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sweet lady jane- incredibly rude!

i had just had the worst customer service experience at sweet lady jane today. i'm typically very forgiving when it comes to service but today's experience just takes the cake. the woman helping us (with strawberry blonde hair) rolled her eyes at us several times (for what, i have no idea) and just seemed pretty abrasive. when we paid for our cake, she gave us our change by slamming it on the glass cake counter and walking away. there went her tip.

afterwards, my friend and i were talking about it in a marc jacobs store and several of the employees overheard us and chimed in. apparently, i guess sweet lady jane is notorious for not being so sweet after all.

anyway, we had the triple berry cake at SLJ...it was dry and overly sweet. the susina berry blossom cake is infinitely better!

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  1. I quit going there after experiencing continued rude service. Moreover, the last time I had any contact was when I called to order a custom-made cake. I was put on hold forever, when I called back I was put on hold again.Finally, I reached someone and explained that this was my third attempt at trying to place this order. I was told that I should call at a more "convenient" time. They lost my business.

    1. The rudest person in there is Jane. The second rudest is her husband though her husband appears as if he has the potential to be friendly. The rest of the crew is very nice. Jane's not so much rude as just very aloof. She appears oblivious to her customers. It is so odd to me--no people skills and she doesn't appear to care. Doesn't stop me from going there because she has great stuff and I don't really care if she's friendly or not.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bite Me

        yes, i agree. jane and her husband are soo rude, it's unbelieveable! they really need to change the name of the shop.
        nasty jane?
        rude jane?

      2. Wow - sorry to hear about that... another attitude pie in the face of a Chowhounder... I remember reading about their service issues in previous posts... I too had a less-than pleasing experience at SLJ a few monthes back, but it was more about indifference on the part of the staff.

        I just don't get how businesses that have people walking through their doors to shell out serious cash for their products can expect them to return or to refer their businesses to others when disrespect or indifference is shelled out in copious amounts to their customers.

        IMHO, I find SLJ's products to be great as well. I've mentioned this on other posts that Jane has a deft hand at making truly standout lemon desserts, almost as if she can make a lemon recite poetry. I would hope that they'd get their service issues taken care of, as so many other good to great competitors are but a short distance away. I for one would miss SLJ but at the same time, I won't tolerate being dissed when I'm the one paying the bill...

        2 Replies
        1. re: bulavinaka

          Absolutely. There are just too many good dessert places to settle on a place where you are emotionally abused! With a mom who makes great baked goods, I don't have to subject myself to that nonsense. One trip to SLJ (with plenty of attitude) was enough for me.

          1. re: running pig


            See my post re surly treatment at Chantilly Patisserie.


            Mr Taster
            Protect Chowhound
            Boycott Avatars!

        2. Wow, I guess it has been a while since I popped into SLJ for the second best Lemon Merangue Tart in California, it was $6.50 last time and up from $5.00!

          I've been going to SLJ since about, oh '97 or '98 and while I have heard of and don't discount the rude service, the staff has always been friendly or at least courtious during my visits!

          The cakes, the 3-Berry Cakes in particular, have always been perfect, never dry or of a reduced quality.Tarts, cookies always good except I recall having a hard time finding cookies sans nuts for my lads. Oh well, I guess I've just been lucky in the past but should stop by for a more current experience!

          3 Replies
          1. re: sel

            Okay - you've teased me with Jane's being second best. Where is number one?
            It must be descended from the bakeries in Heaven! Where where where?

            I really like their cakes as well. I've never had their sandwiches but I hear they're great too. But these postings on SLJ's manners or lack there of are starting to pick up steam. If one of our posters is a true regular there, please give the owners and staff a heads-up before the walls start crumbling down.

            1. re: bulavinaka

              I'm sorry but it's not local, my favorite bakery in CA is Tartine Bakery which is in San Francisco and has been covered ad nauseum on the S.S. ChowHound Board. It is worth enduring the crowds to enjoy their products if you are up there!

              I will add that my fave in S. Cal. is EuroPane in Pasadena.

              1. re: bulavinaka

                Folks, please keep your responses focused on the L.A. region. We've removed some posts talking about distant places, because they're not appropriate on the L.A. board. Sorry for the interruption.

            2. well... i didn't have a terrrible experience... so far.. but....
              they aren't the nicest ppl there.
              i was stopping by to grab a cake, and i was a little hesitant as to what i should order...
              of coarse... i don't know who this person is... she was sighning , totally annoyed...
              then she looked at the other customer behind me to move on the "someone who might be more decisive" which made me just order whatever they had.

              oh.. .by the way.....
              i went there for a cupcake.... of course.. no cupcake....
              it's like....going to a gas station and finding out that they ran out of gas!!!!
              i ended up walking out of there w. a $35 cake...

              1 Reply
              1. re: livnihs05

                I would have walked straight out! Nothing can make me pay my hard-earned money for rude service, even if it is the best!!

              2. I've hit the same attitude, on Valentine's day once! It was Jane's husband, captain Jerk. Worse, I watched him treat regualrs like kings, ang give them the final slice of cake I had ordered before they came in. What he did was take my order, they came one group after me. We both sat to wait. He gave them my cake, then came to me and told me they were all out. When I complained he was so rude and mean, he had me in tears. Both he and Jane didn't care. They'd sold their cake, so why bother makeing people happy?

                In my mind, if a customer is treated in such a way, you should bend over backwards to fix it. Jane's solution was to tell me "He's really not all that bad, really." and then tell me there was noting left without nuts for me to order, and blame me for coming in so late.

                I refuse to return.

                They have ego and attitude, and no famous item is worth that.

