Sweet Lady Jane closes all Los Angeles locations

For the past three decades, it seemed there was only one cake worth having at your graduation, birthday, bridal shower or wedding. The cake sitting on top of the pedestal in the middle of the celebration table, the one being shoved into newlyweds’ faces and ushered out in neat slices to waiting partygoers, was the triple berry cake from Sweet Lady Jane.

The bakery, which had six locations in Los Angeles — West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Encino, Calabasas and San Fernando — closed all of its bakeries on Sunday.

The company announced the closures in a statement posted to social media.

“After 35 years we are closing our doors,” read the statement. “Our last day of business was December 31, 2023.”

The shop celebrated its 35th anniversary in June, recently remodeled multiple stores and had plans to open new shops in Larchmont and Marina del Rey.

“We did not come to this decision lightly nor quickly,” read the statement. “While the support and loyalty of our customers has been strong, sales are not enough to continue doing business in the state of California, allowing us to service our lease obligations and pay our treasured employees a living wage without passing those costs directly on to you.”

A representative for Sweet Lady Jane did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.

“This business is brutal,” Erin McKenna’s Bakery commented on the Instagram post about the sudden closure. The vegan and gluten-free bakery has a location on Larchmont Boulevard in Windsor Square as well as bakeries in Florida and New York City. “I am so, so sorry. I know this wasn’t easy.“

The news comes at a time fraught with uncertainty for the Los Angeles restaurant industry, with dozens of notable closures announced in 2023.

Founder Jane Lockhart opened the first Sweet Lady Jane bakery on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood in 1988. The triple berry cake wasn’t on Lockhart’s opening menu, but it was a hit from the moment she introduced it a few months later. The cake accounted for more than half of the bakery’s sales.

It was a simple take on a strawberry shortcake, with rich yellow butter cake layered with whipped cream and fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. The whipped cream was improbably light and just a tad sweet. Each fruit had its own devoted layer so that when you sliced into the cake, you could easily pick out your favorite.

It was instantly recognizable at parties. The tall, pristine white cake was neatly piped with green buttercream leaves along the sides and decorated with fresh fruit on top.

I’ve probably eaten at least a hundred slices over the years. Growing up in Los Angeles, I watched as the cake became a status symbol of sorts. In addition to the right handbag, car and social circle, this was the cake you needed at your party. At the time of closing, a 9-inch cake was $100.

People made sure the cake was included in photographs from any party. They nodded approvingly when it was brought to the table.

Fans of the bakery, and the triple berry cake in particular, flooded the comments on the Instagram post announcing the closure.

“The berry cake is a part of my childhood and my memories forever,” wrote Lauren Ireland. “My own wedding, friend’s weddings, celebratory days and when you just wanted to make someone’s day happier.”

“This is truly an end of an era,” wrote Scotty Cunha.

“Oh no, this is so sad. Thank you for all the memories. The triple berry cake will live on in legend…,” wrote food writer Esther Tseng.

Many copycats have sprung up over the years, including the berry chantilly cake from Whole Foods, which features a vanilla cake with chantilly icing and berries. But there’s only one triple berry.

What will be the next “it” cake for Los Angeles? I suggest the chocolate with salted caramel from République, the Blum’s Coffee Crunch cake from Valerie Confections or any of Hannah Ziskin’s cakes at Quarter Sheets.

Times staff writer Sarah Mosqueda contributed to this report.

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