There’s a flurry of inspiring openings in the East Bay as the leaves turn brown this fall. Good Luck Gato just opened on San Pablo Avenue with izakaya-meets-cantina vibes aplenty, and Fikscue is set to bring Indonesian and Texas-style barbecue to Alameda next month. But a Black-owned cake shop in Oakland’s Montclair neighborhood is cause for celebration for anyone in the Bay Area, as the Pew Research Center finds just about 3 percent of businesses in the United States are owned by Black Americans.
Eva Allen, the founder of Full Belly Bakery, is opening the doors to her first permanent space at 2087 Unit A Mountain Boulevard on October 20 with a grand opening from 2 to 8 p.m. The event is open to everyone with items from the entire menu available before new items — such as quick breads and savory options like the garlic pesto brioche roll — appear on Saturdays and Sundays only going forwards. Allen is poised to take her business to higher heights than ever, and that certainly reflects her ambitions. “Selfishly, my goal is to take over the dessert space,” Allen says. “I just want to keep expanding and bringing people high-quality, delicious desserts and pastries.”
The menu is a bit different than Allen had originally planned, but not tremendously so. There’s a year-round set menu that includes five flavors of cake, which Allen calls her Gratification Collection, then a second tier of Indulgence Collection cakes that includes three seasonal offerings. There’s also one ultra-lux league of cakes Allen calls the Extravagant Collection. These are whatever cakes Allen is most excited about at the moment, her passion project; upon opening, that cake is a pistachio sponge with a combination of Moro blood orange curd, whipped Ambanja, and Madagascar-sourced chocolate ganache that’s topped with edible 24K gold leaf. The eight-inch cake costs $575. “If you get it you get it,” Allen laughs.
Rather than a late-night wine and cake spot, and beyond that singular high price point, the business is really a classic neighborhood bakery. Pastries have joined the cake line-up in lieu of drinks, and in full force: Quick breads including banana and zucchini, savory and sweet tarts, cookies, chocolate truffles, gluten-free cheesecakes, scones, and a few bread items on the weekends. The owner predicts those garlic rolls, buttery and fluffy, will fly off the racks, barely cooled. She’s still waiting on a liquor license, but Allen says if it doesn’t work out she’ll open another space for glasses of Champagne and dessert. Cakes are for the most part meant for pre-order, though slices and cake cups will be available, too.
There aren’t many bakeries in the neighborhood — Highwire Coffee Roasters and a smattering of chain cafes sell goodies in the area — and the entrepreneur knew that when she picked the location. Allen even took sheet cakes to Montclair in anticipation of the opening, as she scouted locations, hosting cake giveaways to let future neighbors know she’d be opening. It was those neighbors who told her to sell bread on the weekends, to coordinate with the farmers market, and who are supporting this new chapter in Allen’s story. She’s not sure if her future includes multiple locations or the e-commerce Milk Bar route, but she knows she wants Full Belly to be a household name. “I’m excited to be A) a Black woman with a storefront,” Allen says, “and B) a Black pastry chef.”
Full Belly Bakery (2087 Unit A Mountain Boulevard, Oakland) will be open Thursday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. after the grand opening’s 2 to 8 p.m. special hours.