A sweet dream comes true for Chesapeake woman during the pandemic

Virginia Beach


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — On the map since the early 1960s, Plaza Bakery founded by the Freeman family is now in the hands of Cristal Spellman.

The former educator bought the bakery in October just as nearly half of the nation’s minority-owned businesses were closing for good.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

“It was very difficult because we had people who were still afraid to come out,” said Spellman.

Another hurdle was duplicating local favorites such as the wildly popular Plaza Bakery petit fours.

( Photo courtesy: Cristal Spellman)

“Our petit fours are the most popular item; that is one of the things we work on really really hard because we can’t keep them on the shelf,” said Spellman. They are labor-intensive but addictively delicious.

Spellman shared how they are constructed. “We have a pan that we start of with a whole cake and we slice each one of them individually and then we ice them individually. We have to freeze them to make sure they dry correctly; then they come out for the process of decorating,” said Spellman.

The creations bring back sweet memories for loyal customers such as George Burdett. For Burdett, the bakery brings back fond memories from his childhood.

“My parents never missed getting a birthday cake from there and going to Princess Anne Park and having a picnic,” said Burdett.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

But as infection numbers are moving in the wrong direction, Spellman is concerned the trends could be a recipe for disaster. This week Virginia reported its highest number of new coronavirus cases in two months.

Spellman has five employees and plans to expand offerings at the Hilltop location. She is hopeful vaccinations and mitigation efforts will contain a virus that threatens lives and livelihoods.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

“Right now we are on faith and we want to make sure that we are still here for people who need that pick me up[in the form of desserts]. We’ve been in this coronavirus so long and so we want to still be able to have customers have that happy moment and have the sweets that make them happy,” said Spellman.

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