For Mercer University alumnus Johnny Washington, pound cake harkens back to the after-church dinners of his childhood held downstairs following the service.
“Somebody always made this wonderful pound cake that was just waiting on me. Nobody really knew who made that cake because it just showed up magically on the table, but it was like the best thing you could ever eat,” he said.
Now, he’s sharing his love for pound cake with others.
Washington, who graduated with his Master of Business Administration from the Stetson-Hatcher School of Business in 2015, and his wife, Stacey Washington, are the co-founders of Atlanta-based bundt·ish, an artisan pound cakery.
Launched in October, bundt·ish offers made-to-order pound cakes that are never frozen and can be shipped anywhere within the contiguous United States. Customizable pound cakes and coffee may be ordered online at bundtish.com.
“My wife and I were avid pound cake lovers, and normally we buy them from a few local places here,” Washington said. “But because of the pandemic, nobody was offering them for delivery at that time. And I said to her, ‘You know what? We should do it. Because nobody else is offering it.’”
Washington, who has nearly 30 years of experience in the food industry, already had a blueprint for a food delivery business from his time at Mercer. In 2014, Washington won third place in Mercer’s Entrepreneurial Festival for his Construction Zone concept, a business that would deliver sophisticated “Yourmet” burgers.
But just as he started to get that business going, in 2016 he started to experience major health issues. In 2017, he had a heart transplant. He spent the next several years focusing on his recovery.
“Life had taken a lot of moments from us that we normally would have had,” Washington said.
Creating bundt·ish was an opportunity to start to get those moments back.
He and his wife got to work creating pound cake recipes and converting the burger business model to fit their new concept.
Washington is the CEO of bundt·ish and is responsible for the operational part of the business. Stacey Washington is the president, and she’s responsible for outreach and creative concepts. She also bakes, though they contract with an agency to bring in help when they need it.
Johnny Washington said Mercer changed his way of thinking.
“It helped me get a better understanding, first of all, of how operations work and the connectivity of operations where marketing and sales, for instance, are not two separate things. It’s all one. Finance is not a separate department. … It’s a part of the marketing and a part of the sales, and they’re all intertwined and interrelated and interconnected,” he said.
He recalled advice from a professor to “work on your business not in your business.”
“That’s been like the overarching philosophy for my wife and I,” he said. “So, we’re creating a business, but we’re building it from the binoculars of, ‘How will this translate to someone else who will eventually have to do this job?’ It makes us, even now, think about our processes we’re putting in place, thinking about how we can make them simple and easy.”
A business school trip to Europe also helped him understand that everyone sees business differently.
“There’s no one way to see it or one way to do it,” he said. “I told my wife, and I tell her this often, that the only thing that we’re married to in this process is each other. We don’t get tied down to a product. We don’t get tied down to a process because we have to be willing to change as we see the need.”
One thing that’s unlikely to change is Washington’s own love for pound cake. Among the flavor options offered by bundt·ish — including chocolate cookie crunch, lemony-blueberry and very very vanilla bean — is a cake called the church lady classic.
It’s Washington’s favorite. The old fashioned-style pound cake pays homage to that faithful and unknown church lady who delighted his taste buds so many years ago.
“One bite and you’ll remember your first love for pound cake,” the online description notes. “Amen!”
Mercer Made is a series in which we feature notable people, businesses, products and inventions connected to Mercer University.