                1 Reply
                1. re: katkoupai

                  Went to SLJ a few weeks back after not going for years. First, big mistake going on a Saturday afternoon. It was crazy. We had decent service...not great...not awful. One complaint, we ordered french press coffee it did not arrive until we almost finished our cake. I ordered the marzipan tart. It was ok. VERY sweet and much almond flavor. My husband liked his lemon bars but again high on sweet factor low on flavor. Boy do I miss the old days of SLJ..good food...good service...sweet little neighbourhood joint...maybe they have just outgrown their space?

                2. Wow, strong feelings from all on this, and nary a word in defense!

                  My sister picked up some cake and didn't complain about the service, but the cakes she picked up were dry, the frosting was disgusting (too darkly colored with chemically food coloring--smelled like sewage, frankly), and when I e-mailed what I thought was a politely worded complaint they didn't even bother to respond.

                  Usually restaurants and such will write back a form letter like "Thank you for your input, we appreciate customer response." SLJ didn't even do that.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Pei

                    i haven't written in a while but had to chime in on this one. last year i tried to order a cake for my BF's b-day. i had never ordered a cake from them so i had some questions regarding flavor combinations. after every questions the woman answered me back in a complete huff and practically yelling back at me. i could practically see rolling her eyes at me with each question. i ended up in an arguement with her and she hung up on me. i thought maybe i was going crazy and wondered what i did wrong. right after i called susina and ordered a cake from them. the woman who answered was really nice and reassured me that i wasn't crazy to ask questions when i was about to plop down $70 bucks for a cake. there are so many wonderful places to get cake in this town that i no longer need to go back to SLJ after that incident.

                  2. I went to Sweet Lady (Shit) Jane for the first time a few weeks back and couldn't agree more with their terrible service and their awful tasting cakes!! I grew up in l.a. and I have walked by their place many times but the cakes never appealed to me. However to be fair I couldn't just form an opinion based on how they looked, so I tried the cakes. First, they didn't have a menu, so I didn't know what anything was. When I asked for a menu, they said the cakes are in the case, yet they don't have any labels. Anyway the service just kept getting worse. When I told my waiter that it was my first time in there, he looked at me like it was the worst thing in the world and was so shocked. Then told me to get the berry cake b/c then I can go around town saying I've had the best cake in l.a.

                    Suffice it to say, when I got the check it was ridiculous, paid half and walked out. Shouldn't have paid at all. What I don't understand is the fact that their cakes are really bad, aside from the service, they aren't good cakes. I don't get it people. The ingredients they use are so clearly sub par. I really really don't get it!!!

                    The cakes are heavy, with a sugar after taste. The frosting is thick, rock like and cheap. They really shouldn't be in business. The location is cute and the place itself has charm, but that's it. Unfortunately, they now have their cakes at Gelsons-good packaging. It's a shame that people like this Jane and her husband make money when they so clearly have no talent for baking and so clearly use cheap ingredients!!!

                    By the way I had the berry cake and some chocolate cake--

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: happyfoody

                      WOW! I haven't been to SLJ in over 15 years, but it seems that nothing has changed since then... Same crappy tasting over priced baked goods (hate to sully the word cake) and the rudest I-could-give-a-rats-butt-about-you-the-paying-customer attitude and service. Why oh why do people keep going back and keep these losers in business? Inquiring minds want to know.

                      1. re: OneJayneDoe

                        I personally like their cakes alot, especially their cakes with lemon curd. And I've also mentioned I really like their other lemon desserts, especially their lemon meringue tart. In addition to be an excellent rendition of lemon meringue, the meringue itself has bits of candied lemon zest in it, which really make this tart sing. Outside of that, I can't comment...

                    2. My friend had the same experience with service. She had ordered a cake, went to pick it up at the correct time and they did not have it ready and acted like she was in the wrong. The triple espresso cake still is amazing!

                      1. Anyone know if the stuff at the bakery is the same stuff that is sold in the giant display case at Gelson's Century City?

                        The stuff at Gelson's with the Sweet Lady Jane label is awful, way too sugary - no taste other than sugar -- and scary if you read the labels (transfats, anyone?)

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: omotosando

                          I don't know, but it sounds like the same crap they sell at the store---

                          They are so lucky they have little competition. Boule and Urth Cafe are fun. Where is Tartine?? I'll check it out.

                          1. re: happyfoody

                            San Francisco... and it's like cake paradise... where as SLJ seems to be where cakes go when they've sinned.

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              I ordered a triple berry cake from SLJ for my step-daughter's graduation party. When I went to pick up the over $200.00 cake, they were so rude I almost left without the cake! The only reason I even ordered it was because I had heard such wonderful things about their cakes. Frankly, I thought it was good, not great. Never again!!

                              1. re: Flour Child

                                This thread is pretty amazing. I live a block away, so I end up there a lot for my cheesecake fix (preferably Oreo), and I've never gotten the sort of service I see described here. With that said, I'll think twice whether to make the walk in the future.

                          2. re: omotosando

                            I have heard that the products sold in the supermarkets are made in a central commisary and are mass-produced,

                            1. re: maudies5

                              They certainly taste mass-produced. Let's put it this way, I think Hostess cupcakes taste better than the Sweet Lady Jane products that I tried at Gelsons (and are a lot cheaper too).

                              1. re: maudies5

                                I got a slice of cake at the gelson's in century city and couldn't see what the fuss was about. It was dry and kind of bland.

                            2. I've had some very good cakes from there (bought and brought by others), but will never go back myself due to very poor (non-existent) service.

                              1. I went once for lunch. ONCE. Service was awful so I've never returned.

                                1. I am loving this board. This year I have had cake from SLJ four times (lots of celebrations!). Two out of the four cakes were dry and overly sweet--I thought it was just a fluke, because I have always loved their cakes in the past. Hearing all these complaints tells me I should find another bakery. Any suggestions?

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: brandygirl


                                    i adore susina.

                                    try their berry blossom cake. :)

                                    1. re: greengelato

                                      A berry blossom cake sounds good. Where is Susina?

