After 13 Years, CakeLove closing on U Street “to Focus on New Line of Business”

by Prince Of Petworth December 17, 2015 at 9:45 am 51 Comments

1506 U Street, NW

Ed. Note: I know some people joke about CakeLove today – but for those who weren’t around – when CakeLove first opened on U Street back in the day they were the absolute shit – they were the bomb – they were the bees knees. If you got someone CakeLove for their birthday – you were a hero. They were also the ones who started the cupcake revolution in DC. Like I said, we joke about it now (hell I joke about it often) but CakeLove did an awful lot to turn around this section of U Street back when there weren’t tons of reasons to visit U Street unlike today. So props to the CakeLove team – we kid – but I have nothing but respect for what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve done for the resurgence of U Street and the District.

In January 2012 Love Cafe closed across the street and is now Mediterranean Spot.

From a press release:

“CakeLove, a DC-based cake bakery founded in 2002, is launching a new online store this month in response to significantly increased demand for its premium grab-and-go dessert, CakeLove in a Jar. To facilitate CakeLove’s growth and expansion, the company is shuttering its long-time U Street location.

To mark the start of this great new chapter, CakeLove is hosting a party on Saturday, Dec. 19, from noon to 3 p.m. to celebrate its 13+ years at 1506 U Street NW with neighbors, friends, fans and supporters.

The launch party will include a cake-cutting ceremony to mark the official launch of a new CakeLove, free giveaways of CakeLove’s new product, CakeLove in a Jar, and a raffle of several autographed cookbooks by CakeLove’s founder, Warren Brown.

“The closing of CakeLove’s flagship location marks a new beginning for us,” says Brown, who left a career in law to start his own business 15 years ago. “For several years, CakeLove has been transitioning away from its brick-and-mortar stores and developing a new line of grab-and-go premium desserts. Our goal is to expand beyond the greater DC metro area and into more supermarkets and specialty grocery stores across the nation.”

CakeLove in a Jar is already available in a number of grocers on the east coast, including Whole Foods across the mid-Atlantic, Mrs. Green’s, Kings Market and Balducci’s in the New York metro area, numerous independent grocers in the NYC tri-state area, plus specialty grocers like Glen’s Garden Market and Union Kitchen Grocery here in DC. It is also available through its online store at www.cakelove.com, in select Springhill Suites, and on Norwegian Airline flights.

Customers in the DC region will continue to be able to order CakeLove’s signature layer cakes through www.cakelove.com. Those cakes will be available for delivery or pick-up from the U Street location before December 31, 2015. After the New Year, cakes will be available for delivery or pick-up from CakeLove’s new warehouse space at 4940 B Eisenhower Ave, Alexandria VA 22304, with additional pick-up points around the DC metro area to be determined.

The hours of the U Street shop for the last week of December are:

Dec 24, 2015: 8:30 AM to 3 PM

Dec 25-28, 2015: closed

Dec 29-30, 2015: 8:30 AM to 5 PM

Dec 31, 2015: 8:30 AM to 3 PM”

  • Seems like a real fall from grace. I loved the cafe across the street for double date nights or a place to work from during the day. Warren is a great guy, I wish him lots of luck and success.

  • Anon

    I would love to see a bakery like Cake Love come to a neighborhood that is under served when it comes to bakeries. Petworth comes immediately to mind. Tons of families and density. Cake Love can’t compete with the over the top food options on 14th St and U St. They’re are still good. They’re a solid bakery. They just need to change locations.

    • ANUN

      Did…did you just say that a bakery should come to that area? You must be new to the area.

      There were bakeries there, but a lot of them closed because of the high rent in places that were taken over by other people.

    • TX2DC

      There is a bakery in Petworth, Flip It, so I would not say the area is totally underserved.

      • Anon

        Yeah mean the Flip It with weeks old pastries? Have you actually eaten them? Sometimes they even taste like cigarette smoke.

        • Andy

          that is a feature, not a bug

    • So, Just Sayin’

      I moved to town in 2004, when CakeLove hype was in full force. It was hip, hot, and happening, but I couldn’t understand how anyone could possibly love their dry ass cakes. I guess taste finally overcame hype.

      • GPDC

        Yes! I moved here in 2005, EVERYONE was still hyping this place – and I just could not understand it. Dry, crumbly cakes. I always wondered how they stayed in business this long.

    • Anonymouse

      “I would love to see a bakery like Cake Love come to a neighborhood that is under served when it comes to bakeries…”
      Cake Love WAS the bakery that came to an underserved neighborhood. That neighborhood was U Street…. you’re saying it should do the same thing all over again, but with a different neighborhood?

  • Philippe Lecheval

    Despite how popular it is to whine about them, Cakelove still makes really great cakes. Or at least they did the last time I ordered one from them, about a year ago.

