Photography by Liesbeth Powers.
Ask Audrey Dixon’s friends what she wanted to be when she grew up, and they’ll say a bakery owner.
And that’s what she did. For Dixon, who was born and raised in Arlington, baking chocolate chip cookies with her mom, Sandi, was a weekly occurrence. That, and an addiction to the Food Network, pushed her toward a career in baking.
Perhaps the most direct link between Dixon’s past and her current role as owner of J. Rae’s bakery on Lovers Lane is her aunt, Jana Howell, who opened the first J. Rae’s in Fort Worth in 2008.
Howell suggested Dixon open a J. Rae’s during dinner. “I already have the concept,” she told Dixon. “Why don’t you just open that?”
Dixon was certain she wanted the bakery to be somewhere in Dallas. A couple of months after opening in Preston Hollow, our neighborhood has treated her well.
“They’re just so welcoming,” Dixon says, “and everybody genuinely wants you to do well around here.”
Dixon has stayed true to many of her aunt’s ideas, but she’s put her own spin on things. Many of the recipes, such as those for the sugar cookies, are her aunt’s, but the two women have worked together to tweak some recipes. The lemon bars and Funfetti cupcakes are Dixon’s own creations.
Similarly, Dixon kept the iconic black-and-white stripes on one of the interior walls, but she selected a light pink subway tile to give the store a modern look and used that as the starting point for the store’s design.
Although Dixon has been baking since she was a kid, often asked to make chocolate chip cookies when company came over, she’s still learning and improving her skills. After burning and messing up her fair share of treats, she realized the importance of consistency and following recipes. And as a chronic stress baker, Dixon has found that lesson to be therapeutic.
She still shows up at the bakery between 7 and 7:30 a.m. every day, and she still bakes. She’s working on getting better at decorating, icing and piping, something the store employees have to do regularly to meet the demand of the best-selling sugar cookies, which come in a variety of shapes and are topped with brightly colored decorations.
After the sugar cookies, customers love the top-shelf chocolate chip cookies and the white chocolate cheesecake. In bakeries, top-shelf cookies are named for their placement on the upper racks of display cases. But J. Rae’s places top-shelf cookies below the more popular sugar cookies.
The hardest part of opening during a pandemic was getting a permit from the City of Dallas. After 17 weeks of waiting, J. Rae’s finally received the approval needed to start building.
Attracting customers, on the other hand, wasn’t a challenge. Dixon says they’ve been busy, and she still has five or more people each day coming in and saying they used to love visiting her aunt’s Fort Worth bakery.
“I think it’s a huge testament to my aunt,” Dixon says. “I thought some people would know about it, but I didn’t realize everyone would know about it.”
J. Rae’s, 5600 W. Lovers Lane Ste. 143, 214.654.0833