Can I return food items if I don’t use them?

Unfortunately, no.  The Health Department strictly prohibits the return of food items to be sold as new.  It’s not that we think you would do anything to the food items that would taint it or harm others, but how could anyone be sure that someone else wouldn’t?  Pila’s Pantry is a licensed, commercial kitchen facility that adheres to strict food safety requirements.  Food items come to us fresh and protected, and we in turn provide it for sale to our customers fresh and protected.  In short, we always ask ourselves the simple question:  “Would I want to buy food items that have been out of a stores control?”

Common items people want to return:  Chocolate or buttercream icing.  Usually because they “over buy” to make sure they don’t run out while working on a given project.  Sorry, not our fault. When asked for advise in the store, we try to give our customers safe estimates of how much to buy for a given project.  They’re just that…”estimates”.   We try to help based on a customers experience level, how we would approach the project ourselves, etc.  Luckily, chocolate lasts about 6 ~ 9 months at room temperature, a year at an ideal 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and two years or more frozen. (Do Not store chocolate in the refrigerator).  Buttercream made from shortening and sugar will last a year covered and at a typical room temperature.  Contaminants such as water or cake crumbs will ruin it pretty quickly, so don’t decorate too close to your fresh, open buttercream containers.

Do you print edible images if I bring in a picture to be scanned?

Sorry, no.  We did in the past, but if you don’t print often enough with those food coloring based printers, the inks dry up and jam the print heads.  Most often we get the edible pictures we need done at the local grocery store bakery.  Some will help you, others will only do it if you buy their cake.  Honestly, it just seems to depend on who’s working there in the bakery that day.  Some are trained to use the equipment, and most aren’t.  However, the store bakeries that can help usually charge $6.00~$10.00 per sheet (7.5” x 10”) and NO ONE will copy and print a licensed, copy write protected picture, so don’t waste your breath asking.  IF you are interested in purchasing a food safe, edible image printer system they run several thousands of dollars from makers such as Decopac, etc.  But a small, affordable, home-based system can be secured from a company called Kopy-kakes for under $250.00 (www.kopykake.com).  And NO, you cannot use your regular inkjet printer ink on rice paper and call it “edible”.  It turns out that regular printer ink is poisonous and having your family and friends die after eating your cake is a bad thing.  Who knew?  Oh, and by the way, … We have a stack of gummed-up, destroyed printers if anyone’s interested…

Do you accept credit cards?

We sure do!  Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express and Debit.  We also still accept checks but will charge you $25.00 minimum or 3 times the value of the check as provided by law if it bounces for Non-Sufficient Funds.  AND we’ll turn the bounced check over to the District Attorney’s Fraudulent Check Department pretty quick if you don’t take care of it in a timely fashion.  Oh, and that green stuff called “CASH” that no one uses much anymore…yeah, we gladly still accept that as well.  “Plastic debt rules!”

Why don’t you open earlier? I can see your staff in there working before and after store hours, so why can’t I come in and look around?

Plainly put, we’re an active bakery and teaching facility in addition to selling supplies during regular business hours.  That means that when you see us in there before shop hours, we’re probably working on cakes or re-packaging product to stock the shelves for that day.  Sorry, we’re not trying to be rude.  Short of closing the blinds on our windows, we’re working on projects that can’t get done while trying to also devote our attention to our beloved customers.  Thank you for your understanding! We may wave to you if you’re face is pressed up against the window and you’re tapping your watch, but our shop hours are pretty reasonable and we’ll be open during those times.

Do you ship out merchandise?

Yes.  We take phone orders from all over the country and ship within a day or two.  We typically ship via UPS Ground, but if you have your own shipping account, we’ll gladly use that instead.  Here’s how it works:  You can call in your order or e-mail the order to pilaspantry@aol.com.  We’ll pull it, pack it and let you know how much the product and shipping will be for the order.  Once your credit card or other form of payment is received, we’ll ship out your order.

I’d like to be a Cake Decorator.  Are you hiring?

