Metro Weekly

The Cakeroom’s Fadi Jaber: Being a gay-owned bakery “has helped my business”

Jaber's "American Dream" comes baked to perfection and covered in frosting

The Cake Room

“I think being known as a gay-owned bakery actually has helped my business, because a lot of my baristas will tell me about people who have come in and say they’re supporting our business because we are LGBT-owned,” says Fadi Jaber, owner of The Cakeroom bakery in Adams Morgan. “It’s very refreshing to me, especially compared to Jordan, where people would boycott my shop because I was gay.”

That bakery is Sugar Daddy’s, and it has locations in Amman, Jordan, and Beirut. After finding success with Sugar Daddy’s — complete with a glowing profile in the New York Times — Jaber moved to the more gay-friendly United States. After settling in Washington, D.C., he opened Sugar Daddy’s on 18th Street in 2013.

His first year, however, was far from the American Dream. Arriving at the onset of the novelty cupcake boom, he faced stiff competition, and was even hit with a lawsuit from Sugar Daddy’s bakery in Columbus, Ohio, forcing him to rename his shop The Cakeroom. He eventually turned things around. “The trick was to stay alive as long as you can,” Jaber says. “Word-of-mouth just takes a really long time to pick up, and it took about 15 months for us to get our name out there.”

Specializing in “desserts to go,” The Cakeroom offers everything from custom-made cakes to cupcakes to cheesecakes to brownies. Some of the most popular items include red velvet cupcakes, and a carrot cake with cream-cheese icing that has apparently won over many skeptics.

Jaber’s personal favorite? Nutella cookies. “It’s my weakness,” he laughs. “I go through phases where I have to have one every day.”

The Masterpiece Cakeshop case sparked debate over a baker’s right to refuse to make cakes for gay weddings, but Jaber sees his business as the “antithesis” of such exclusion. Take, for example, when he learned he was getting a green card.

“I was very stressed out about it, because it was during the Trump election, and I knew where he stood on immigration,” he says. “I got the text while I was doing a cake-tasting with a lesbian couple. They were the first people I hugged when I was screaming up and down for joy, because I got approved for this green card.

“That will forever be in my memory, that positive energy, doing this tasting for this lesbian couple. And that’s what our bakery is all about.”

The Cakeroom, 2006 18th St. NW, is open daily. For hours or to place an order, call 202-450-4462 or visit cakeroombakery.com.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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