One summer, my friend and I were exploring a few stores in the Collinwood Arts area. For context, Collinwood is a place that embodies grit and scrappiness, but also a need to create and express. There are large, edgy murals that coat the sides of old residential buildings. There are a few newer stores alternating with older kitsch or empty spaces. The roads even capture the grit – the main road has been under construction for a while.
So while we were walking on the street, bypassing a record shop and local CLE goods store, we suddenly smelled something sweet in the air. Looking around, we didn’t see any signs or markings for where it was coming from. For more context, my friend and I are very susceptible to baked goods (or anything that smells like food in general.)
We stopped and asked each other, “Wait, do you smell that??”
“Where is that coming from?”
“I think it’s coming from behind that door… try pushing on it!”
Impulsively, we pushed on the door. We had a moment of incredulity as it gave way. Inside, there were stainless steel appliances, chairs that were turned upside down on tables, and two elderly African American women mixing large amounts of batter. They welcomed us warmly.
We had just stumbled upon a pound cake bakery. Not just any pound cake bakery, but one that sells 55 different varieties of pound cake!
We nodded in response as the two women shared with us all the different flavors: vanilla, strawberry, lemon, chocolate, double chocolate… and if we brought in our own rum, they would make a rum-soaked walnut pound cake. “But don’t eat too much cause you might get drunk!!”
We stood, staring at each other, mouths agape, maybe even slightly drooling… We couldn’t believe we had found this place, and we wondered how many others knew about it. More like, how many others should know about it.
I don’t recommend pushing on most unmarked doors in Cleveland, but sometimes, they lead to hidden gems.