It’s not often that I get to preview a much-hyped bakery, and it’s also not often I get to complain about local busybody community residents, but I’m proud to announce that I’ll be doing both in this humble post. The setup is simple. My friend Jenny, a.k.a The Dessert Darling, emailed me full of excitement, perhaps stemming from a sugar high (she eats many cupcakes for her site), to alert me that the famed Magnolia Bakery was finally opening up a Los Angeles outpost this Friday. Did I want to join on opening day for a cupcake or two?
I’m not one to turn down cupcakes; so obviously, I said yes. We eventually agreed to meet this afternoon, and after braving through some intense midday traffic, no thanks to the ill-timed stoplights on Fairfax, I finally made my way to Magnolia. I was immediately shocked by the lack of customers. There always seems to be a secret Mommy newsletter that goes out every time a cupcake shop opens in Los Angeles, and as such, I just assumed there’d be lines (not to mention balloons) up the wazoo. There were none. All I found was an empty bakery with no one but Jenny.
Well, it wasn’t just Jenny. The owner of all the Magnolia Bakeries was there too. This was kind of like meeting Ben of Ben & Jerry’s. Turns out that there’s a ton of red tape to navigate through when opening a business, and because of said bureaucracy, Magnolia’s opening day had to be pushed off to the next day. That’s right: no cupcakes today.
The owner took pity on us though, and he happily supplied Jenny and I with the shop’s world famous banana pudding. Let me tell you — I’m not a banana pudding guy. It’s fine — don’t get me wrong — but I always gravitate towards chocolate desserts (particularly when talking about pudding). Well, chocolate biases be damned. This pudding was tasty. Very tasty. Heck, I’m fairly certain it just dethroned Baby Blues Barbeque for banana pudding king of the city.
The famed banana pudding.
Dessert Darling gives the pudding a taste…
Even better, since Jenny and I were tasting this pudding, this meant we had exclusive bragging rights to say that we were the first food bloggers to sample the wares at LA’s Magnolia Bakery. And in the end, who cares about reviews? It’s all about bragging (although, technically, I believe Eater LA got there before us, but we’ll just ignore that. Or rather, we’ll just say we were part of the “First Wave.”)
Dessert Darling basking in the emptiness of the bakery.
General enthusiasm. My shirt is alarmingly red in this picture.
Jenny with the owner of Magnolia. He’s like THE MAYOR OF MAGNOLIAVILLE. He also has outposts in NY (obvs) and Dubai. Chicago is en route.
As Jenny and I chowed down on our complimentary dessert, we learned from someone else who had wandered into the shop that the reason why Magnolia had to delay its opening is because there apparently is a major shakedown going on with the local businesses on third street. This is where the scandal happens.
First, let me just preface what I’m about to say with this: I’ve received this information from only one source, and I really cannot speak to its veracity. However, I like to think that rumor is fact, and furthermore, I’m a blogger, not a journalist; so who cares? It’s a fun yarn no matter what.
So here’s the deal.
Allegedly there’s a cabal of about four older ladies who pitch a fight every single time a new business opens on Third Street. Their complaint is that the new business will kill the old business — sort of the usual crabbiness from old ladies who have nothing better to do than butt their heads into civic affairs. However, there’s a twist. These women are ardently against new shops opening up, and they make life hell for anyone trying do business or receive permits. The new deli down the street has had to apply for permits three times, and they’ve been sued three times by these ladies.
The only thing allegedly that shuts them up, it seems, is cold hard cash. Yes, the word is that unless these ladies are paid off, they just push the red tape on the business owners trying to make things happen. The head lady even received a condo in Palm Desert curiously on the same day that The Grove broke ground several years ago.
When I heard this, I immediately asked why the planning boards and various city agencies dealing with this crap don’t just dismiss the claims from these women. After all, doesn’t it get tiresome to hear the same complaint over and over again? Well, it turns out that the head lady (a.k.a the one with the condo in Palm Desert) is friends with the local Councilman’s wife. And furthermore, she sits on some Democratic nomination board and holds some political sway in the community. I know I could not make this sound more vague, but please understand that I was taking in these details while simultaneously enjoying banana pudding.
The point is that the head old lady is well connected, and as such, she has free reign to extort these businesses for money. The women are like the Mafia, except more mothbally. Case in point, here’s a threatening letter they allegedly left on the car of a Magnolia Bakery employee:
So why do I care so much? Well, I’m still smarting over my experience with the West Hollywood Planning Commission two years ago. That experience revealed to me how idiotic and entitled local neighbors can be, often at the expense of the greater community at large. These assholes represent a small minority of the community and shouldn’t be able to dictate which businesses come into town, nor should they be able to call the shots on how late they can and cannot be open. Should the accusations about these old women on Third Street be true, then that’s just another example of small-minded ninnies digging their heels into the ground (with the added touch of ILLEGAL BRIBERY) and making hell for the surrounding population.
Rah rah rah!
Fight the old ladies!!!
Oh, and visit Magnolia Bakery too!