                                      1. re: brandygirl


                                        7122 beverly blvd. i think it's cross street is la brea.

                                        1. re: greengelato

                                          I just checked out the link you sent to Susina's website. It looks great. Thanks!

                                        2. re: brandygirl

                                          7122 Beverly Blvd
                                          (323) 934-7900

                                        3. re: greengelato

                                          Second... they have always been really nice! :)


                                          1. re: greengelato

                                            Last November, I was visiting Los Angeles and my daughter a student at USC for her birthday. After asking around for bakery recs, a week before I called Sweet Lady Jane to order a birthday cake(half sheet) which I needed delivered to the school.Sweet Lady Jane barely let me finish asking the question before they refused my order. The good news though was my next call was to Susina which agreed to make the cake-I wanted the Chocolate Raspberry Cake- and also delivered the cake on a Sunday morning exactly at the time I had requested. They were so kind and accomodating. The cake was delicious and beautiful receiving many compliments. Their cooperation and "can do" attitude gained me as a loyal fan and I was grateful for their service.

                                          2. re: brandygirl

                                            I like Susina a lot, but their service can be somewhat erratic. Not rude like SLJ, but some of their counter people are definitely more on the ball than others. I ordered a latte once and when it arrived, I tasted it and it had no milk in it. At all. I took it back and the manager apologized profusely and replaced it immediately, but afterwards I heard the boy who had waited in me in the back, "I didn't know a latte had milk in it!"

                                            1. re: sidwich

                                              I can accept an honest mistake, especially from a new employee who is learning ther ropes - I think we've all been there before...

                                              What gets me is attitude pies and snotty cakes thrown in my face with relish by the the people you are handing hard-earned money to...

                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                ROFL! In my head I hear the so-trendy people at SLJ going "blah blah blah snottycakes."

                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                  Such a shame - lots of potential only to be curtailed by a lack of common decency. I mean how much effort does it take to treat others as one would wish to be treated themselves?

                                                  I would be one of the happiest people on earth if I had the talent to create things that make people pull a broad smile, close their eyes, and relish their tastebuds in sublime bliss - and make a living doing it...

                                                  I would not want to leave my mark on this world as being known for my ability to roll my eyes and huff at people who might otherwise want to admire me... Those are talents revered in method acting... might thespians start appearing shoulder-to-shoulder in front of their store and press their noses up against the windows to peer in for a glimpse of a true master at work?

                                                  Of all the places that one could go on an average day, a bakery should be one of the happier experiences to encounter in daily life. I would think the owners would need to make an assessment whether they are acheiving this in their endeavors, or if it is even strikes them as at least obligatory to do so... If not, maybe they need to step away from the counter... maybe even step away from the business altogether...

                                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                                    I agree that "a bakery should be one of the happier experiences...."
                                                    This is one reason SusieCakes in Brentwood has attracted such a loyal following. Susie (the owner) is warm, gracious and friendly and sets a great example for her staff. Moreover, her baked goods are excellent. Everyone leaves SusieCakes with a smile.

                                                    1. re: maudies5

                                                      I don't know, I've seen susiecakes and it looks like it's all frosting. I don't like that. A cake shouldn't be all frosting. I will say they were nice when I walked in, but you really have to have both the service and the product...

                                              2. re: sidwich

                                                That's funny! I love Susina and find the staff really well trained at making hot drinks - it must have been a total newbie.

                                                I never gave Sweet Lady Jane much of a chance to piss me off, since the overbearingly bright fluorescent lighting, cramped seating, and mediocre food pretty much put me off the place early on.

                                              3. re: brandygirl

                                                I vote for Paris Pastry at 1448 Westwood Blvd. in Westwood (just North of Ohio). They have a great Grand Marnier cake, a good lemon cake and delicious petit fours. :) Of course there is always Viktor Benes as well for reliably tasty goodies.

                                                1. re: TheHungryHapa

                                                  Hi HungryHapa... Also a fan of Viktor Benes, here. And i SHALL look into Paris Pastry in Westwood, based on your friendly referral. Thanks!

                                              4. Not being a huge sweets person, I don't go there often, but everyone I know has had a bad experience with them. I went once, years ago, to try their brownies after a times article on the best brownies in the city. They are just unprofessional. I have no idea how they stay in business, if I gave my clients that level of unprofessional behavior, I'd be out of a job. Not only were they slow and kind of nasty(all I wanted was a to go brownie) but the woman didn't even wash her hands after taking the previous customer's money and then packaging my brownie. I didn't even want to eat it. I'm shocked that they are still in business.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ecco22

                                                  They stay in business because people (including people on this thread) continue to patronize. I've never been there but will never go based on this thread. But they still don't seem to need my business.

                                                2. That's a shame. Their cakes aren't that good to begin with -really bland stuff- but inexcusable service makes them one of the worst and overrated bakeries in LA. And yes, it's hard to find a berry cream cake that tops Susina's berry blossom. If you haven't yet, try the St. Honore or the Bear cake (a very rich cake) with a cup of vanilla latte. Hard to beat.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jackkirby

                                                    Glad to know, I was thinking in trying their bake goods one of this days, now I will never go, I don't like bad attitude, especially when I am giving them my business.

                                                  2. Forget SLJ and go to Cake Walk. Here's a link to her website. www.cakewalkbakery.net
                                                    Debra makes the BEST cakes in LA. I have served her cakes at countless birthday parties and both kids and adults love them. They actually taste as good as they look. As one guest said after taking a big bite of the sublime cardamon cake with pistachio cream filling, "This is what a cake is supposed to taste like!!" The cakes aren't cheap..we aren't talking costco prices here, but they are worth every penny. And you won't get any attitude at Cake Walk. Real people and real good cakes!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: nipon

                                                      I'll have to check that out--it looks good. The area not so, but I'll still go.

