LA GRANDE — While getting through the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been a piece of cake, Le Bebe Cakes in La Grande is weathering the storm thanks to loyal customers and staff.

The downtown bakery celebrated its fifth anniversary this past month. Throughout the pandemic and during its years of operation, owner Spring Roberts has emphasized the importance of connecting with the local community and creating a local hub.

“The community has always been the biggest support for us,” she said.

Roberts has been making and decorating cakes for roughly 25 years, and in 2016 she and her daughter opened Le Bebe Cakes Bakery at the Market Place Washington Avenue. The popular cafe sells cakes, cupcakes, pastries, coffee and everything in between.

The pandemic has presented a variety of challenges to Le Bebe Cakes, just like it has for many businesses across the country. When indoor dining was closed off in 2020, Roberts noted that she was unsure of the future. However, she received call after call asking for custom cakes and pastries from loyal customers.

Roberts credits customer allegiance as the biggest reason the bakery stayed alive during the pandemic without in-house sales. The bakery was able to deliver and hand out cakes to limit the losses.

An emphasis at Le Bebe Cakes has always been to create a family environment for employees, and during the pandemic Roberts has gone out of her way to retain her employees. The owner noted that she has not made any personal gains since 2019 in order to increase employee wages and keep her staff at full force. Above monetary needs, she emphasized that creating an enjoyable work atmosphere is a key element in operating a successful business.

“People have a choice of where they work,” Roberts said. “It helps when you can feel like part of a family at work.”

The bakery also partnered with the community to take donations for kids in need of meals during the peak of the COVID-19 shutdown. The donations went toward local restaurants, and Le Bebe Cakes helped deliver the food, benefiting both local families and restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

The business traditionally hosts a number of classes, parties and annual events aimed at children and adults at the bakery and its adjacent Grande Lumiere Event Center. While COVID-19 has made that difficult, Roberts is finding ways to continue providing an enjoyable space for the community, including a pumpkin decorating contest and Halloween-themed tea parties this past week.

Roberts noted that watching kids grow over the years alongside her custom cake business has been rewarding.

“I’ve watched the kids grow up, from making them birthday cakes when they were young to making them their wedding cakes,” she said.

Roberts stated that she hopes the bakery can shift back to more children’s classes and events as the pandemic eases. She noted that a recent uptick in celebratory cake orders gives her optimism for good things to come for the business.

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