For the last seven years, the Vista's busy evening dessert bar Kaminsky's and a newer Lexington dessert bar have ruled the dessert scene around Columbia.
A mother-son duo hope to emulate that success just across the river from downtown.
Breakfast at Ruiz, a breakfast spot on State Street near West Columbia staples like Terra and New Brookland Tavern, will begin using its breakfast café as an evening dessert bar Sept. 16.
The duo, Iris Perea and her son, Joshua Andino, opened the café in late June of this year after operating Cake Collection Boutique for about five years near Irmo. The cakes and sweet treats from the cake store will be featured at their dessert bar.
"It's another way to express our creativity. We're excited for people to try our family recipes that have been in our family since 30 years," Andino said.
The dessert bar will only be open on weekend nights. The spot will serve a variety of cakes — from red velvet cheesecakes to gluten free cake offerings — and other sweet treats as well as dessert cocktail offerings and wine.
Perea said the dessert bar will have a handful of dessert martinis from an espresso martini to flavored ones like salted caramel and strawberry shortcake. The restaurant will also offer wine pairings with certain desserts — like white wines with birthday cake and red wines with more chocolate-heavy dishes.
The dessert bar joins a growing list of spots in Columbia that specialize in evening dessert — just across the river in Columbia, Charleston-based dessert spot Kaminsky's has operated in the Vista since 2015, and not too far from the downtown area, a Lexington dessert bar and coffee shop, The Haven, opened up in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dessert bars appear to be something Columbia has a market for, according to Matt O'Hara, who owns The Haven in Lexington and started it after hearing customers at his Irish pub, O'Hara's Public House, express interest in after-restaurant desserts.
"I was surprised by the number of times that I heard guests say, 'No, we're not going to have dessert because after dinner, we're going into town and we're going to go to Kaminsky or we're going to Nonnah's to have cake,' " O'Hara said.
"That just kind of hung out there with me. I was like people are really going to get in their car from Lexington and drive into Columbia to go to a dessert joint?"
The dessert spot, The Haven, he opened in an existing coffee shop in the summer of 2020 has largely found success on weekend nights when people don't want to end their nights early, he said.
Up until 2019, Kaminsky's wasn't the only dessert spot downtown — Nonnah's, a decades-old bakery and dessert bar used to operate just across the street from Kaminsky's before the owners chose to retire and shut down the restaurant.
The recipes from Nonnah's are used at O'Hara's spot today.
Given the success that other spots, like Kaminsky's and The Haven, have seen, Andino and Perea hope to capture the same thing for the West Columbia community.
"Columbia is growing ... we're starting to see a lot more versatility in food so having the dessert bar with our take on it, with our flavors is something that we've always wanted to do," Perea said.
The dessert bar is located at 116 State St. in West Columbia and is open 6-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For brunch, the spot is open 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.