New ‘cakery’ offers more than just baked goods in downtown Kalamazoo

It’s been a little over two weeks since Meka Phillips opened the doors to her new cakery in downtown Kalamazoo.

Already, she’s made friends from all over the city and world, as she’s welcomed them into Dessert First, 220 Eleanor St. on the south side of Hilton Garden Inn.

“It’s been such a warm reception from the city and from everyone in this area,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of people from a lot of different places, from New Zealand to Detroit.

“I could write a book on the new people I’ve met and their stories.”

It helps that Phillips takes as much time getting to know her customers as she does putting love into her creations. Already having made a name for herself for her custom cakes through an online following, she’s now attracting new customers with her affordable breakfast and lunch offerings.

Breakfast options include bacon or sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches, as well as turkey, chicken and vegan sandwiches. All breakfast sandwiches are served on a bagel, English muffin or Texas toast.

If stopping in for lunch, patrons can choose between chili dogs, three-cheese grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken salad croissants and Buffalo chicken sandwiches. Most non-dessert items are in the $6 to $7 range.

The desserts, undoubtedly, are the stars of the show at Dessert First.

Phillips launched Dessert First as an LLC in 2011 and has watched it flourish from a farmers market hit to an online sensation.

For a baker’s dozen worth of years, she grew her brand, while also holding down a career in banking.

She began by teaching cake-decorating classes at Michael’s in Portage. That morphed into the farmers market appearances. Soon, she was utilizing space at the Kalamazoo Can-Do Kitchen to fill orders of custom cakes for everything from weddings to graduation parties to birthdays.

The cakes are anything but ordinary.

She can do just about anything imaginable, from cakes that look like a turntable to a designer purse.

“I like to put a smile on people’s faces and the cakes make people so happy,” she said.

Having a brick-and-mortar location and her own kitchen has been a joy thus far for Phillips.

Instead of meeting customers in the Hobby Lobby parking lot to hand off a cake, she can now host birthday parties and other events.

With a mix of colorful, low- and high-top tables, along with two bar rails positioned in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, Dessert First can seat 36 customers.

Phillips also utilizes the space to continue her passion of teaching. She puts on monthly themed decorating classes and also leads team-building classes for businesses.

Located next to the new courthouse, Dessert First has filled a gap for attorneys, judges and courthouse staff, giving them a close option for a quick breakfast or lunch.

Upon entering Dessert First, visitors will notice shelves behind the counter lined with cake dummies, featuring extravagant original cake ideas executed by Phillips.

Daily dessert offerings include a variety of cupcakes, mini cakes, pound cakes, cheesecake bars, cinnamon rolls, fruit cups and confetti cake jars.

What’s a confetti cake jar? It’s a jar filled with alternating layers of cake and icing and topped with confetti sprinkles. Also known as cake you can eat out of a jar, on the go.

“I sell a lot of those,” Phillips said with a smile.

Dessert First is open from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The business is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

For more information, call 269-389-9822, visit or follow Dessert First on Facebook.