                                                    2. FWIW, I went there a few years ago & liked the slice of berry cake I had, though it was very sweet.

                                                      1. Had a birthday cake from SLJ and while the decorating looked great, the cake was really bad! I don't mean bad for a $70 cake, I mean just plain discount shop cake bad. Cheaply frosted, cheap tasting some kind of chocolate cake. I was frankly shocked.

                                                        Apparently the service is terrible too. Maybe they reserve the good cakes and the friendly service for VIPS?! The hype has to come from somewhere right? I am just confounded.

                                                        1. how about "not so sweet lady jane" for starters. so glad the truth is out - finally after
                                                          years of medioce cloyingly sweet birthday cakes decorated in hideous colors never found in nature..how tired are we of that ole berry cake that gets carted out for
                                                          every la birthday.
                                                          thank god for City Bakery,Sprinkles,Bouley...the people of la have choices -where
                                                          people are friendly and the cakes and such are truly inspiring. perhaps SLJ and her
                                                          motley crew should visit the competition and undergo attitude adjustments along with a few new recipes..as the airlines constantly remind us - "we realize you have many
                                                          options, thank you for chosing us".
                                                          - yea for competition and the american way!

                                                          1. i'm actually the only one on this thread who had one really nice experience there. i'll agree that the number of other times i've gone, the service is so-so. the last time, however, was on my birthday, and one of the guys working there (don't recall if it was the husband or not.. probably not) was nice enough to give us a candle for my cupcake and actually led the whole place in singing 'happy birthday' to me.

                                                            1. They are all rude and the desserts aren't all that. I'll never go back.

                                                              1. I'll 56th that! The cakes and Jane are nasty. I've never understood the cult following, I've only been twice but being treated like dirt and eating a pound of horrible food coloring was more then enough to turn me off for life. Susina, Boule, MILK, even Toast, the neighborhood has so many better dessert options.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: mgn99

                                                                  The cult following can be explained by one word:


                                                                  Mr Taster
                                                                  Protect Chowhound
                                                                  Boycott Avatars!

                                                                2. I've tried the SLJ cakes a handful of times over the last 15 years, and I've never thought they were anything special. I just don't get the frenzy that used to go on about them, which luckily appears to have died down. They aren't bad, but they're nothing spectacular, and the prices are higher than they need to be. I echo what others have said about Susina. Good selection of sweets and the environment is much better. No one wants to deal with The Cranky when they're sitting down to enjoy a decadent slice of cake.

                                                                  1. Mexican wedding cookies -- the best I have ever had. I went for them three times. The second time I was treated nice. The firsrt time I was next in line and waited several minutes for the guy who just fisished serving the customer before me to chat and give her all the time in the world pillow talking her.I thought it was cool. Then she left the counter, walked out the door and he went into the back. I was out there by my self for several more minutes until I got the rude treatment. I would have left but my eyes had been on those cookies. I went back twice again and now it has been over two years -- no more. I do miss those cookies...

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: JeetJet

                                                                      They had some BEAUTIFUL Looking Polverones at Milk the last time we went. :)


                                                                    2. SLJ is the WORST when it comes to CS....it does not exist in this place. My partner requested a cake from there (at the recommendation of one of the bakers he was doing work for) and I went in to order it 2 weeks in advance and was told I was planning too far ahead and to come back closer to the time I needed it as they had too many orders to have dealt with my meager mini German Choc. Cake order. But, if you go to their website they encourage early orders. I guess when Katie Couric and Matt Lauer flew all the way out here to sample their cakes for the Today Weddings thing a few years back, that just put them over the moon. Even when I go to brunches that have pastries from SLJ, I will not touch them (as others have said, they taste very "chemically" and Costco-ish...IMHO)

                                                                      1. I have never been but maybe the 'rude' service is part of thier overall plan? Irony [or oxymoron] in the name Sweet Lady Jane? Like The Bucket years ago in Eagle Rock? Just an un-educated opinion!!!

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: haydn1796

                                                                          what's their plan regarding awful tasting "cakes"???

                                                                          1. re: haydn1796

                                                                            You have a good point. There is a type of customer who feels that rude service means the place is better than they deserve and therefore worth patronizing. Those who go back get what they so desperately need. There are many other examples in LA.

                                                                          2. So I'm on my way to a Christmas potluck, to which in a moment of weakness I have promised Sweet Lady Jane pastries. I'm running late, and the only thing remotely within my budget are some small gingerbread men, priced something on the order of six for ten dollars. I gulp and order the last ones left on the tray. She picks up the tray and goes in back.

                                                                            The store is pretty crowded. I wait for about ten minutes when I see my clerk. Where's my cookies? Oh, the chef forgot to decorate them. That's okay, I say, I'm in a hurry, I don't care. She disappears.

                                                                            Another ten minutes before I see the clerk again. Um, cookies? I'm in a hurry? Oh, the chef doesn't want to sell them undecorated.

                                                                            Five minutes after that, the cookies show up again on a tray in the display case. Before I can get the clerk's attention to remind her that I had ordered them twenty-five minutes ago, someone else tries to buy them, resulting in another five minutes of confusion and bad feelings. Another five minutes while they wrap them up, meticulously Christmas-wrapping the box after I explicitly said I didn't care.

                                                                            And then they present the bill: eighteen dollars for six small gingerbread men. Oh, no, that ten dollar sign was a mistake -- that's not what we charge for decorated cookies.

                                                                            Guess how many times I've been there since then.

