Celebration to mark cake shop closure as owner leaves to retrain as nurse
PUBLISHED: 08:45 03 June 2016
The owner of a popular tea room in West Hampstead hosted a farewell party to thank the community for a decade of support as she closed her business to retrain as a nurse.
Zoe Berkeley was just 24 when she started Bake-a-Boo in Mill Lane, and said she could never have anticipated its success.
She said: “The cake shop culture has really taken off in the past decade, but in the beginning, we were one of only a few places providing gluten, dairy and wheat-free options, so we built a really loyal customer base that way.”
Ms Berkeley, who worked full-time at the shop throughout the ten years, said she began offering the free-from options because she suffers from food intolerances and associated health conditions.
She said: “I’ve spent a lot of time in hospital with stomach problems, and that what prompted my original vision for the bakery as somewhere that catered for everyone. And now it has prompted me to retrain to be a nurse.
“I’m 34 now, so I feel it’s a case of ‘now or never’ for going back to university and doing the nursing.”
Ms Berkeley said highlights of her 10 years at Bake-a-Boo have included publishing a cook book and baking a cake for actor Dwayne Johnson, known as The Rock.
She said: “I was always a huge fan of The Rock, so that was really exciting for me, and I would never have guessed that I would publish my own book. It’s been incredible.
“We also had someone propose to his girlfriend in the shop a few years ago, which was definitely memorable.”
She added that the shop had taken off in ways she could never have imagined, such as becoming a popular venue for hen parties at the weekends.
She said: “You probably wouldn’t associate hen parties with tea rooms – but we had a licence to serve alcohol for the last 18 months, which helped.”
Swing jive band The Rockabellas helped create the party atmosphere as Ms Berkeley and her staff released balloons and gave out food to their customers.
She said: “It’s nice to go out on a high, on my own terms and while the business is thriving.
“The lease was up for renewal and I don’t know if the rent would have been increased or not, but it felt like the right time to go and to take on a fresh challenge.”