Do you need a wedding cake, birthday cake or just a cupcake? Lady Ray’s Culinary Delights has this and more.
Just west of Target, at 833 Harbor Boulevard in Destin, Rachel Vondel, aka Lady Ray, said it serves “sweet and savory.”
Lady Ray, who opened Memorial Weekend, is a joint venture between Rachel and her older brother, Tim.
“It’s a bakery, boutique, and custom cake shop,” Tim said, noting that the shop’s previous owner, Bake My Day, was known for custom cakes.
“We’re trying to expand on that,” Tim said.
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Both from upstate New York, Tim moved to the area nine years ago, while his sister moved to Florida, but further south in the West Palm Beach area.
“We always wanted to open a restaurant,” Tim said.
And when the Bake My Day store went on sale, it was the perfect spot for two store openings.
And although 80 percent of their business right now is cake baking, “we try to show people that it’s a lot more than just a cake shop,” Tim said, noting that they offer an all-day menu of breakfast and lunch items.
The café is open from 7 AM to 2 PM on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. However, they do custom orders throughout the week from cakes to sandwich plates.
The lady behind the apron
Rachel, who picked up the nickname Ray at a young age, earned her bachelor’s degree from the Culinary Institute of America.
She began her journey with the Ritz-Carlton in hotels from New York to New Orleans.
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“It was quite a cultural change,” Rachel said, as she moved to New Orleans.
From there I moved to Palm Beach County in South Florida, where I worked in mom-and-pop stores and privately owned venues.
Then I went into event planning and started serving food.
“I got to know all aspects of the industry…I really liked it,” Rachel said.
Then in 2020, COVID-19 swept across the country and people were no longer holding big events.
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“It gave me the freedom to go back to the kitchen, my first love. So, I went back to cooking and pastry.
And when Big Brother Tim found the bakery shop in Destin, four years ago, “It was like all the stars were lining up and I could move in here and be near family again. Go back to the pastry world,” said Rachel.
And at Lady Ray, “We do a little bit of everything here. I don’t like to do anything in big batches, everything is small batch, manually and in small quantities, very customer specific. We can customize anything for the customer,” she said.
Lady Ray’s All Day Menu
From croissants and cupcakes to avocado toast, they can all be found on the All Day Menu.
“You can have breakfast for lunch. Tim said they make everything fresh…everything is handmade.
Lady Ray is known for her Croque Monsier, which is grilled pork and cheese on sourdough with melted Swiss cheese on top.
“It’s exceptional,” Tim said.
“We make it super durable,” she said, noting that they stacked high.
Other items on the All-Day Toast menu include the Acai Bowl or Croque Jr. It is grilled cheese on sourdough.
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Lady Ray also offers five different types of cupcakes and three different types of croissants. Includes classic vanilla cupcake. 24 carrot cake, with pineapple and walnut with cream cheese frosting; Chocolate Decadence, filled with chocolate mousse covered in chocolate frosting; pistachios stuffed with raspberry jam and covered with cream cheese; And a raspberry cheesecake, with a raspberry cheesecake filling and cream cheese.
“I don’t like to do anything plain…everything has a bit of a play on it,” Rachel said.
As for the croissants, Lady Rice offers a traditional croissant, one stuffed with chocolate and chocolate buttercream on top, then a croissant seasoned with Crazy Ed’s spices from upstate New York.
In addition, they have baguettes and sour dough.
Lady Ray also serves up lattes and specialty drinks as well as cookies and coconut candy made in a tropical boom, take off on a Key Lime pie.
“There was a lot of prescription testing,” she said.
“There is stuff here for everyone,” Tim said, noting that they had Lady Ray clothes, Crazy Ed seasoning, protein bars, coolers, and even sunscreen.
Lady Ray on the move
At the moment, the front of the cafe is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. But as they build their team, they hope to add more days.
“Nirvana for us is to have the store open five days a week. Once we have all of our construction finished, we will be closing our doors on Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” Tim said.
This is the brothers’ first “real” adventure together.
Tim said that in 2014 they started a small line of ice cream and did a little side business in the South.
But Destin’s Lady Ray’s is their first “storefront.”
“I felt it was our destiny to do it…it’s just the right size,” Tim said, noting that they hope to continue the business and open another store in Miramar Beach or Santa Rosa Beach in the future.
But it’s not easy, said Tim, “you can’t just throw someone in the kitchen and say ‘make a bake’.”
Rachel says they were very busy in the short time they were open, noting that three and four weeks were booked with donuts.
However, she said, they could absorb some things at the last minute.
“We don’t want to bring up something that doesn’t meet our standards,” Tim said.
Lady Ray delivers from Destin Bridge to 331 Clyde B Wells Bridge in Walton County.
“We’re going to deliver…from kids’ birthdays to wedding cakes and everything in between. We’re ready to do it all,” Tim said.
For custom orders, Lady Ray’s has a form that patrons can fill out online by going to https://lady-rays-culinary-delights.myshopify.com.
“It’s a fun and exciting design,” Rachel said of many baked goods.
She said, “This is the little kid… It would be great to see this grow up.”