Cake or Death Taking Vintner’s Corner

Perhaps the most talked about piece of real estate in downtown Leesburg since news broke of the impending retirement of Leesburg Vintner owner Mike Carroll will soon have a new name.

            Cake or Death, the latest brainchild of restaurateur Curtis Allred, will take over the Vintner’s space at the corner of King and Loudoun streets by year’s end. Allred said he hopes to be open in time for the holiday season.

            Allred’s latest restaurant project, which will join others in the Rocket Collective Hospitality family including Leesburg restaurants Delirium Cafe USA, Balls of Glory and the forthcoming Wild Wood Pizza, was more about timing than anything else, he said. Allred said he tried to convince Carroll to keep the Vintner running under new ownership, and had previously even proposed a partnership to help staff the wine shop in the evenings while neighbor Delirium and other downtown restaurants were in full swing. 

            When news broke about Carroll’s retirement, Allred said he reached out to him to ask permission to touch base with building owner Shirley Pearson about renting the space where the Vintner has operated since 1988. 

            “I asked Mike permission, almost like how you ask permission to marry someone’s daughter is what it felt like, to touch base with Shirley about leasing the space after Mike’s retirement and he gave me his blessing,” Allred said. “I knew that her phone was going to be ringing off the hook for that space.”

            Allred said he and his wife had remarked for years how great it would be to have a dessert spot in the downtown area and the concept for Cake or Death was born. The shop will feature a storefront for local bakers to sell their cupcake and pastry offerings, and also will offer custom orders. In addition to the three independent pastry cases, Cake or Death will also feature some of its own wares, with all baking done off site at a commissary kitchen. Allred said he is just beginning the outreach process to local bakers, so is not sure yet who will be featured.

            “Pastries are one of those things you can enjoy all day long. [We’ll offer] a little bit of sweet and savory for pastries, along with coffee, cappuccino and espresso. It really is focused on cupcakes, cakes, and pastries. I think that’s something we’ve been missing downtown,” he said.

            In addition to coffee and espresso beverages, Cake or Death will also have eight sparkling wines on draft, more wine and sparkling wines by the glass or bottle, and a selection of beer.

            “The idea is it’s a celebratory place. We celebrate with cakes, we celebrate with champagne. There’s no reason we can’t celebrate the idea of celebrating and not need to wait for an anniversary or birthday,” Allred said. 

            Hours for the shop are expected to be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, offering downtown visitors an after-dinner dessert spot should they desire. In addition to cake or drink on demand, Cake or Death will also allow customers to place custom orders, or even sign up for a monthly subscription service where a selection of cupcakes would be paired with a bottle of sparkling wine and glassware. 

            Along with staffing his latest venture, Allred’s company Rocket Collective Hospitality will be doing a hiring event for positions at all of his restaurants Oct. 1-3, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day at Delirium Cafe USA, located at 101 S. King St. 

            While Cake or Death is eying an end of year opening, Allred is anticipating a late October opening for Wild Wood Pizza in the Village at Leesburg.

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