‘Let them eat cake’ – Elizabeth’s Cake Shop – Belmont Road
When Marie Antoinette allegedly said those famous last words, little did she know that for the people of East Belfast, life was a piece of cake – with a lovely little home bakery in the midst of a busy, thriving route of independent retailers.
Elizabeth’s Cake Shop on Belfast’s Belmont Road is just one of the many independent retailers on the Belmont Road – an important artery into the city centre.
Owner Stephen Brown talked to NR about his business – the early starts and long hours of the home bakery owner.
“Elizabeth’s has been on its present site for the last 9 years” said Stephen. “I’ve been the owner for all that time – but as a name, it has been established for the last 50 years.
“The former site was at Ballyhackamore – where I worked for 20 years. When the previous owner was retiring I bought it over from him – so for the last 11 of in Ballyhackamore I was the owner.
“I sold it after 11 years and then took a sabbatical for 3 yrs. from baking to explore different opportunities.”
Refreshed after the break, Stephen decided it was the right time to go bake in to the bakery business.
What’s in a name?
“The new owners in Ballyhackamore had changed the name – so it was Elizabeth’s Cake Shop no more. There was a bakery on this present site on the Belmont Road and the owner was selling up, so I bought it and changed the name to Elizabeth’s Cake shop as name was available again” explained Stephen.
“I have been a baker for nearly 40 years, working in a few different bakeries to gain experience along the way. Elizabeth’s is on a great site – Belmont road has a wide variety of shops and cafes, three local schools with passing trade and a great loyal customer base.
“During the recent lockdowns of 2020-2021 we were extremely busy as people preferred to shop local as opposed to long queues at supermarkets (bread lines were particularly busy). Thankfully, we have been able to hold on to some of those new customers. Parking is the biggest issue we face.”
“Sausage rolls are a big favourite at Elizabeth’s especially at tea-break time with many businesses putting in orders for special occasions. However, I don’t do any cakes or occasion cakes.
“Sweet and savoury would be 50/50,” Stephen told NR. “Fresh cream pastries are popular but also good old Ulster standards such as soda farls, potato farls and pancakes always sell well.”
“Elizabeth’s cake shop is special because of the quality of all the products and the service we provide
especially to the older customer who we might be there only point of contact in that day.
A job well done
“I do all the baking on site beginning at 4 o’clock in the morning. All the houses nearby rise to the smell of freshly baked bread (very hard to resist)!
“To pack the shelves in the morning and stand back and look at what you have produced is where I get my job satisfaction to then sell it all is a bonus.”