It's hard to calculate a loss like this. How do you measure warmth, conviviality, a sense of welcome, an always interesting mix of people, eclectic servers, and wonderful, heartwarming food? How do you calibrate a sense of home? Of a place that satisfied your belly and your soul? That was relaxed, fun, colorful and faithfully reflected the Marigny, the New Orleans neighborhood it served so openheartedly.
Steve Himelfarb and Becky Retz, owners and partners. They earned every bit of the popularity bestowed upon the Cake Cafe. The place was packed on the weekends, lines outside, people coming for a substantial breakfast—my favorite: the poetic homemade corned beef hash. There was always robust coffee and a sense that they were glad you were there.
Some things need to be mentioned. Steve's king cake, ranked high in the city. (Those reading this not from New Orleans who want to know what a king cake is, read this.) I ordered one every year. I ate a lot of their celebrated cupcakes, too. But in the interest of not having to buy new pants every six months, I stopped. Nearly.
On the weekends, Steve in back in the kitchen, you were greeted by Becky. She had a small pad, took your name, asking if you wanted a table inside or out. And however crowded it was, you got that table much sooner than later. It was always so heartening to be greeted by her sunny disposition.
I don't like writing this. I don't like the idea of not being able to go to the Cake Cafe any more. Change your minds, Steve and Becky! Don't leave me out in the cold, away from your embrace. Like so many places we come to love and to depend on to give us a big dose of the better things in life, the loss will hit us hard. Has, already.