Stacey Eames has owned the popular Highland Bakery in the Old Fourth Ward for seven years now and this summer opened a satellite store in Midtown at 14th Street and Crescent Avenue in the 1180 Peachtree building. Another satellite store is set to open soon at the Atlanta Financial Center, also on Peachtree, where the old Starbucks was located.

Managing the store’s growth is key in these tough economic times, but it’s no wonder people keep clamoring for more of Highland Bakery’s pastries, bread as well as full menu of sandwiches and breakfast.

“We’ve been adding so many elements — this is a customer-driven business,” says Eames, a lesbian. “I love our customers, trying to fill a niche for what they are asking for — authentic, down-to-earth good food.”

Highland Bakery makes award-winning cakes — and satisfying food

Highland Bakery is a great place to have brunch during the weekend as many people will attest, but the restaurant continues to garner national attention for its cakes — specifically cake decorating on the Food Network Challenge.

In September, cake designer Joshua John Russell with assistant Karen Portaleo, who is also Eames’ life partner, won the Food Network Challenge with their recreation from “Beauty and the Beast.”

On Halloween night (Sunday, Oct. 31), Portaleo is the lead cake designer along with Russell for another Food Network Challenge based on the theme “urban myths.” The duo is also filming another challenge to be aired at a future date.

Portaleo is self-taught, Eames says, and came up with the decorative cake component for Highland Bakery.

And while the spotlight on this aspect of the business is important, cooking with fresh, local ingredients, meeting the needs of customers and putting out a quality product is the main mission of this lesbian-owned business.

“When I walk into the dining room and the diversity of the guests — families, hip-hop stars, a table of gay men, elderly people — that’s my favorite part of this business,” she says.

“It’s a ‘Cheers’-like atmosphere. We want people to walk away with more than a satisfying belly full of food. We want them to walk away with a great experience,” Eames adds.