When brides-to-be make appointments at Amaru Confections for tastings, they sometimes crave more than cake.
Until recently, the Boise Bench bakery couldn't always satisfy them.
"They would say, 'Hey, could we bring a bottle of wine?' explains Chris Wyatt, who owns Amaru with his wife Aimee, a pastry chef. "Or 'Do you have a glass of champagne?' "
Last year, the Wyatts had an aha moment.
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In November, Amaru acquired a beer and wine license. Amaru began experimenting with glasses of alcohol paired with cake slices, cupcakes and cookie desserts.
On May 4 during a First Friday celebration, Amaru will formally introduce its new restaurant concept: Amaru Custom Cakes & Dessert Bar.
At about $8 total for a 6-inch-tall slice of four-layer cake and a pint of craft beer, or $10 with wine, it is now rather difficult to drive past 217 S. Roosevelt St. without stopping.
"Come down here after having dinner Downtown," Chris Wyatt says. "Cap it off with a piece of cake and a pour."
Pairing craft beer with sugary treats isn't entirely uncommon. The STIL recently opened in Downtown Boise with scoops of ice cream and flights of local brews.
The Wyatts had been pondering opening a dessert restaurant for the past three years, Chris says. When they visited one in San Diego that suggested wine, beer and champagne pairings, their alcohol epiphany occurred.
Locally, The STIL helped push them over the edge, he admits: "I thought, 'Heck, if an ice cream store can serve ice cream with beer ... ."
Amaru puts the icing on the dessert-bar cake. The bakery's decadent menu of 18 cake and 18 filling flavors is complemented by four taps of local and regional beer and two taps of local and Northwest wine. More options are available by the bottle.
Ease your fork into a dense slice of Mexican mocha chocolate cake with chocolate ganache filling. Take a sip of dark Kona Vanilla Thrilla imperial stout.
Prefer wine? Try white chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream filling matched with Coiled Dry Riesling.
"You can pair our gluten-free cider with your cake," Wyatt adds. "We have an entire gluten-free bakery on site."
That might surprise Boiseans unfamiliar with Amaru's ambitious custom cake operation. Started in a one-bedroom apartment in 2000, Amaru has grown into a business with 13 full-time employees. Amaru opened its retail bakery in 2013. In addition to that spot, Amaru runs a commercial warehouse in Garden City.
The Bench location has been remodeled to facilitate its restaurant evolution. Amaru Custom Cakes & Dessert Bar should be able to seat about 35 inside and 30 more on its newly expanded outdoor patio, Wyatt says.
In a fresh marketing attack, he also plans to align Amaru with dating services such as Tinder.
Meeting an online match? A coffee shop can feel cheap. If the couple doesn't click, a spendy date at a fancy steakhouse can drag on torturously.
"Here you can get a glass of beer, a glass of wine, a piece of cake, a nice dessert ... and you can be in and out for $20," Wyatt says. "Or you might stay four hours and spend $100! That's kind of our niche with this idea.
"Or you might have been married 50 years and want to do something new," he adds.
“We anticipate a lot of excitement around the bakery’s dessert and drink pairings,” Wyatt says. "... We've had a really positive response on it so far."
▪ Summer hours starting May 4 are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.
▪ Online: amaruconfections.com.