Grand Cakes

Baskets in the Belfry to close after 33 years

June 9, 2011 // 0 Comments

Owner will stay surprisingly near as Polly’s Passions by BETH ALTENA The Baskets in the Belfry famous chocolate fountain may be gone forever with the closing of Baskets, a Rockford icon of business, but owner Polly VonEschen and her candy business Polly’s Passions, will remain remarkably near. When Baskets’ doors close forever by the end of this month, Traci Webber of Grand Cakes will transition from her current Courtland Street location to 18 Bridge Street. There VonEschen will use the kitchen to create her amazing sea foam, toffee, peanut brittle, turtles and a wide variety of truffles. “Once I made the decision, it was a relief,” said VonEschen, taking care to point out that she is all right with the decision to close, although it is bitter sweet. VonEschen came to Rockford because of job transfer for her husband’s work. New in town, she first met Chi Chi Rogers, former mayor and city council member. Rogers begged VonEschen to put her name down as entertainment chair for the Start of Summer Celebration, claiming the work was all done and they simply needed a name on the form. VonEschen has been an organizer for Start of Summer ever since, and this is her 24th year. “They had me in charge of the entertainment, and the band for the dance tent was the German Oompahs,” VonEschen said. “I couldn’t leave and let them think I’d done that.” Turns out the German Oompahs, while amazing, aren’t the best choice for a dance tent band. VonEschen, like Baskets, is a fixture in Rockford, and extremely involved in the town, the business community and service groups. She is a Lion, is active in the Heart of Rockford merchants association, an organizer for the Girlfriends Staycation, has organized Think Pink, and been an organizer for Rockford’s Harvest Fest. She is a board member of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, the Rockford Area Community Endowment (which brings the West Michigan Healing Fields to the area this year for an amazing 9/11 memorial), is on the Downtown Development board, and the Healing Fields board. Baskets was purchased from the store’s original owner, Paula Sedrowski, in 2005. “Paula was ready to retire and I wasn’t,” VonEschen said. She had worked in the business for […]

Letters to the Editor — December 2, 2010

December 2, 2010 // 0 Comments

Reader praises RPS allergy action Dear Editor, I am the leader of a local parent support group, Rockford Food Allergy Network. This fall, we approached the administration of Rockford Public Schools, requesting a written policy to give guidelines for handling children with severe food allergies for the district. They were very cooperative and have written a policy which will not only help to keep kids with life-threatening food allergies safe, but it will streamline the process of setting up safeguards for kids. It also contains tools which will give new parents more guidance when sending their children who face this disability to school for the first time. Not all schools have a written policy and, if they do, they may not have had the foresight to write the policy with the help of parents who deal with this issue on a daily basis. Rockford should be applauded for the willingness to serve the needs of all their students and their dedication to a safe learning environment for everyone. This policy will be presented to the Rockford School Board at the school board meeting on January 11, 2011. I think it would be wonderful if RPS received some positive news coverage for this. Roxanne Meyers Local businesses have huge hearts Dear Editor, We all know that Rockford is an unusually wonderful place to live, and we’ve already got plenty of reasons to feel this way, but I’m going to give you another one. A couple of our local businesses will melt your heart when I tell you how big their hearts are. A few weeks ago I called Tracy at Grand Cakes in downtown Rockford to ask how much baked goods would cost for a bake sale that a few Valley View parents were working on to benefit the McGee family. I explained a little about the McGees and all they’ve been through (Dad has dealt with cancer off and on through the years, Mom has health issues, both sons have Mitochondrial disease, their home is in need of costly repairs, their washer and furnace recently konked out… there’s more, but you get the idea), and there it began. Tracy ended up donating HOURS of work, not to mention TONS of baked goods to help […]

Grand Cakes is now open

July 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

The long-awaited cake bakery is baking up a storm. Grand Cakes, 124 Courtland St., downtown Rockford, offers free coffee every morning, warm scones, soft cookies, chewy brownies, coffee cake, whole or slices of cakes and pies, cupcakes, huge muffins, ice cream cakes, and cheesecakes by the slice, too. The bakery also offers cake pan rentals, cake supplies, and chocolate fountain rentals. Their Cake of the Month Club offers a special cake each month. Kids can have cupcake birthday parties on Saturday afternoons or Sundays and Mondays. Grand Cakes is kicking off their grand opening by offering a contest. Any bride who places a wedding cake order for next year will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a lady’s engagement wedding ring set. The set is 14 karat yellow gold and contains a marquise-shaped major diamond and 14 baguette-shaped diamonds. The drawing will be held January 1, 2010, and the winner will be announced at the bakery. The appraisal value is $750 and the ring set is on display at Grand Cakes. A free wedding photo album is also being given to each bride. Grand Cakes is locally owned and operated by Tracy Webber, a 28-year Rockford resident with two years of college culinary experience who has “baked all my life,” she says. The bakery is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Saturday afternoons and Sundays and Mondays are reserved for parties and wedding consultations, and are by appointment only. For more information about Grand Cakes, visit, e-mail to, or call (616) 866-2292 or (616) 481-0398. Webber says, “Please stop by, even if just for the smell of it!”