The new bakery on the block: The Sweet ShopBy Alyssa Judd
Published: January 18, 2013
The aroma of freshly baked pound cakes filled a small quaint cafe in Downtown Greensboro. The door chimed as customers entered into The Sweet Shop’s 1950’s themed room and the voice of Etta James buzzed through the air.
The Sweet Shop, Homemade Pound Cakes by Margaret Elaine is a fairly new establishment in the area. The family-owned business, located at 631 South Elm Street, Suite A, will celebrate its second anniversary next month on February 14.
Unlike some bakery owners, Margaret Elaine Gladney (better known as Elaine), did not attend pastry or culinary school.
Her mother, Mary Shoffner Gladney, trained the Greensboro native. When Elaine was younger, her mother baked pound cakes for their church, New Goshen United Methodist, and for their family. The Sweet Shop owner would observe her mother’s cooking skills and take note to the small details. Elaine
quickly learned to avoid shaking the cake or the middle of the baked good would sink into the pan.
When Elaine was close to 16-years-old her interest in baking began to outweigh cooking. “My favorite (to bake) was the lemon pound cake. There were cookies and other things too, but I was more interested in cakes,” she shared. “That’s where it all started.”
Elaine did not realize her passion for cakes would bring her to where she is presently but she has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. She attributes those characteristics to her father, Thomas Gladney Jr., who owned his own brick cleaning business. Five years ago, she sold food plates in
addition to working a full-time job. Each meal presented customers with a slice of cake as their dessert. Over time, inquiries about the sweet dish grew and she realized there was a high demand for homemade pound cakes.
“People started wanting more than just a slice, they wanted a whole cake,” joked Elaine. “It just popped in my head like, ‘Wow, maybe I need to open up a bakery and see how pound cakes will sell on a small scale.’”
Although The Sweet Shop may be considered the new kid on the block, Elaine has created a repertoire of 200 cake recipes and there are many more to come. Pecan, coffee, coconut pineapple, key lime, cream pie and raspberry pound cake are just a few of the choices. Thus far, the bakery has showcased close to 80 of its signature recipes. The Sweet Shop’s top two sellers are banana pudding and lemon-glazed pound cake. She said the banana pudding pound cake was the first runner up and “with that particular cake we have four different presentations. I’ve only shown one.”
Elaine likes to spoil her customers. The menu items change weekly and a social media alert is released daily to inform patrons of when the pound cakes are fresh out of the oven. Not only does she present them with warm slices of cake and an environment filled with the lingering scent of baked goods but a stage for talented musicians, singers or poets to showcase their work. The Sweet Shop also provides an area for customers with children. A section of the café is designed to entertain kids with age appropriate movies and television shows.
“We make it inviting for adults and kids. It’s not your average sweet shop. It’s for everyone,” she stated. “It’s a positive atmosphere where you receive great hospitality. You can come in peace and leave in peace.”
Elaine envisions many accomplishments in The Sweet Shop’s future. She plans for the bakery to make the Guinness Book of World Records for the most pound cake recipes. The Greensboro native also hopes to expand the family-owned business to an additional location next year. The owner shared an instance where one client tried a sample of her lemon pound cake and began to cry.
“She said, ‘I never tasted a cake like this in 12 years. You make it just like my grandmother.’ Her grandmother had passed 12 years ago,” explained Elaine. “To hear and see overwhelming remarks of appreciation from our customers like that makes it all worth it.
“I can’t really explain some of the vibes and appreciation I get from people who come to our shop. It just makes me want to keep going, keep creating and to continuously take our work to a level no one has ever done before.”
For more information about The Sweet Shop and their other desserts visit www.sweetshopnow.com or call (336)790-0242.