By Samantha Lambert
The first sense that is awakened upon walking in Cakemasters Bakery in Fort Walton Beach is your sense of smell. The sweet smells of cakes, cookies, and pies hits you first. Then your sense of sight is enticed by the array of cookies, pastries and breads arranged in the glass cases. Wonderful memories start to come alive in your mind of Sunday morning breakfasts of crumb cake and Danish.
Bob Schomburg and his wife Elizabeth opened Cakemasters on Beal Parkway in Fort Walton Beach in March 1971. “We were living in Mobile at that time and Dad would come over here on weekends to fish,” says Bob and Elizabeth’s daughter Lisa. “He loved fishing and the Gulf. The building that housed the bakery was found by a fine lady named Louise Stone.”
Lisa says her parents acquired only half of the building at that time and that when they opened the bakery on Beal, her mother found an old Coca-Cola sign and painted Cakemasters Bakery on it.
“Everything was woods in that area back then. Our first customers were a child and his mother walking through the neighborhood. The child told his mother he smelled a bakery, and they came in and became regular customers.”
Bob, who passed away in February at age 81, was a third generation master baker by the age of 21. Bob’s father and grandfather were both born in Germany and trained in baking. Bob’s father came to America in the early 1900s and settled in Philadelphia, where he ran a bakery for 30 years.
When Bob was eight years old and working in his father’s bakery, he started studying the old world traditional style of baking. After finishing his apprenticeship, Bob worked at different ethnic bakeries. He learned baking styles from different cultures such as German, Italian, Polish, French, Cuban, Jewish and Spanish.
Lisa started working in the Philadelphia bakery when she was six. At age 10, she was doing the cleaning in the bakery, and at 14 was working for a paycheck. She graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in 1978. In 1999, she left a successful business career with an international gingerbread manufacturer to return to the family business.
Lisa also became a master baker and worked side by side with her father making wonderful baked goods until his death. “He loved baking, his customers, and he loved having his picture taken,” says Lisa. Elizabeth Schomburg passed away in 1999.
In May of this year, Lisa had to vacate the building in which Cakemasters Bakery had been located for 45 years. Bob Hope Village offered its kitchen so Lisa could fulfill wedding cake orders. Other longtime customers stepped up to help her in any way they could.
Today, Cakemasters Bakery is back and better than ever. The new address is 105 Beach Drive, near the intersection of Eglin Parkway and Racetrack Road behind the Pizza Hut building.
“Growing up in Fort Walton Beach, our family always went to Cakemasters for our bakery items,” says local Marie Slade. “As an adult, I chose to make Cakemasters my go-to bakery. From birthdays, graduations, and my parents’ 50th anniversary, Cakemasters made the cake. I was elated to hear that Cakemasters had opened in a new location.”
Linda Mubarak and her children, Tariq and Fida, stopped in on the day Lisa was being interviewed for this story. “I love this bakery!” says Mubarak. “I come here for butter and cream cakes and cinnamon rolls which are so delicious.”
Lisa says the custom-made cakes are the mainstay of the bakery. There are dozens of different cake flavors with almost any flavor of filling and icing that you want. “At Christmas, we sell tons of cookies. The ragulah cookies are very popular.”
She adds that her personal holiday favorite is the Christmas Stollen, a mixed-fruit sweetbread. “I have it every Christmas morning with my coffee and sit by the tree,” says Lisa. She recommends that customers order early for their holiday goodies.
For me, Cakemasters brought back sweet memories of growing up in Fort Walton Beach in the 1970s. Some things never change.