                                                                            1. I too suffered the rolling eyes syndrome here.. I got to ask what 3 of the cakes were before they grew tired of me.. I settled on the orange buttercream which was delicious but since I drove all the way from Glendale to go here I thought to myself.. won't be coming back anytime soon. A couple of years ago I went to a birthday party a friends house and they had an incredicible tasting cake in the shape of a gingerbread house. It was so moist and the buttercream frosting was scrumptious. It was from the Bees Knees Bakery between Eagle Rock and Pasadena on Colorado Blvd. I had to have another one.. so I got one for my mom's birthday. It was $60 for a 9" cake with fresh flowers. It was very tall, maybe 4 layers or so. It too was awesome. I'm going back again in 2 weeks.. can't wait!


                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                              1. re: carradine65

                                                                                Carradine, if you want to try another great, fresh and not over-priced cake that is in Eagle Rock, go to Ruby's Bakery on Eagle Rock Blvd (just south of Colorado, same block as Swork). They make a fantastic fresh strawberry and real whipped cream cake that is out of this world. I usually get it for parties and got it for my niece's baptism and everyone always raves. They do the basic decoration (roses, etc.) but I have also seen advertising that they can screen a picture on the cakes too, but have not had the need to try that service. I love the fact that it is a small bakery and they really care about what they do. They also have great hours (opened 7 days a week). They only take cash. Try it and let me know what you think.

                                                                                1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                  Thank you for that.. my daughter's name is Ruby .. we pass this place all the time and will have to try that strawberry cake you mentioned.

                                                                                  1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                    They use real whipped cream now? I went looking for a real whipped cream cake for my wedding 6 years ago and they didn't offer one. It's good news if they do -- the cakes always looked good to me.

                                                                                    1. re: carradine65

                                                                                      This is such a pet peeve of mine...not just at SLJ but at many bakeries. How much effort would it really take to LABEL the items so that we would not have to ask what everything is? Are we really just supposed to settle on the prettiest one?

                                                                                      1. re: running pig

                                                                                        EXACTLY. That way they won't have to roll their eyeballs because we won't have to ask to find out what each item is. So simple to do and so much more efficient.

                                                                                        1. re: running pig

                                                                                          The first time I went to Susina I was overwhelmed by all the delicious looking cakes and when the guy at the counter asked if I wanted an explanation of anything I jokingly said "everything!" He then proceeded to tell me the details of each cake with a big fat friendly smile on his face. Now THAT'S customer service!

                                                                                          1. re: rds246

                                                                                            WOW! That, in and of itself, is good enough reason to go...an employee who KNOWS the product and is proud enough to share that info with you. YAY!

                                                                                      2. I must admit to being very surprised at a lot of the comments here not to mention the number of them. SLJ has had a long-standing reputation as a "go-to" place, but customer service (or lack thereof) at this level, not to mention the absence of friendliness and common courtesy like this is going to hurt them big time in the long run.

                                                                                        I wonder if somebody giving this thread to one of the owners of SLJ would do anything.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: RSMBob

                                                                                          Who cares. There are so many other places to go to and again customer service is part of it, their cakes taste awful!!

                                                                                          1. re: RSMBob

                                                                                            I would imagine the probability of a SLJ fan reading this post and passing the word on to them would be extremely high. The problem is I don't think they have it in them to either admit to themselves that they have major service issues, or that maybe they don't even care... Take your pick - I strongly feel that one guess is as good as the other...

                                                                                          2. I've been quite intriqued by this thread and enjoying every post. I've never been to SLJ and now I can just cross them off my list. I have no desire to hand over any part of my hard earned money to someone who'll treat me poorly. Especially not for what apparently are inferior products.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: slacker

                                                                                              Seeing the number of posts increase by the hour, I had to give my "+1". I stopped going several years ago, after giving them a few tries. I would not recommend it to anyone looking for quality cakes/desserts.

                                                                                            2. Wow, it's been a couple of years since I've been there--they never struck me as overly friendly, but never rude. Rudeness is so "low end"--what are they thinking?! (A bad "corporate" culture--starting from the top I presume.)

                                                                                              I really liked their date bars--do they still make those?

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                                rudeness from someone working in a retail establishment does typically flow downhill.

                                                                                              2. i also had a horrific experience there when trying to buy a wedding cake. i wanted a chocolate cake covered in ganache, simple with wide layers in a round shape with no embellishments. just very tall with delicious layers on the inside. i saw an example of it in her catalog, it was gorgeous, very simple, but the one in the catalog had flowers around it.

                                                                                                i asked for what i wanted and she said they have to have embellishments...i asked why and turned to the cake in the catalog, and she said if i want to spend an additional $400 on flowers they would makle the cake anyway i want.

                                                                                                wtf? i was already going to be spending $500+ on the cake, shouldn't it look the way I want it to look? and she was amazingly, ground breakingly, gob stoppingly, jaw droppingly rude.

                                                                                                my friend, who has a catering business in SF, offered to make it for me in my kitchen and it was FANTASTIC!!! the most stunningly beautiful and delicious wedding cake i have ever tasted.

                                                                                                1. This is an amazing thread, now more than 100 posts about one overhyped bakery on Melrose that so many of us have tried and found wanting over the years.

                                                                                                  Me too. I used to take dates to SLJ's (almost 2 decades ago, I guess), and honestly it was hit and miss even then, both for service and taste.

                                                                                                  I wouldn't even think of dropping in there now, I'm not famous enough, but my son and I did decide we had to take a shot at the offerings in Gelson's (CC) recently. As everyone else comments, they are astonishingly overpriced--so much so, that when we presented a slice of SLJ princess cake to the cashier, he was openly startled by the ridiculous pricing and even commented on it to another employee walking by. . (This is GELSON'S, we're talking about, now, where they don't flinch at $12 soups to go and $30/lb meats!) I sheepishly admitted it was too much, but just wanted to give the SLJ stuff a shot, and it was just one slice. He shook his head and said something like, "Well, good luck". (Just to be clear, there was nothing rude about this--we're regulars at this Gelson's, and I took his comments as a genuine expression of concern that a regular customer was being taken for a ride by a new vendor).

