These local restaurateurs didn’t think twice about starting their new dessert venture amid uncertainty.

Starting a business is always a challenge: even more so during a pandemic. When Jim and Lori Caprara were planning and building their new dessert restaurant, they couldn’t have imagined a scenario quite like this. Located in the walk live community of Maple Lawn, Decadent Desserts was envisioned as a second act, a place where people could come to after dinner and get a dessert and a glass of wine. Instead, they had to transition to a carryout bakery.

Decadent Desserts opened for business on Friday, March 13, 2020, just four days before Maryland Governor Larry Hogan ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses. It took a lot of businesses by surprise and most were unsure if they could continue to operate or not. The Capraras immediately decided they would not furlough any staff. They had spent a lot of time finding the right people, many of whom left positions at other companies to join Decadent Desserts. 

They continued working as they had in the first days of opening, promoting their desserts and pastries of the day on local Facebook group pages. All 80 seats in the restaurant were removed to promote social distancing, and curbside pickup was added. The restaurant was busy from open to close as neighborhood residents came in to pick up cake slices, pastries, cupcakes, and breakfast avocado toast. It was then the Caparas realized the importance of staying open. 

“Right now people need something normal, some happiness,” said Jim Caprara. “So, if you take a walk on a nice day and pick up something sweet, you’re also offering up a little slice of how things were before the virus landed.”

Whereas a typical restaurant has a small selection of desserts, Decadent offers a wide range of items, including gourmet cake slices, cheesecake, gourmet cookies and brownies, macaroons, and warm items like dessert skillets and chocolate lava cakes. Gelato is made in-house and can be incorporated into shakes, smoothies, or a la mode to your favorite dessert. All the sweets can be paired with a selection of wines, draft beers, coffees, and house-made draft root beer.  

Decadent Dessert's famous wedding cake

Decadent Dessert's famous wedding cake, courtesy Facebook

Running a restaurant during a pandemic has been challenging for everyone. As businesses switch to a takeout model, the demand for takeout boxes and containers has been fierce. This has been the biggest challenge for Decadent Desserts, says Caprara. The type of packaging seems to change by the day, almost as frequently as the daily dessert lineup. Still, customers haven’t noticed the changes, as long as they can satisfy their sweet tooth.

When the pandemic eases and Decadent Desserts is able to operate normally, the Capraras plan to add entertainment with live acoustic music on the weekends and open mic nights for young artists under 21. They also hope to add more baristas in the morning as people return to their normal routines of grabbing coffee and breakfast out. Until then, they will keep the ovens full of cake, cookies, and pastries.

Have you been to Decadent Desserts yet? What's your favorite family-owned bakery or eatery? Tell us in the comments!