It’s not even Black Friday quite yet, but lines were expected to be long — hours long.
One might suspect there’s some holiday deal they can’t miss, or maybe even a celebrity book-signing. Instead, it’s simply Thanksgiving at Lloyd’s Carrot Cake.
The homey bakery has served the greater Riverdale community and beyond for more than 30 years, and was all prepped to feed loyal customers for the annual feast who were seduced by the pleasant aroma wafting down Broadway.
The bakery — which now has a juice bar — was founded by Betty Campbell-Adams and her late husband Lloyd Adams in 1985, cramped into a small storefront across from Van Cortlandt Park. The bakery has undergone a small expansion in recent years, including a new dedicated space strictly for customers. Although it’s not much bigger than the original shop, the space reduces the long lines that form each year ahead of Thanksgiving.
Originally Betty and Lloyd began as a wholesale business. The pleasant smells of the cakes being pulled from the oven, however, attracted passersby and the bakery has since grown slice-by-slice. High demand also has caught the eye of the New York Police Department’s 50th Precinct, who stepped up to provide some security to help ensure all goes well.
“The bakery is very important to the neighborhood,” said Chris Jordan, a longtime customer who was successful in securing a carrot cake for his family’s Thanksgiving table. “The business has stuck around for a long time. That’s something you don’t see as often anymore.”
Lines can wind down the block with wait times expected to last two or three hours on Thursday. But that only inspires Betty and her small staff to overcome culinary hurdles year after year. That includes a menu expanded beyond just carrot cakes with red velvet, German chocolate and even pineapple coconut cakes. There are also sweet potato, pumpkin and apple pies.
With the recent expansion and the addition of a juice bar, more ovens have been installed to help the neighborhood bakery meet the high demands it faces.
“Every year it seems we get more and more orders,” Campbell-Adams said. “When we first started, people would walk by and ask for a slice. Over time, people kept coming back because it smells good and reminded them of home. I feel as if I have become one with the community.”
Keeping the integrity of the ingredients is the secret to Campbell-Adams’ success with her recipe undergoing little change over the years. The ingredients are top quality, she said, with bakers actually drying their own grapes into raisins instead of acquiring them pre-made.
There is, however, one small change that might not be so easy to spot: Lloyd’s carrot cakes have less sugar.
“To the customer it’s not discernable,” Campbell-Adams said. “But I know, and I want to be consistent. I am health-conscious, and a little goes a long way.”
Baking is not all Lloyd’s has been up to. The bakery also is giving back to the victims of the recent hurricanes that struck and devastated the Caribbean basin earlier this year with a goods and supply drive.
That drive hits home a bit for the store since Lloyd Adams originally received his carrot cake recipe from his grandmother who lived on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“It was important for me to give back to the victims that were hurt and their homes damaged back in the Caribbean,” Campbell-Adams said. “The carrot cake stems from the tradition back on the islands and it’s right we do something for them in this time of need.”