Have you ever watched those TV shows about fancy cake shops? Do you ever wonder why it seems that they don’t have very many new faces in the bakery? And if you do, it’s the guy or gal that does the clean up or is preparing the cakes by filling them or covering them with fondant?  Well, quite honestly cake decorators understand that it takes time to “earn” a position as a decorator, or “Artiste” in the bakery.  For example, you may be new to decorating or even a pretty good decorator, but no reputable bakery is going to let you decorate until you’ve prep’d a ton of cakes for someone else in the kitchen first.  Sure, it sounds wrong, but decorators are a funny breed.  Pila is pretty picky about her work and the work of her crew.  When it’s your name going out on every cake, you want it to be just right.

So to answer your question…maybe.  The best thing to do is to leave a resume with a dozen or so pictures of your typical decorating work.  From there, if you get hired, the ladder starts with learning and packaging merchandise, then on to clerking and helping customers with their projects, next onto 6 months or so of prepping cakes and finally into the elite circle of decorators! (Well, that is of course if one of the other decorators dies or gives up their place in the kitchen….)

Why do your cakes cost so much?

We’d like to say that all of the cakes we do are “Never seen before…ART”, but the truth is, we’re more frequently hired to do a cake based on a picture of someone else’s original art.  (More often than not, they copied their creation from someone else’s ideas as well).  Regardless, “sugar art” takes time, talent and experience.  Most of the steps involved in baking, filling and preparing cakes for decorating are tedious and routine.  We follow recipes, shop out the best ingredients and make hours of preparations before we even start a project.  Our prices are based on time, materials and the difficulty level of the project.  We want your cake to be “just right” to ensure you’re happy on your otherwise stressful event day.  Sure, Costco or some other grocery store bakery charges less for their rectangular, basic cakes, but when you see our custom, made-to-order you’ll SEE and TASTE the difference.  Pila’s Pantry has a great reputation and is well known for its quality and affordability.  We take on the hardest of cakes and can literally do just about ANY cake you may have seen on TV or in a magazine.  We not only decorate, but we teach hundreds of students every year  AND we sell the latest and greatest tools and supplies available.

To order a custom cake or confection from Pila’s Pantry, we typically need two weeks advance notice.  During “Wedding Season” (February ~ June) the notice may even be longer.  We apologize if some weekends are totally booked up and we have to turn away your business, despite the notice time.  We’re trying to make changes in the bakery to accommodate more of your requests.  Our minimum cake order is $100.00 and most wedding-style cake designs start at $4.00 per slice (2.25” x 1” x 4”).  Feel  free to e-mail over your cake request to pilaspantry@aol.com for a quote, or stop by either store to look through thousands of cake pictures to choose from.  We’ll even work with you to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece!

Do you offer cake tastings?

Yes.  We’d love to meet with you to discuss your cake needs.  How we do this is as follows:  First, we verify that the date you need for your cake is available.  And second, we’ll schedule a date and time that we can meet to taste cake and discuss your order.  Typically, we make appointments on Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays when we have fresh cake available for you to sample.  You see, we provide samples to you from the tops of the actual cakes we have going out that week so you’re tasting our real work and not a prepared “taster cake” that may be very different from our actual production cake.  Of course, we’ll also be glad to bake you up a sample cake if the flavor you want isn’t available that day.  Just give us a little heads-up notice first.  In addition to the moist and delicious cake you’ll sample, we’ll also have a myriad of cake fillings and frostings to sample.  Typically, we’ll provide cake filling samples of French Bavarian Cream, Raspberry, Strawberry, Lemon, Cream Cheese, Coconut Cream and Chocolate Cream.  (Other fillings can be made ready for you with some advanced notice.  Additionally, you’ll also be treated to chocolate and vanilla buttercream and our rolled Fondant.

How far do you deliver cakes? And how much is it?

In general, Pila’s Pantry serves the Inland Empire.  We go as far North to Rancho Cucamonga, South to Pala Casino, East to Moreno Valley and West to Anaheim Hills.  When you think about it, would you really like your showpiece cake being driven a really long distance on California freeways? We’re the best at what we do, but let’s just say that California drivers, bumpy roads and a few high speed police chases have contributed to a couple of mangled cakes here and there.    When we transport your cake, we’ll take every precaution to make sure it gets to its destination safely and in perfect condition.  We’ll set it up and get it picture for just $45.00 for the first 10 miles from our shops, and a dollar a mile thereafter.

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