                                                                                                  Anyway, PayOrPlay Jr. and I took this more-valuable-than-gold bit of pastry home and excitedly divided it. We both liked it for a couple of bites, and then started to become dissatisfied with the imbalance of sugar, the excessive stickiness, the off taste in the cake. Between the two of us we didn't finish it, kept the leftovers around for a few days, and ultimately, unceremoniously, pitched it.

                                                                                                  And we LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE princess cake. Whatever some may think of Victor Benes, their version is profoundly better (and cheaper) than the prepackaged stuff in the SLJ display. For that matter, so is Ikea's.

                                                                                                  As has been mentioned elsewhere in this thread, the Olsen sisters are reported to have sunk $2M into SLJ's wholesale business (unclear if there are other investors) and maybe someone in management will figure out that there's a problem here. The retail business on Melrose will probably keep on doing just fine without all of us hoi-polloi, based on the celebrity clientele* (cf. Mr. Chow's) but it's hard to imagine the greater American public tolerating the prices and mediocrity for long.

                                                                                                  (*See http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/02/02/... (NY Times access required) for evidence that Jane & her notorious spouse are doing just fine thank you.)

                                                                                                  19 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: PayOrPlay

                                                                                                    So what was the price of your slice? You didn't write that.

                                                                                                    1. re: hazelnutty

                                                                                                      I bought a slice at Gelsons, it was about $7, HAHAHAHA

                                                                                                      1. re: running pig

                                                                                                        That is pricey...wow. Okay. What happened to economies of scale??? hehehe

                                                                                                    2. re: PayOrPlay

                                                                                                      Princess cakes - never had a bad one but my only tries have been at VB. How's Ikea's? I've heard they're pretty good...

                                                                                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                        Hi Bulav- IKEA remains a guilty pleasure of mine. I remember an old man looking at his wife and saying "dammit honey" I thought he was going to complain. He then went on to tell his wife that they would never go anywhere else for breakfast. He could not believe 99 cents could still buy breakfast :-)

                                                                                                        I am a fan of the frozen yogurt...tastes pretty darn good on a warm day and after being bumped over and over by clueless customers. But I have never had the cake.

                                                                                                        1. re: running pig

                                                                                                          Hey Running Pig. Hope all is well. We were pleasantly surprised at how decent alot of their food items were as well. We had a simple snack there and found their bottled drinks and their frozen yogurt to be a good deal too. I must have looked right past the princess cakes. Will have to give them a try the next time we feel like torturing ourselves there.

                                                                                                          The SLJ refrigerated items - I just don't see how they could offer their cakes with the same formulation that have been sitting in the fridge for - I don't know how long - and expect to have a good product. The idea at first is appealing: I get to have their reputedly great cakes and at the same time avoid the bad attitude being tossed at me with relish by SLJ and her staff...

                                                                                                        2. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                          You should try Berolina Bakery on Ocean View Blvd. in north Glendale... their prinsesstårta blows IKEA's away.

                                                                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                            I've gotten the sense that Berolina is the benchmark in the LA area for this exquisite cake. My wife and mom (and of course everyone else) truly enjoy the ones I've gotten at VB for their birthdays. And not many places offer this cake, so those that do would have to be somewhat serious and confident about their offerings. I've never tried SLJ's and probably never will given the bad taste left in my mouth from this post. My guess is the Ikea cake is alot like their furniture - not the best, but a great deal for the money. Like Running Pig mentions, Ikea is one of those guilty pleasures - we begrudgingly admit that we induldge in alot of their treats after pinballing through their store.

                                                                                                            Does Berolina offer anything else that you would recommend? Or maybe I should pose another question - I would be serious about making a run out to Glendale from the Westside on freed-up weekend given a "Das Ubergeek fill-in-the-blank and Berolina" pairing. What would be a good bookend for a visit to Berolina?

                                                                                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                              My home office is right there so I know the area well:

                                                                                                              At Berolina itself: they have these chocolate "bar" cookies with granulated sugar on top that I absolutely crave. I know that sounds stupid, but they're SO good I can eat a whole box. If you've never tried limpa bread, try it -- it's a very fragrant, soft rye bread with some unusual spices in it. Their eclairs are divine too -- I don't know why, they just are.

                                                                                                              Right next to Berolina is Schreiner's Fine Sausages, which is a German delicatessen. The sandwiches are tasty if a bit boring, but you go for the supplies -- any kind of German sausage you want, the best meat in the area since the Gelsinger's in Montrose closed and a whole wall full of German condiments and whatnot.

                                                                                                              For food itself, you've simply GOT to try La Cabanita, on Verdugo Rd right around the corner (between Ocean View and Sunview). Ignore the fact that the chips are horrible (if you get lucky and they're good that day, ask for mole sauce to dip them in) and get enchiladas with mole, quesadilla con rajas, or the dish that's secretly chiles en nogada but isn't advertised as such (you'll see it on the menu).

                                                                                                              If Mexican isn't in the cards, New Moon on Verdugo Boulevard (a different street) is a shmancy-looking Chinese place. The scallops are the things to get here.

                                                                                                              Finally, there's Divina Cucina on Verdugo Rd. just before the Verdugo Rd./Verdugo Blvd./Montrose/Honolulu intersection. If they have the lunch menu going, get the chicken-eggplant-zucchini sandwich and whatever the soup is. Their daily soups are fantastic. If it's dinner, stick with normal-sounding things and always, always get soup. Someday I'm going to go back and they'll have cream of yellow bell pepper soup and I'm going to eat four bowls of it and a glass of wine.

                                                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                Sounds like you've been doing the Berolina pairings for quite a while. I'll definitely take note of all these places you've mentioned. I love great bakeries, Mexican, Chinese, and Italian. While my exposure to German delis is almost nil, I can enjoy just about any sausage and a good meat market is like trying to find a great Chinese restaurant in the Westside...Thanks for the extensive list!

