Family is at the heart of Brooklyn-based Clarkson Ave Crumb Cakes. Run by mother & son duo Susan and James Welsh, the company is built on the memory, taste and nostalgia Susan experienced in the 1950s and 60s as a kid growing up on Clarkson Avenue, when it was easy to find a good crumb cake at a local bakery.
But times have changed. And Susan, feeling like that old flavor was lacking – yet knowing there had to be others like her that craved that same taste – starting making the crumbly cakes out of her Brooklyn home. Before she knew it, word and social media spread and she soon had interest and, eventually, orders.
Let it be said, there was also a lot of nudging from James, who started in the food service business at the ripe old age of 14 at a local bagel shop. As he progressed in his career, he never stopped thinking about how to turn his mother’s famous cakes into a company.
James, a baker in his own right, likes to joke that it only took 20 years to get the business off the ground.
That was six years ago and Clarkson Ave Crumb Cakes is now sold nationwide online. It’s a business model that has worked well during the pandemic. The company’s handcrafted, small batch cakes, made from all-natural ingredients using an old family recipe, come in a variety of flavors, including: salted caramel, raspberry, big apple and Brooklyn Blackout (think lots of chocolate), as well as the classic crumb. They also offer monthly specials such as Cookies and Cream and chocolate stout cake topped with Irish cream crumbs.
Customers have the option of a regular-sized cake or the company’s crumb cake muffins, which they call “crumbkins.”
James said creating new flavors is one of his and his mom’s favorite parts of the business. Working together is another. Though the two may argue from time to time, as families often do, James said they always end the day with an “I love you.”
“In short, it’s a great dynamic,” he said.
What also makes it rewarding is the feedback from satisfied customers. “Hearing that a total stranger had one of our cakes and loves it is just so gratifying,” said James. “It never gets old.”
The two are also all about building their business “the right way” (James’ words), by making sure they have a positive impact on society no matter how small it may be at the moment. This includes, but is not limited to, using environmentally friendly materials when possible, contributing to causes that promote social justice and equality, paying employees fair wages and creating a work environment that is safe and inclusive.
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