This morning Mike Bloomberg embarked on a whistlestop tour of small business in the five boroughs. So far, he’s stopped at two bakeries: Holterman’s in Staten Island and Cake Man Raven in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. We caught up with him at Cake Man Raven, where the Mayor spread icing on a six-layer Southern red velvet cake and was gifted with his first baker’s jacket (bright red).
After spreading the icing, Harlem Cake Man-cum-Broooklyn Cake Man Raven Patrick De’Sean Dennis asked Mayor Mike if he wanted to eat some cake.
“I’m only doing this to be neighborly,” said Bloomberg, as he took a bite of the richest cake on this side of the East River, adding that he was sacrificing his body for the cause. Then he had another bite.
“How many cakes do you make every day?,” asked the data-driven mayor of the Cake Man.
The answer is a lot. When Dennis relocated his famous Harlem bakery to Brooklyn in 2000 (he could afford Harlem rents, and he couldn’t get a loan), he started out with four employees — today he has thirty…
Dennis said he didn’t know anything about Brooklyn at the time — nor did he realize he would be relocating to an area gentrifying at a pace almost equal to Harlem’s. He secured space in an empty storefront, and was able to charge six dollars for a slice of his signature red velvet cake — a Manhattan price that reflects the upscaled Fort Greene. (Just look down the block, where the lay-out and prices in a hardware store that opened recently have the feel of a boutique).
Bloomberg said Cake Man Raven is a model small business in the city. “The answer for small businesses is to find something unique,” Bloomberg said, “whether it’s making a high quality product or something that only you can make.”
Dennis said the Bloomberg administration hadn’t provided him with financial help, such as assistance in securing a loan. But he said the administration had given him publicity, as in 2003, when the city asked him to create a seven-foot replica of the Brooklyn Bridge for its 120th anniversary.
That publicity brought him other opportunities, he said, such as the chance to make a giant cake for the Timberland company which was shipped to the island of Aruba. “And that was only the red velvet!,” said the Cake Man.