                                                                                                              2. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                Plus, you just HAVE to give an adjustment for price. Although I may not put IKEA pastry out for guests, I am pleased by $1.50 treats on a busy day, when I don't want to drive anywhere after furniture shopping :-)

                                                                                                                1. re: running pig

                                                                                                                  You have my unwavering support. Now I know I will remember to pick one up next time... And stay away from my son - he picks his nose, eats with his hands, and wouldn't be able to keep up with you... did I mention he was seven? ;-)

                                                                                                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                    HAHAHA- fair enough! Incidentally, kids love to eat at IKEA!

                                                                                                                    1. re: running pig

                                                                                                                      It's amazing how luke warm our kids were at first about going there, but by the time we're halfway through the place, they're climbing on everything and having alot of fun. As huge as they are, IKEA could teach SLJ a few things about dealing with customers. :)

                                                                                                                2. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                  You know, it never would've occurred to me to go to IKEA for their bakery. Do they have a broad selection or is it just basically some good cakes and a couple of other things.

                                                                                                                  I haven't been in so long so I guess I owe myself a couple of swedish meatballs as a guaranteed treat if nothing else pans out there...

                                                                                                                  1. re: broncosaurus

                                                                                                                    It's pretty limited bakery-wise, but they actually have some very good ice cream bombes.

                                                                                                                    1. re: broncosaurus

                                                                                                                      I knew a Swedish couple who made regular trips to IKEA in Burbank because they always carried alot of what Swedes considered to be standard items to them but were hard to find in LA. I can't tell you that they carry a market's worth of goods, but just about everything edible is just like their furniture - it may not be the best but it's great value. As you've mentioned, their meatballs are always a good bargain, and they also alot of those cookies that are prewrapped in a tube-shaped plastic wrap. I've never noticed their princess cake - I think it's frozen - so it's news to me too.

                                                                                                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                        Ikea in Burbank gets their princess from Berolina.

                                                                                                                        1. re: charmo

                                                                                                                          Do you have a source for this? Because they sell whole prinsesstarta in the frozen section at certain times of the year.

                                                                                                            2. So after reading this thread and detecting a consensus of:

                                                                                                              a) incredibly lousy service, and rude to boot

                                                                                                              b) fairly mediocre food generally

                                                                                                              I'm wondering why they have any business at all?

                                                                                                              So if you go there, why?

                                                                                                              My only experience with the place is one visit a couple of years ago, about which I only vaguely remember a bit of "eye-rolling" as mentioned by others and a cupcake that was just okay.

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: broncosaurus

                                                                                                                IMHO, SLJ does alot of things well. Their curried chicken sandwiches are great, I think their cakes are tasty - I haven't had the huge letdown that so many have, and I've mentioned at least once or twice already that just about anything with lemon is amazing. But the prices are prohibitive - I think it's 8 bucks for my favorite TINY lemon meringue tart which is one of a few things that keeps calling me back; the quality of their "famous" cakes is inconsistent, the bakery has a lousy seating setup/bad fung shui, and as mentioned by this thread, the service....

                                                                                                                The worst service I'd ever received here was indifferent - the kind where you get no response even after greeting them, where they walk away when your in the middle of asking a question about one of their many displayed cakes that have little or no description.

                                                                                                                What kills me about this place is how they can survive with a fair amount of serious competition within a mile radius of this place. The surrounding community has high expectations of service and quality. The skills and abilities of SLJ's ownership and management are questionable - they seem to border on insanity with their celebrity-driven hubris. Their product often doesn't live up to expectations. I think they're riding on borrowed time.

                                                                                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                  the one thing SLJ is good at is publicity. they always get coverage in mags like in style which then creates hype amongst the masses and the crowd blindly follows...

                                                                                                                  1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                    As others have mentioned, SLJ probably treats celebs like modern day royalty, while they drop crumbs down to the wanting masses.

                                                                                                              2. I've never been there, and after reading this thread, will never go, but here's more fodder for the fight:


                                                                                                                Apparently don't go there for a wedding cake either.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: voodoochild

                                                                                                                  Wow. Read that...unbelievable!

                                                                                                                  Only in So Cal can "these types" of businesses thrive.

                                                                                                                  Ambivalence is 'prestige' in this part of the world, which is baffling to me.

                                                                                                                2. Another body on the dogpile really doesn't seem necessary, but I'll jump on anyway. I'm no Sweet Lady Jane fan, either. The triple berry cake from there is passable - I worked at a production company where we ordered them for all the birthday parties - but it pales beside the far superior Berry Blossom from Susina. The store is shabby inside and out, and some of the other cakes are rather overly sweet, as others have mentioned. But I really have little experience. Too often when I would go in to pick up a pastry or some sweets, I'd stand at the counter and wait and wait and wait and wait... and no one would come to serve me. They were all huddled in the back or on the phone. After five minutes, I gave up. After three or four visits like this, I just stopped going in entirely. Susina is a gem - the pretty Art Nouveau arabesques, the broad selection, the ample seating, and the helpful staff. Oh, and the better food. Why anyone would go back to Sweet Lady Jane after visiting Susina is beyond me.

                                                                                                                  Sweet Lady Jane has a reputation built on its longevity - and helped along by stories of how it is allegedly haunted by the ghost of Orson Welles (the bakery is in the former site of Welles's favorite restaurant, Ma Maison) - but, over the decades, they've clearly taken to resting on their laurels. Sweet Lady Jane strikes me as a place that was once truly great but has, for many years now, made its money solely on its reputation.

                                                                                                                  On a side note, this would serve as a great cautionary lesson to Boule, which seems to be sliding down the same path. Bring back the viennoiseries, make better chocolates, and put a lid on the ridiculous prices, or risk become the new Sweet Lady Jane (in the bad sense).