    • Caleb

      I agree–they are a different kind of cake, compared to Georgetown Cupcake, but they have a nice dense cake with thick buttercream frosting.

      I will miss seeing them on U St. and the handful of times a year I actually stopped in for a snack. Mostly, I appreciate the footprint and contribution they made to Washington early on in the city’s revitalization. .

      • dcd

        Saying a baked good is better that Georgetown Cupcake isn’t exactly setting a high bar – much like saying you’re the best hockey player in Ecuador. Repeat after me – Baked ‘n Wired.

      • Caleb

        I didn’t say CL was better than Georgetown CC. I agree–B&W wins over both…I also enjoy Cake Room more.
        Georgetown CC’s repeat business and line tells a different story though, from all of those who love to call them out on their lackluster product.

  • distritera

    The end of an era indeed! Not sure what I’m missing but why do people joke about CakeLove these days? Not as good as it used to be, or just so last decade?

    • Anon

      Also curious…

    • K

      I was curious too. Why the jokes? And who is making them? I’ve only ever heard good things about Cake Love. Although, I am one of those people who remembers them when the first opened and went on many dates and girl’s nights to Cafe Love way back when. So I only remember them fondly.

    • KP

      I think it took the trajectory of some other DC bakeries or food spots…was really good, got a ton of hype, gets a little lackluster, labeled “overrated”….I don’t know Cakelove well enough to say if the criticism was warranted, but that’s how it seemed.

      I don’t live in the neighborhood so I only went a few times but always liked it and I wish the owner best of luck.

      • dcd

        “In today’s performance, the role of textdoc will be played by the Prince of Petworth himself.”

        • TinkerTaylor

          Spending too much time here if that makes me laugh as much as it did!

        • AJSE


        • Smilla

          Hah! Very funny and astute observation!

        • textdoc

          Just now seeing this. LOL!

  • Eleven

    One of the first times I came to DC without adult chaperones, it was to see Maroon 5 and Gavin DeGraw at the 930 Club in 2003. One of my friends was very in-the-know, and she insisted that we go to hotspot Cake Love before the show. I don’t remember what I got or whether it was good (and can’t say I’ve been to Cake Love since I’ve lived in DC), but I love that memory.

  • TinkerTaylor

    More than a decade ago, back when we were young and new to DC, we would take visitors from out of town to Ben’s Chili Bowl + Love Café for a gut-busting night. Haven’t purchased from Cake Love for a few years, but use some of the recipes from Warren’s cookbook.

  • dcd

    Yes, I echo the good wishes. Warren was a year behind me in school, and it was huge news when he made the People Magazine 50 most eligible bachelor list – next to Matt Damon, I believe. Cake Love was indeed a huge success – and delicious – when it opened. They baked our wedding cake in 2003, and I am just realizing that my daughter has never been there. Hopefully I can remedy that in the next week before they close. P.S. – I LOVED their eclair.

  • Anonymous

    I love the comments that lament a business’s closing, particularly the ones that say, “I haven’t been there in years.”

    • dcd

      Please google “nostalgia.”

    • Anonymouse

      Some people want to live in Disney-fied version of a city where storefronts exist solely for their aesthetic pleasure without ever having to worry about how those places can be sustained financially.

      • Philippe Lecheval

        You know, that’s the sad reality of DC today: I really think that many of the people who have arrived within the last five years or so actually prefer the new, sanitized version of DC.

        • Patrick Division

          “Today, children, we’re going to learn about Lowest Common Denominators. I know you think it’s a math term, but let’s see if there are other ways we can apply the concept. OK, how many of you eat at TGIF, Fig & Olive, or Rosa Mexicana?”

  • Cakelove opened a few months after my husband and I moved into our house a couple of blocks away. The grand opening, in June of ’02, was a party in the MA Winter building’s gravel parking lot on U. Free samples, music, and a generally fun time.

    We occasionally bought cakes for family events. And once the cafe opened, we used to go there for dessert from time to time. The cupcakes were pretty great as long as you let them warm up before eating them…something that was obvious even before Cakelove put up signs telling people to do so!

    But this closure has been a long time coming. I wish Warren well with his new direction, but I’ve never once been tempted by the jar o’ cake.

  • Anon

    I still love CakeLove. The Salty Caramel, which I think was originally called the 44 in honor of President Obama, is one of my favorite cakes. I was lucky that my friends got it for me for my birthday just last week. They also really had an impact on that stretch of U Street when they opened up. I wish them all well in their next endeavors.

  • MarkQ

    CakeLove > Milk Bar

    • west_egg

      In so, so many ways. All of them in fact.

