A home cake-baking business operated by Moraima Gonzalez became so popular it outgrew her home, enabling her to open her own cafe.
Located at Fifth and Cumberland streets in Lebanon, Cakes By Moraima and Café, occupies the corner spot that had served as another eatery for a number of years.
The cafe is a family business, with duties shared with Moraima’s husband, Carlos Quintana, and daughter, Carla Quintana, 16.
“She does all the treats, like her chocolate-covered pretzels,” Moraima said of her daughter.
When the family found the empty corner shop, it seemed perfect for their plans. It was the right course of action, Gonzalez said.
“We have lots of customers, we’re busy all day,” Gonzalez said. “We have a casual, welcoming atmosphere.”
Lebanon’s mayor, Sherry Capello, is very happy with this new addition to the city. The café, at 443 Cumberland Street, is within the Downtown Main Street boundary and the city’s central business district.
“This property has been sitting vacant since All That and a Bag of Chips closed in 2019.
“Cakes by Moraima and Cafe” offers something a little different than most cafes in the downtown, as it has a wide variety of pastries and desserts, in addition to dine-in menu options,” Capello said. “You can also custom order desserts. We wish them success in their endeavors.”
In addition to custom-made cakes, the family has another claim to fame; Carlos Quintana is a former professional boxer, having won the Puerto Rican championship in 2008, his wife said.
The cafe is the second business owned by the couple, who owned a work-out gym in Puerto Rico for four years.
After moving to Lebanon a few years ago, Moraima baked and decorated her custom-made cakes on weekends, while holding down her day job. Her unique cakes became such a high-demand item that an expansion was needed.
“I got a lot of clients, so we decided to offer a small coffee shop and cafe so we can do our cakes here,” she said.
The cafe is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 to 5 on Fridays and Saturdays.
Breakfast and brunch is served all day, and the menu includes omelets, bagels, sandwiches, quesadillas, and tea, hot chocolate, and coffee, including iced and frozen coffees, and desserts.
Cafe specialties include a soft bread pudding, ‘tres leches,’ or ‘three milks,’ and a pastry called ‘quesitos,’ a pastry puff filled with cream cheese and glazed on the outside.
“That’s very popular,” Gonzalez said of the pastry puff.
The menu is reasonable enough so that Moraima has time to make her custom cakes at the coffee shop.
She supplies cakes in any flavor for special occasions, such as weddings and birthdays, and also has cake by the slice for cafe customers.
The cafe is a treat for the senses with the fragrance of brewing coffee, the sight and taste of colorful, creamy sweet treats and Christian music in the background.
“We play music all the time,” Gonzalez said. “And lots of people are telling me they find it very relaxing here.”
The cafe opened July 2, and Gonzalez is already looking ahead, with plans to hire more employees and to expand the menu to include breakfast staples such as pancakes and waffles.
If all goes well, she might consider opening a second cafe.
“We’ll see how it goes the first month,” she said.