King Cake Hub connects area bakeries with Carnival pop-up

Khayla Gaston


Hannah Renton

Epiphany brand king cakes are on display at the King Cake Hub in New Orleans on Feb.12, 2022. Epiphany king cakes are a King Cake Hub exclusive and only available till Lundi Gras, Feb. 28, 2022.

Khayla Gaston, Equity and Inclusion Officer

New Orleans is home to a vast array of people, parties, and types of king cake.

King Cake Hub, a seasonal pop-up shop, gives New Orleanians the opportunity to sample dozens of different king cakes without having to drive all over town to do so. So far, King Cake Hub has partnered with 17 local bakeries to sell a wide array of king cakes.

King Cake Hub co-founder Jennifer Samuels said the idea for the pop-up grew from her and her daughter Livia making a list of all the unique king cakes they desired to try around the city. Throughout the course of their day, any family member who traveled near one of those bakeries were obligated to return home bearing the layered cakes in hand, Samuels said.

Her husband Will Samuels, a local restaurateur who died in 2021, grew tired of the scavenger hunts and saw a niche to fill for the New Orleans community, Samuels said.

“So at one point, he got kind of aggravated and he was like, ‘somebody needs to just create a place where all the king cakes are in one spot so you don’t have to run all around town,’” Samuels said.

Samuels agreed with her husband and the pair put the idea for King Cake Hub into action in 2018. With humble beginnings inside Will Samuel’s previous restaurant, Pizza Nola, King Cake Hub now allows customers to peruse through hundreds of King Cakes while looking for their perfect Carnival treat.

For Samuels, one of the most important elements of King Cake Hub’s operation is ensuring her partner bakeries receive the support and appreciation they deserve. During the onset of COVID-19, Samuels said she witnessed the effects the shut down had on small businesses firsthand.

“Bakeries’ ingredient costs are going up, and everyday there’s so many new issues that they are dealing with that I don’t think they ever dreamed about,” she said. “The feedback that we were getting from the bakeries was just an appreciation for having those consistent sales from our business that they could count on.”

One of King Cake Hub’s partners is Brennan’s New Orleans, a Creole restaurant that’s served customers at its French Quarter location for nearly seven decades.

Patrick Brennan, the associate director of operations at Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group views King Cake Hub as, “a very New Orleans operation.”

“Pulling the community together of different bakeries and combining everybody all in one space feels to me like something that wouldn’t happen in a lot of places but New Orleans,” Brennan said. “I credit the King Cake Hub with part of the craze for all the unique flavored king cakes.”

Brennan’s New Orleans began selling king cakes two years ago including a cake inspired by the restaurant’s famous Bananas Foster.

Damijah Strange, a Loyola junior, said she loves visiting the King Cake Hub during carnival season.

Strange said her favorite treat to pick up at the hub is the Brennan New Orleans’ strawberry cream cheese king cake.

“With being an out-of-state student, the King Cake Hub provides so many options ensuring we the customers get the ultimate taste of New Orleans,” she said.

Samuels said bringing joy to her customers is what she loves most about the King Cake Hub.

“Our customers are usually very happy people,” she said. “They’re here buying cake and having fun.”