Justin Fox Burks
Local billboards may advertise “Broadway’s Legendary Pizza,” but the restaurant’s scrumptious layer cakes and the charming couple who bake them are shaping a far different culinary legacy.
Together, 26-year-old Adrian Ishee and his girlfriend Mary Hughes turn out 40 to 50 cakes a week for the Broad Avenue store, in business since 1977. During holidays, their baking can double for the dozen or so flavors ranging from strawberry (the most popular) to lemon (Ishee’s favorite) to eggnog, an impromptu invention by Hughes that she likes the best.
Ishee started baking cakes as a youngster with his grandmother, the late Lana Cox, as a way to raise money for the grandchildren’s sports. “We sold them for a dollar a slice,” he says. Hughes got pulled into the kitchen more recently by circumstance. She liked to cook, but baking, not so much. “I didn’t have any training,” she recalls. “It was just, ‘There’s no baker now, so get back there and bake a cake.’ I couldn’t say no, because I have to live with him.”
These days, both Hughes and Ishee are inveterate experimenters who toss around cake stories (the oversized Pokemon cake, the turtle cake that burned) with such easy rapport that I can’t help but ask, “So is cake the secret to a good relationship?”
“Oh no, it’s pigs,” Hughes responds, pulling out her cell to show off seven new piglets born to a “very spoiled” mama pig named Maple Bacon Donut. “We made a Maple Bacon Donut cake after her, but it didn’t sell so well. We are always trying something new.”
For instance, in February, the bakers offered heart-shaped cakes at Broadway with a riot of red and pink buttercream roses and voluptuous 9-inch layer cakes, tall, moist, and fluffy thanks to expertise, a little Crisco, and a lot of love.
“We started off with a simple box cake wiping some icing on it with a butter knife,” Ishee says. “Now we are doing fondant and all sorts of fancy stuff I didn’t even know was possible. My grandmother would be so happy if she was still around.”
2581 Broad Ave. (901-454-7930)