      • Rich

        They are both just variations on the same theme. Overrated and pricy. I like that CakeLove guy is a fellow Clevekander. It’s one thing for New Yorkers to get DCers to buy overhyped stuff, but when someone from a less glamorous place does it, the satisfaction is even better. Granted DC lacks good traditional bakeries in general, but the bar for a lot of food here is pretty low.

  • Egad

    Well stated, Dan. Cake Love was indeed “the bees knees” back in the day before businesses needed to have lines out the door in order to be cool.

  • PoP, in other bakery news, can you find out what is going on with Paisley Fig’s take-over of the Heller’s space? It looks like NOTHING is happening.

    • sophie

      Give it a year (from now) assuming everything with the owner and DCRA works out. Never happens over night.

    • Jeff

      Probably going to be at least a year since these days it takes 6 months to get drawings and permits.

  • Andy

    I want to second everything in the PoP commentary – if you didn’t experience what U Street used to be like at its worst, it’s hard to imagine the minor miracle that CakeLove’s existence seemed to be.

    Maybe it would be like a trendsetting restaurant opening up in historic Anacostia and doing huge business and getting big press all the time.

    Everybody appreciated CakeLove, even if (like a lot of people I think) the big to-do about the frosting was kind of hard to understand (it’s cake, people). I remember going to CakeLove and getting a dessert and a coffee and a little table with my girlfriend (translation now-wife) at LoveCafe and thinking it was tremendous just to be there.

    Now, places trying hard for a hook and an atmospheric vibe are all over and especially all over this neighborhood. Maybe CakeLove anchored the runaway success of U Street, maybe not, but it certainly was a place I appreciate in the evolution of DC.

    So pour out some buttercream for CakeLove. We’ll see you at the Crossroads…… or whatever the kids would write these days.

  • Anonymous

    I moved to DC in ’95 and probably stated regularly partying on U street in ’98 and I remember Cake Love opening, the lawyer turned baker story got a lot of press. What I can’t remember is what was at that location before Cake Love. Anyone know?

    Anyway I met Mr. Brown at a charity event and he could not have been nicer and 13 years is a damn good run! I wish him well and I hope he bought the building.

    • otberbur

      I have lived within three blocks of 15th & U for 23 years, and I don’t recall any prior occupant of the current CakeLove space lasting for more than 18 months. I have a vague recollection that in the late ’90s or early ’00s it housed a hot dog stand. The space is not particularly deep; it obviously worked well for over a decade as a cake bakery, possibly could be a gallery or tiny coffee house, but it wouldn’t work well for most retail.

      • Steve

        I think that you may be recalling (but trying to forget) the truly awful “Chicago style” hotdog place that opened at that time on the west side of 14th St. below U. The market did its magic and the place didn’t last.

        Those of us who have been in the neighborhood for a long time we’re excited when Cakelove opened. But way way overpriced cakes at cupcakes are truly “not sustainable” in any sense. If you grew up anywhere where there are decent bakeries where the prices were not crazy, you know what I mean. The New York area, including the boroughs and the burbs had plenty.

  • jcd

    I moved to the neighborhood shortly after they opened. They were quite good, and there were very few nearby alternatives, even given a generous definition of “nearby.” BakeHouse, the other new coffee places on 14th Street, Le Caprice, Pleasant Pops Cafe–places that made or served good pastries–were years in the future. I really liked CakeLove’s pound cakes, particularly the spicy ones with cayenne pepper. Those cakes were very popular at the party and work events I brought them to. My patronage of them fell off over the past few years, as places with different selection opened, but I would still go to them for cupcakes and the occasional cake. I met Warren briefly a few years back, and second the opinion that he’s a good guy. I’ll miss them, and wish them good luck in their new business venture.

  • Brooklander

    thank you CakeLove! You made my special occasions extra & special.

  • Renee

    Horrible service and even worse cakes. Cakes in a jar? He stole that idea from Shark Tank people. The owner was so arrogant when you complained about his tasteless “cakes” that y=tasted like wax, he would trash you and say you didn’t eat the cake at room temperature. What a pile of BS, we did eat the “cake” at room temperature and after a taste we tried to give it to our dog and he wouldn’t eat it either and he loves to eat practically anything!

  • danielle

    cake love had nasty ass dry cupcakes. they were horrible. i wanted to like them and tried on many occasions but they were just not good at all.

    • me

      I would have to agree with you on the cupcakes. But you should have tried their cakes. Their cakes were absolutely DIVINE, my favorite was the strawberries & cream cake.

      • I’m glad you liked our cakes! FWIW we’re going to continue making our layer cakes available to the DC market. They’ll be available for delivery or pick-up from our new Alexandria warehouse near the Van Dorn metro. We’re also working on adding other pick-up points in the city so that, hopefully, it’ll be easier than ever to get CakeLove cakes in the future.


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