By JACQUELINE FERNANDEZ
BOYLE HEIGHTS — For decades residents here have headed to the St. Louis Pharmacy for their meds. Soon, they will be coming to the same corner building for fresh baked-goods and pastries.
Baker Amy Tam and her fiancée and co-owner Andres Fuentes have now been working for two years to open Cake Girl inside the long-time neighborhood pharmacy. Fuentes – a 30-year-old who is a Boyle Heights native – would pass by the pharmacy on E. 1st and St. Louis Street nearly every day as he rode the Gold Line. He thought the retro space would be ideal for Cake Girl.
So did Tam, 29, who grew up in El Sereno.
“We want to serve as a meeting place for those in the community, to share a pastry & coffee, and to share the news of the day,” said Tam.
The idea is for them to share the space with the pharmacy, which will stay in business while Cake Girl rents out the counter area.
But after starting a fundraiser in 2016, Cake Girl, which has been offering vegan and gluten-free goods at popups and special events, ran into some challenges.
The couple had to overcome an expensive series of hurdles as they sought the necessary city and health department approvals. At the same time, they started on construction to bring the space up to code. Their funds were quickly depleted by the fall of 2016.
“We are not doing any major renovations, just bringing the original space up to code and keeping the entire original counter, stools and vintage pastry case, she said. “The city of Los Angeles has made the journey difficult and for other small businesses,” added Tam.
Tam and Fuentes were forced to go back to work to raise money to pay for city fees and complete construction. At the end of 2017, Tam left her day job to focus on her business. The couple started an online fundraiser to get the last chunk of money needed to finish the storefront.
The donations from the fundraiser have helped with speeding up construction, which you can follow on their Facebook page. Cake Girl hopes to open its doors by this spring.
Tam turned to her her father — a cook in a Chinatown Chinese BBQ — for inspiration when things got tough.
“My father’s influence has inspired me to take chances, to work hard, and to follow my passion in pastry and baking.”
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