When the Market closed after 42 years in business at 1445 Larimer Street, Denver lost a neighborhood gathering spot as well as an eclectic cafe for espresso drinks, sandwiches, pastries and other deli fare. But what many customers remember and miss most is the Market's Spring Fling cake, a longstanding tradition that was part of Larimer Square nearly as long as the cafe itself.
Now three former bakers from the Market have started their own business selling delicious and decorative cakes — including the Spring Fling.
Audrey Daniels, Laura Madrid and Vivian Villagrana met while working at the Market over the past five years; all three learned how to bake cakes and other desserts on the job. "Vivian is the one who had been there the longest," says Daniels, who left for a position as a pastry chef at Guard and Grace before the Market closed officially on April 14. Madrid says she was a regular customer long before she started working at the cafe, and that she and Villagrana were both surprised and saddened when the place closed, even though owner Mark Greenberg had been talking for some time about retiring.
"After that, Laura and Vivian and I wanted to do our own thing," Daniels notes, "but we didn't have the Spring Fling in mind at the time."
So the three formed Lala's Bakery and began selling cakes and cupcakes online. "We have a lot of ideas for new flavor combinations," Villagrana says, but adds that they're keeping the menu short so that they can focus on quality.
Madrid says the name of the new bakery came from her childhood nickname. "My family calls me Lala because I'm kind of a daydreamer — and it's also an ode to our friend Lauren, who also worked at the Market," she explains.
Lala's is a cottage bakery for now, with an Instagram page where you can view the beautiful creations and check prices, and an email address — email@example.com — where you can place your order. The bakers take payment via Venmo and arrange pick-up locations for the finished products.
Lala's is starting out small to begin with, but Daniels, Madrid and Villagrana have bigger plans. "We all envision a storefront at some point," Villagrana explains, "but we're going to have to adjust to the times by offering delivery, online ordering and payment — making people feel safe and comfortable."
Oh, and if you've never had the Spring Fling cake, you must be new to Denver. It's an airy, two-layer zucchini cake slathered in cream-cheese frosting and topped with glazed fruits, typically mango, strawberry, blackberry and kiwi. You can get yours in cupcake form or as a nine-inch round cake from Lala's.