Situated in the heart of Wantage, along Grove Street, lies “The Cake Bar”: a charming new café with a heart-warming story…

“The Cake Bar” only recently opened on 2nd December 2022 by two brave Ukrainian refugees and best friends, Alyona and Lara. They left their home in Kyiv due to the Ukrainian war and have found a place of calm in Wantage, where they arrived on 25th May 2022. They have been welcomed with open arms by their host family of whom Alyona says she is grateful for their selfless generosity. Yet, she also takes care to humbly speak about Wantage’s welcoming community and amazing attitude. This may have encouraged her to start this aesthetic café. She’s found safety and a home in Wantage, perfect for her and her daughter, aged 9, and Lara’s son, aged 11, who have both comfortably settled into a local primary school.

Although they have yet to hang up a sign, people walking past are immediately drawn in by this café’s beautiful display of delicate cakes. And people stay for the moving story and irresistible flavours. I ate one of their most popular cakes “Chocolate Cherry”, which tasted mouth-wateringly luxurious: perfect for a chocoholic!

Despite neither of these ladies having had any experience running a business or café back in Ukraine, they’ve immediately captured this little town’s heart. In the midst of their overwhelming situation, they’ve made the most of it and regained some control. Alyona says they were inspired whilst wandering around Wantage, and not seeing cafés serving these delicate cakes that they liked. Inspiration struck, and they set to work “step by step” with finding a kitchen, premises, legislations etc.

Their host family provided the kitchen in their home, which is where Lara bakes all their idyllic cakes. She has a talented hobby for cooking and baking “unusual” treats. Her recommendations are the “Chocolate Cherry” and “Raspberry and Pistachio” cakes. But this cozy café has a wide variety of patisserie-style indulgent cakes.

Despite it being January (typically the hardest month in retail), and Lara not being able to speak English, their café has been flourishing! Demand for these cakes increases in popularity day by day. And more is yet to come! As “The Cake Bar” has plans to expand their variety of foods, including vegan, gluten free, and lunch options. And they have intentions of having cafés in bigger towns like Abingdon and Swindon. Both ladies feel extremely thankful for their host family’s generosity, therefore would like to get a kitchen somewhere nearby, to lessen the burden on their host family in their private kitchen.

It’s easy to say that this calm town has been enriched by their story and I’m sure “The Cake Bar” will be appreciated as a long-lasting gem in Wantage.