Jill McEnroe never planned to peddle Frannie Franks, a locally produced, handmade coffeecake bearing the name and likeness of her mother.
It all started when McEnroe couldn’t afford to buy a decorated cake for her boss’s birthday and went digging for her mother’s coffeecake recipe instead. “My mother cooked everything from scratch,” she says. “I remembered we used to have her coffeecake for special occasions.”
McEnroe took one of the comforting, extra-moist yellow cakes sprinkled with cinnamon streusel to work and sent another to her husband’s office. The positive feedback was overwhelming, but she didn’t want to take out a business loan or quit her job as a graphic designer. She eventually began baking her cakes at the Ennovation Center, a popular commercial kitchen in Independence where many local food entrepreneurs get their starts.
Her first wholesale account was a slam-dunk, with Dean & DeLuca back in 2011. Sales have climbed 600 percent in the past four years as she continues to add flavors, including cinnamon, toffee, chocolate chip and her latest, coconut.
She recently got her cakes into Hy-Vee stores. Curiously, the Hy-Vee on Shawnee Mission Parkway stocks the coffeecakes in the meat department. “It’s so crazy, it might just work,” McEnroe says.
Meanwhile, Frannie Franks is a semifinalist for “Shark Tank,” ABC’s reality show about self-made tycoons who invest in promising businesses and products.