If you’ve ever been on the hunt for a special baking tool or ingredient in New York City, you’ve probably been to New York Cake and Baking Distributors on 22nd Street in Manhattan. It’s a bakery supply store that has a reputation for carrying almost anything a baker could want.
It also has a reputation for having terrible customer service, a rude, condescending owner, and an airtight no-refunds-or-exchanges policy that is non-negotiable. No matter what.
Yelp.com’s page on New York Cake & Baking boasts a few favorable reviews, but most of those still mention the less than stellar customer service and inconsiderate employees. One Yelp commenter said of the shop, “There are many items I would buy there, but won’t support the business because of their service problems + high prices.”
Another commenter said of the owner that he “has maybe on one occasion in 15 years been helpful, and on every other occasion been a condescending jerk…He mostly knows his stuff, but not always. He told me all the candy melts were chocolate flavored…and when I tried to argue…he got all “I know what I’m talking about, etc…” Sure enough, when I tried them out, they weren’t chocolate flavored.”
Even so, many bakers have no choice but to visit NY Cake & Baking because there isn’t another shop like it in the center of the city.
However, a friendly, inexpensive and reasonably well stocked alternative is just a train ride across the river! Cakeworks on Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights is, as one reviewer put it, “Brooklyn’s best kept secret!”
Cakeworks is a much smaller bakers’ supply than its Manhattan counterpart, but what it lacks in size it makes up for with warmth and helpful service. The store’s owner, Lynnette Clark, is knowledgeable, kind and patient, always happy to help her patrons leave with exactly what they’re looking for.
With so many more home-grown bakeries popping up in Brooklyn recently (the Greenpoint Food Market boasted a handful!), Cakeworks is a fantastic resource for hobbyist bakers, small business owners or event planners in the area.
Best of all, Cakeworks’ down to earth and approachable appeal represent all that Brooklyn is about: community.