King Cake Connection Offers a Place for Black-Owned Businesses To Showcase Their Holiday Delicacy

Pictured: Viola’s Breads King Cake

King cake season is here and it can be hard to keep up with the amazing cakes various bakeries offer. A local foodie has created King Cake Connection, a spot featuring king cakes made by Black-owned bakeries.

Jalence Isles was born and raised in New Orleans and has always loved food. She was working in the finance world when she joined the Facebook group “Where NOLA Eats,” and when she noticed the lack of diversity and support for Black-owned restaurants in that group, she started her own Facebook group. Where Black NOLA Eats boosts Black-owned restaurants to increase their visibility in New Orleans and surrounding areas.

“I learned that despite owning more than half of the city’s businesses, minority business owners are only earning two percent of the city’s small business income,” Isles explained.

Mardi Gras is one of Isles’ favorite holidays, and she’s always enjoyed trying the city’s different king cakes. She had heard about King Cake Hub, the one-stop shop where local bakeries sell their king cakes to eager patrons, and was excited to visit and try the different cakes the Hub had to offer. While she recognized many of the featured bakeries, she noticed a need for king cakes made by Black-owned bakeries. Isles was inspired and thought a great addition to the king cake scene would be an outlet that featured king cakes made by Black-owned bakeries.

She said, “I thought it was necessary to extend that same opportunity to the Black-owned business owners that I know through Where Black NOLA Eats.”

Isles was enjoying king cake at one of her favorite spots, B Sweet Bistro & Bakery, when owner Brittney Walker approached her with the same idea of creating a spot that featured king cakes made by Black-owned bakeries. Isles took this as a sign to open her first King Cake Connection spot at Seven Three Distilling Company in 2022.

“It was mid-season and I called venues to see who might be interested,” she said. “Seven Three Distilling was very supportive and let me set up inside their showroom. It was a whirlwind getting things together, and we had a good start to the business, especially because it was right in the middle of carnival.”

Seven Three Distilling changed ownership in 2023, leaving Isles searching for a new home for King Cake Connection. She contacted the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, and they were eager to welcome Isles in for King Cake Connection’s first full season that year.

Isles powered through the 2023 season even when her father became ill and passed away. When King Cake Connection ended that season, she realized how much the businesses and the people she met kept her together during that difficult time.

“When it ended for the season I had a hard time,” she said. “I fell apart and could barely function for months.”

At the end of last year, Isles had to decide if she would bring King Cake Connection back for another year; she was hesitant because of the grief she felt in losing her father. However, when The Historic New Orleans Connection reached out to her, telling her that they would love to welcome King Cake Connection into their fold for the season, she was excited about the opportunity to have two locations for her business.

She said, “I thought it was a great idea because the business owners we work with don’t have lines of people standing outside of their brick-and-mortars; some don’t even have brick-and-mortars. I like that The Historic New Orleans Collection is centered where our visitors are and those visitors help sustain our economy.”

In December, Isles went to work making 2024’s King Cake Connection come together. King Cakes and other sweets offered at the Connection include Adrian’s Bakery, A.J. Treats, B Sweet Bistro, Heavenly Sweets Bakery, MadiCakez, NOLA Cookie Co., and Viola’s Heritage Breads. Furthermore, Mardi Gras crafts from Conrad Rose, who makes king cake candles; Domchanel Mixed Media Arts, who makes Mardi Gras-themed handmade ornaments; and Paige Made, who makes handmade necklaces, will be featured at King Cake Connection. 

In addition to full-size king cakes, King Cake Connection also offers mini king cakes and slices so that king cake lovers can try various brands throughout the season.

On February 3, King Cake Connection will host a king cake tasting party at The Historic New Orleans Connection featuring live music, a photo wall, and a selection of cakes for tasting. More information will be available soon; follow King Cake Connection’s Instagram to stay up to date.

King Cake Connection’s hours are, The Historic New Orleans Collection 520 Royal St., Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Southern Food & Beverage Museum 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., Thursday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The final day for both locations is February 9.

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