SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! NewsChannel 9 is continuing to highlight members of the AAPI community and how they’re making a difference throughout Central New York.

This week on Asian Americans Standing Strong, Adrienne Smith introduces us to the owner of Cake Bar, Duyen Nguyen.

When she was 21-years-old, Duyen and her family moved from Vietnam to Syracuse in 2012.

“The first three months, I was kind of excited. It’s a new thing. Everything is really new. You see a lot of things that are interesting and then after three months, I got really upset because the life over there and the life over here is totally different.”


Shortly after settling in Syracuse, Duyen attended and graduated from Onondaga Community College to become a graphic designer. Little did she know, life would have different plans.

Duyen and family

In 2019, Duyen went back to OCC in 2019 to get a culinary management degree. One year later, Cake Bar was born!

“My mom used to own a bakery in Vietnam when I was really little. I would’ve never thought me and my mom would have the same thought about what we were going to do in the future!”


Duyen never expected to follow in her mother’s footsteps and own a bakery here. Her mom, Diep, owned a popular bakery for more than 20 years in their home country.

At a young age, Duyen and her younger brother would have to go to the bakery and help. That’s when she learned how to bake and decorate cakes.

“Other kids could go to school, go home, do homework and then hangout with friends. Instead, we actually had to help her with a lot of stuff at a really young age. I think that helped me a lot.” Duyen said.

In January 2021, Duyen was one of the first vendors chosen to have a stand in Salt City Market.

“When we wrote the business plan, I talked to Adam a lot about how I wanted my own spot. That’s why I told him I wanted a really small spot at Salt City Market because I want dessert to be the star.”


Cake Bar’s popularity grew fast! Shortly after launching in Salt City Market, Duyen opened her cafe on West Genesee Street in Downtown Syracuse. There, Duyen and her staff share Vietnamese cafe culture with Central New York.

“Coffee shops are a big part of culture in Vietnam. We have 24-hour coffee shops and over here, everything closes at like 4:00-6:00 p.m. You cannot get any coffee late at night. You want to treat yourself with a piece of cake, a nice drink, then you come. I want you to think about us first.
I’m happy that I came here because this country gave me a lot of chances to grow. It made me stronger because many times I’m thinking if I was in Vietnam, I don’t even know what I’m going to do now or who I am going to be. I’ve met a lot of people here that helped me grow a lot.”


Cake Bar is hiring a full time cake decorator, baker prep and a barista! Click here if you’re interested in the sweet opportunity.