Dismissed Strip Employee Turns Passion For Keto Cooking Into Business

Red velvet cupcakes, bespoke cakes and almond joy bombs fill the bakery window. Each is made with Jill Shlesinger’s passion – and free of sugar and gluten.

The treats are all sold at Starburst Parlor, a new keto-friendly bakery that opened last week in Las Vegas.

The idea came to the owner and the baker after years of baking and a layoff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shlesinger said she worked as a general manager at a strip café and cocktail bar for more than 10 years, but was brutally fired when the company was sold in 2020.

Shlesinger began cooking feverishly when the city closed the Strip to satisfy her own cravings for something sweet, she said. She sticks to a keto, or low-carb, diet to help treat her polycystic ovary syndrome and has noticed that many sugar-free or gluten-free products taste like protein powder and cost “around.” $ 60 ”.

Once she was fired, friends encouraged her to turn her pandemic hobby into a business. She and her partner began selling the baked goods while assembling the brick and mortar location at 2202 W. Charleston Blvd.

Shlesinger said it was the passion and courage that put the bakery together. She and her partner have spent the past year spreading the word through pop-up sales and repeat customers while earning money to fund the bakery without a bank loan, which might not have happened. possible if his previous employer had remained in business.

“Without work, it came to fruition,” she said.

Shlesinger’s story mirrors others across the country. Census Bureau data shows Americans filed documents to start 4.3 million businesses in 2020. In Clark County, business applications increased 27.2% from 2019.

The mid-century vibe is also unique to the Starburst Lounge. Stepping into the bakery is like stepping into a decades-old kitchen. Shlesinger and her friends faithfully live a vintage lifestyle, with 1950s and 1960s household goods, cars and more. She brought that to her bakery as well – the pastel walls and equipment to the house. old reminiscent of this era.

The bakery is meant to be a one stop shop for those with dietary restrictions. Beyond baked goods, Starburst Parlor also sells sugar-free ice cream and gluten-free pizzas and bagels. Shlesinger’s recipes frequently replace typical flour with almond or coconut flour.

“It’s literally like living a dream,” she said. “I meet people every day who say that I am helping them. Cancer survivors, celiacs, diabetics, people on keto, people who have had a heart attack – they all want what I wanted.

But for customers, finding such items elsewhere in the Las Vegas Valley is another story, Shlesinger said. She said she knew very little about other gluten-free or sugar-free bakeries, let alone one offering both.

“If you have a gluten allergy, there’s like another bakery. But then say your other half is sugar free or diabetic – it gives them the best of both worlds, and everything they can have.

The Starburst Lounge is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

McKenna Ross is a member of the body of Report for America, a national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms. Contact her at [email protected] To follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

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