If you are looking for a special occasion cake in the Netherlands with more pizazz than traditional Dutch Apple, your options are severely limited. My daughter and I celebrated our birthdays together last year with a Louis Vuitton purple handbag cake from a specialty wedding cake shop in The Hague. The shape and design of the cake fooled most people, they believed it really was a Louis Vuitton bag. Too bad the cake did not taste as good as it looked. Never the less, that shop is where I began my cake search as my 40th Birthday Bash loomed large.
Laptop in hand, to show a few cake photos spotted on Flickr, I walked in to the shop with a friend to order the cake. The shop owner quoted an exorbitant price, but I didn’t flinch, I even assured her that a simpler version of the trendy topsy turvy tiered cakes pictured would do, but she shook her head back and forth a lot in the dreaded horizontal direction (universal sign for not gonna happen). She said she wasn’t sure the date would work for her, she’d let me know, etc. Totally not interested in the business even though she quoted more than a few hundred euros. Already frustrated with the low service level (but not low price) from a different service provider benefactor of the party, I wasn’t looking for any more hassles.
We walked out of the shop vowing to attempt the multi-tiered cake ourselves! Luckily, a friend intervened and recommended Bagel Alley. She said the cafe owners seem to be the the type to try something new even though they don’t usually decorate cakes. Their cakes are delicious, so I immediately called with no particular expectations. My inquiry, “Do you make decorated tiered cakes?”, was met with a magical two word response, “Not yet.”
These two words and the accompanying upbeat tone spoke volumes. They were willing to give it a go! If someone other than one of the two owners would have answered the phone, maybe the outcome would be different, you never know? (Who answers the phone for your business?) My visit to Bagel Alley the next morning to discuss possibilities as well as the follow up emails and phone calls were all handled by Bagel Alley owners Sonja and Marrie, in the spirit of “Let’s see what we can do to make something nice for you.”
Living in a country without a service culture makes you truly appreciate great service when you do experience it. To my surprise, Marrie co-owner and cake creator came forward to greet me when we walked in to pick up the cakes. We had not met, but she recognized me from the photo on the party invitation. Marrie eagerly watched my reaction and when I was obviously thrilled with the cake, a mix of joy, relief and pride came over her. Her confession of a sleepless night due to my cake revealed true passion for her masterpiece, her business, and especially her customers.
Why all the fuss about cake? When you want to create something special it is great to do business with people that get it! Days later, my party guests are still raving about the delicious Love Boat themed Oreo Cake. You had to be there to get the “Love Boat” theme, but I’d happily meet you at Bagel Alley in Wassenaar for a slice of carrot cake and a cappuccino and you’ll instantly understand what the cake kudos are all about!