As a wise tweet once said, “Once you realize that you don’t need a special occasion to buy a cake, the second part of your life begins.”
When I was younger, my parents found endless excuses to bring home a chocolate layer cake from Gregg’s — a humble Rhode Island chain so renowned for its desserts, even former President Barack Obama paid a visit while in office. If you don’t trust Obama’s seal of approval, take mine.
I moved from Rhode Island when I was six, so Gregg’s featured heavily in my childhood memories. Their chocolate cakes are unbelievably rich and moist, made elegant with a coating of chocolate shavings and a cherry on top. To this day, whenever my family and I visit our friends in Massachusetts, we make a two hour detour to get our hands on some Gregg’s. Naturally, my criteria for cake is simple: how close is its quality to Gregg’s?
Well, my friends, Sweet Corner Bakeshop in the West Village is a “g” away from Gregg’s. Its cakes came in four melt-in-your-mouth layers, just like Gregg’s. They were decadent without trying too hard — no lava, no truffles, no nonsense. Hefty slices, too, not cutesy cups or pop forms.
I first stumbled upon Sweet Corner Bakeshop as a first-year on a warm, spring day. It was the kind of day that makes wandering the West Village dreamlike and a sugary splurge inevitable. My friend and I walked around, when we were drawn to the bakery’s large windows and welcoming sign.
The shop was colorful and homely. We sat at the counter by the window to split a slice of the gorgeous lemon blueberry cake, those four layers of golden cake decorated with purple berry frosting. It was sweet and tangy, perfectly paired with the summer weather. I vowed to return for a chocolate slice, the ultimate test of its greatness.
I got my chance the following semester, this time in the dead of winter. My friends and I were killing time around campus before an improv show, and I craved cake. I dragged them 15 minutes west with me to Sweet Corner Bakeshop, where we picked up desserts. We parked ourselves in the Tisch lobby to snack. When I took the first bite of that chocolate slice, I breathed a sigh of relief. This was it: a home away from home. Nostalgia and familial warmth were just a quick walk from campus. I could tap into my favorite childhood memories whenever I was in the neighborhood.
I moved into Greenwich Hall last semester, in love with the West Village and thrilled to live down the street from Sweet Corner Bakeshop. Although I had only been there twice, I planned a third visit to celebrate my 21st birthday in September during the pandemic. Sure, I couldn’t go to a bar or throw a party, but I knew the one thing I could count on was an outstanding birthday cake. I would have all the comfort I needed in the slice I’d buy for myself.
Alas, I took it for granted. When I checked Sweet Corner Bakeshop’s hours, Google Maps spelled tragedy in red letters: “permanently closed.” I promptly entered a stage of denial. I pulled up their Instagram account to verify the news, only to see their last post announcing their closure in July, presumably due to the impact of the pandemic on small businesses across New York City.
Today, I continue my quest for the best cake in New York City with a renewed sense of purpose. Sweet Corner Bakeshop taught me that success in my mission is hard-earned and fleeting. Until Gregg’s decides to ship its products to New York City, I take it upon myself to carry on.
Email Sabrina Choudhary at [email protected]