“People wanted portability, and people wanted cream cheese frosting.”
For those reasons, Warren Brown decided to give the people what they wanted by selling CakeLove in a Jar.
In 2002, Brown, an attorney by trade, opened CakeLove. It began as brick-and-mortar stores—seven scattered across the DMV—serving gourmet cupcakes, layer cakes and other treats. As trends shifted and the once-novel cupcake became ubiquitous, Brown’s priorities changed, too.
With two young daughters, Brown began to feel the pressure of having so many storefronts. “It can be crazy difficult to operate multiple locations,” says Brown, who also hosted Food Network’s Sugar Rush. “It sucked me away.”
At the end of 2015, Brown closed the first, and final, CakeLove on U Street in D.C. to shift the focus of his business to CakeLove in a Jar, a variation of the layered cakes that helped make CakeLove famous. The jarred confections come in classic flavors like red velvet, salty caramel and bananas Foster, plus gluten-free options.
The prepared cakes use real cream and butter in the frosting, which is why they are found in the refrigerated section of Whole Foods, Walgreens and, soon, Walmart. Alexandria-based CakeLove recently won a contract with the massive superstore chain through an open call for new products, and the sweet treat will also be available at Costco later this year.
With his products taking up residence in so many big-name grocers, Brown doesn’t have any intention of opening up another storefront. But he does continue to experiment with new products, like a multigrain baked snack called Spark Bites, which even Brown says is the opposite of the CakeLove in a Jar since the snack is low in sugar, high in fiber and is a shelf-stable product. He is also tinkering with a barbecue sauce akin to Chinese duck sauce. Brown says he would have to create another brand to sell his sauce.
For Brown, it isn’t about just having one product on the shelves; it is about the process leading up to it. “I like to play around with a lot of stuff,” says Brown. “I just love creating new things.”