Cakes, Classes and More at Louise’s
A longstanding Birmingham shop is the go-to spot for sweet treats, supplies and solicited advice from home bakers.
By Stephanie Gibson Lepore
Sacramento, California, native Maribel (Mary) Ramos is continuing a local legacy at Louise’s Cakes & Supplies, located on Pelham Parkway and in business since 1981. Not only does she bake and decorate gorgeous cakes and other confections that are widely regarded as the best among her faithful customers, but she is also readily available to moms who need a little help piping flowers for their child’s homemade birthday cake or another local bakery who needs emergency supplies from her array of sprinkles, utensils, cake boxes, and anything else one could possibly need. She helps because she’s been there, and her heart is truly to serve others.
A Birmingham Legacy Continues
“I was a home baker,” Mary says, who made cakes for friends and family, including her own children. She came to Alabama from the West Coast for her husband’s job about five years ago. “I worked in the financial field, and one day I said to my husband, “This doesn’t fulfill me.” He said, “You like to bake; why don’t you start your own business?”” He wasn’t joking. He returned home one day to tell Mary he came across a bakery and he was going to buy it for her. “He’s extra!” she says, laughing. “He thinks I can run the world.”
As it turned out, the previous owner, Emily—who took over Louise’s from the original owner, Louise Dennis, and operated the bakery for a decade—was having her first baby and wanted to spend more time at home. “I had already raised my kids, so the bakery was going to be my baby,” says Mary. “I’d never owned a store before, but Emily stayed on for three months to help teach me, and then I took over.”
Tasty Treats and Trendy Supplies
Mary brought her talents and desire to help others to Louise’s, but she didn’t change a thing about the shop. “We are a full-service bakery, and everything is the same as it’s been since Miss Louise first opened—we still use all of her original recipes.” Specialties include cakes, of course, but also cupcakes, cookies, and seasonal treats.
While she’s proud of those—“Our cakes are beautiful, and they taste good, too”—Mary is equally proud of the selection of baking supplies Louise’s offers. Boxes, sprinkles in rainbow hues, spatulas, cookie cutters, cake boards, flavored oils, edible glitters and lusters, and anything else baking-related you could possibly need can be found in the supply section.
“I’m constantly researching what’s available [in the baking world] and what’s trending or popular,” Mary says. “That part of the business kept us going during Covid, because everyone was baking at home.” Mary calls her customers “the girls,” because they become like family—and it’s likely she sees a little bit of her younger self in them, too.
The home baker moms and even the ones who are running businesses from their homes, they are the reason my passion is so big. I have a heart for helping, and I love to show them how to perfect a technique or try a different approach. They always say they don’t know what they’d do without me—and they are exaggerating—but I truly want to help!Mary Ramos, Owner, Louises’s Cakes and Things
Mary is also a lifeline to local bakeries, who know they can call her if they forget to order cake boxes or run out of a decorative ingredient. “I love that,” Mary says. “The sun shines for everybody; there’s plenty of business for everybody.”
Classes for Bakers of All Ages
Even more than meeting a need or even baking cakes, Mary’s favorite part of the business is teaching classes. “We have two types of students: Ladies who want to have fun or participate in an activity, and hustlers who want to learn the business but can’t afford to attend culinary school. I learned on the job, so I want to encourage them,” she says. “They just need to learn the tools and techniques, and then practice. You must put in the work—there’s no cheating in this job!”
Mary has found that Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons work best for most people, and you’ll find her sharing with others what she has already perfected. “It’s so much fun and I love it,” she says. “It’s so helpful to the people who are here to learn, and it’s amazing to see their development and watch them succeed.” One customer recently confided to Mary that her cake decorating classes helped to bring her out of depression and discover her purpose. “I have those moments where I see that I’m making a difference,” she says. “To me, it’s much more than a bakery.”
Louise’s also offers kids’ classes, where families are welcome. “The technology available to kids nowadays is great, but there’s something special about putting that down and doing something with your hands,” Mary says. “The kids all enjoy it.” The bakery also plays host to children’s birthday parties. “We have lots of videos of our kids’ parties on Instagram (@louisescakesbhm). Once they pick their theme—anything from Frozen to LOL Dolls to TikTok—we tailor it to their age; it’s not the same for a 5-year-old and a 13-year-old,” says Mary. “We just do whatever they want. Our goal is for them to have fun and feel their party was a success.”
A Sweet Future in Alabama
Speaking of success, Mary celebrated her four-year anniversary with Louise’s February 6, and she has her sights set on the future. “I love Alabama. It’s so beautiful here—a hidden jewel. And now we are on the hunt for a second location,” she says. “There’s so much opportunity here.”
“Overall, my goal is to be one of those special memories—a core memory like in the movie Inside Out—whether it’s a custom cake or a birthday or a wedding. I had a customer say recently that her wedding cake came from Louise’s, and she wanted her daughter’s [wedding cake] to come from here, too!”