soopers specialty stores like at University and Hampden, and the King Soopers downtown by Union Station on Chestnut Street. We have a display case there that is convenient for the people who work or live right in the city. We also sell to catering companies, but not as much as we used to.
What do you love the most about the new growth in Denver… how has it changed, and what did you love the most about the old Denver you grew up in? Being a Denver native, I can say I was there before it all went crazy and grew so much. I love all the younger people coming in and supporting our community. Denver is hot! It’s a healthier group, educated - but Denver still has that sense of friendly. On the down side of course is the traffic and the parking issues. My dad had his own business, Kenny Electric, and after work, you could just go home and be with the family… now we are always on our phones, and we are always accessible. You could get off on Friday, and not worry about your business until Monday. Now, I have to always have my phone with me, and have the “camera phone” on so I can see what’s going on at my bakery when it’s closed.
What are some of your favorite Denver restaurants? Elway’s, Locanda Del Borgo on East 3rd and Holly Street, 730 South off of University and Exposition, Piatti’s in Cherry Creek – definitely Panzano’s downtown… and restaurants that are kid-friendly. I am half Italian and half Irish, so I identify more with the Italian part, and love Italian food!
What is a fun night out for you and your husband? We love to drink wine and go out to eat… and we love to travel!
What are your favorite vacation spots? We love to go to Rancho Mirage in Palm Springs, love Chicago, enjoyed going to Europe a few times… and locally – we love the Broadmoor.
Favorite magazine you can’t live without? People. Nothing like taking a relaxing bubble bath, and reading my latest People Magazine!
Does your son, Rocco, love your pastries, and how much do you let him have? Yes he does! I don’t bring home a lot of sweets to the family; they do get some leftovers. Rocco loves the cookies and the cinnamon rolls, but he’s not a fan of anything chocolate… We do make homemade ice-cream when at home. Rocco is getting into cooking and baking. He’s a big kid, not a tiny kid, and lives up to his Rocco name!
What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now? I see myself still being involved in the pastry industry, maybe teaching at a culinary school, taking more time off, being involved with my son’s school, playing more tennis….
About your employees: They are my family. I have a great life. Some days I just want to pinch myself!
A message to all: Be nicer to each other... Treat people the way you want to be treated. Just be kind all around. We live such a crazy rush life.. traffic, kids; and the first person you see sometimes is th easiest to lash out at.. but, be kind and think about it before you do.
How do you want to be remembered out there? I want to be remembered for being a great boss and treating my employees like family, and I hope they appreciate what I did for them… I want to be remembered for being a team member, and my employees felt like they owned part of Gateaux… and it’s all been a collaborative effort.
Gateaux Bakery Information: www.gateauxpastries.com