                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Woolsey

                                                                                                                    I just wanna say that cookiewise, the best cookie I have had since I came to LA was at Clifton's Cafeteria and it was like, $.65. Their pie was really good, too. The best cake was from Porto's. Our wedding cake was a regular cake from Susina's and it was fine. We're in walking distance from Susina's and Glendale is someplace far away. SLJ confused me when I walked in there and I couldn't say why--it was chaotic and pricey. Maybe Orson was telling me not to bother. I recently had a awesome mini eclair from that place on Robertson that had sold us some cake that was underwhelming and I would've gone that route for the wedding if I knew how good their little pastries were, but then you can't cut a mini eclair in a celebratory fashion.

                                                                                                                    1. re: keaton

                                                                                                                      Tiers of cupcakes, miniature éclairs, etc., are the new vogue for wedding cakes these days. They're for people who want non-traditional wedding cakes or are looking for a way to make their wedding cake stand out in an original way. I don't suppose cutting them is a part of the ritual, just shoving one into your new mate's mouth in a messy fashion.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Woolsey

                                                                                                                        The chocolate and vanilla cake wedding cake prepared by Cake Divas http://www.cakedivas.com/ was the most delicious ever and my kids did lots of wedding-cake tastings, including SLJ. SLJ was at the bottom of the list Cake Divas was the clear winner. Currently, the clear winner for Strawberry short cake (far better than the SLJ berry cake) is the one made my Susie Cakes. It is simply divine and it comes with a smile--no attitude in sight
                                                                                                                        1. Wedding cake from Cake Divas
                                                                                                                        2. Cupcakes and layer cakes& strawberry shortcake from Susie Cakes
                                                                                                                        3. Cookies from Clementine
                                                                                                                        4. 3-way tie for Key Lime Pie: (L.A. Desserts--Clememtine--SusieCake

                                                                                                                        1. re: maudies5

                                                                                                                          Sweet potato cake with brown sugar cream - I don't have a wedding planned, but do you think I could fake one for a tasting with Cake Divas?

                                                                                                                          Oh, yeah - Boo, Sweet Lady Jane!

                                                                                                                  2. LA's pretty famous for having trendy, overpriced, good *looking* little shops with attitude and little substance, honestly :) This is nothing out of the ordinary - the only surprise is how well these places do :/

                                                                                                                    No one's mentioned the Belwood Bakery (in Brentwood Village):
                                                                                                                    11625 Barrington Ct
                                                                                                                    Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                                                    I've tried quite a lot of different bakeries, but this one is superb and not insanely priced ($1.50 choc croissants, $4 cake slices, and a $28 12 inch super light chocolate raspberry mousse cake that tasty, moist, not overly sweet, tangy, and decorated with raspberry sauce + raspberries on top). Try that cake if you're ever in the neighborhood, and I think you'll find that this little french bakery (run by a vietnamese family, cash only) is really great.

                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: scyfer

                                                                                                                      There's a Belwood Bakery on Ventura at the Coldwater curve in Studio City -- nice place, good stuff, zero haughtiness.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                        They are very nice there. Best brioche in the city, they also have these great walnut cinnamon twist things that are a must for any walnut fan. If you want something savory, great ham and cheese croissants.

                                                                                                                        About once every two weeks, on my route to work down Ventura goes 1) Belwood Bakery, 2) BofA ATM in same parking lot, 3) half a block down, Arco gas, then I'm on my merry way down the 101 to work.

                                                                                                                        Not sure if they are affiliated with the other Belwoods.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                          That must be the one that I used to stop at for a sweet after Carnie's! Now I head to Nata's - one of the best bakeries in S. Calif!

                                                                                                                        2. re: scyfer

                                                                                                                          I don't care for Belwood (Brentwood) pastries. They do, however, make a great tuna salad sandwich. Get it on Ciabatta. Delicious!

                                                                                                                        3. I gotta add one more thing in this never-ending SLJ bash, and that is: the place is never clean. Unless some miracle has taken place in the last couple of weeks, the place is always filthy. Just look in the front case and you'll see a ton of crumbs and lordy only knows what else polluting the bottom of the case. Last time we were there, it looked like the case was rusting and paint was chipping off. It's just unappetizing to look into a display case of sweets and see all that filth. The rest of the place doesn't seem that much better. At $7 a slice, there's no excuse for the place being that dirty.

                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Faulkner99

                                                                                                                            It's like SLJ is the Cynthia's of bakeries!

                                                                                                                            Although I think Cynthia left...didn't she?

                                                                                                                            1. re: LuluBleu

                                                                                                                              Computer says yes. She's gone, at least that's the rumor flying around. Now I will go. Refused to go before. If she isn't gone, she's sedated and tied up in the back.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Muhlyssa

                                                                                                                                relatively new to LA and was underwhelmed by SLJ - inspite of too many favorable recommendations. Everything at Boule is prepared with care and top-shelf ingredients- even if at times it is a bit precious - I haven't been dissappinted yet.

                                                                                                                                1. re: whycook

                                                                                                                                  Thank you for the tip. I'm going to go there tomorrow for a morning pastry and coffee. I had no idea that Boule even existed. I'd tried the vegetarian restaurant next to it but it is horrible, dirty, unkempt and the food doesn't taste that good to me.

                                                                                                                          2. Wow there have been some real horror stories, I guess I might as well add my one trip there.

                                                                                                                            So we decided to try a fun new bakery place since the SO had a free diet day. Of course parking sucks in WLA, and the place is miniscule. So the place is packed and tiny, we can barely move around. Sometimes you gotta deal with space constraints but here was the kicker. We were trying to look at the display case, but in our way is what could only be miss jane. She was sitting smack in the middle of the aisle in front of the case blocking all traffic and carrying on a conversation with a customer. So we try to get by with an 'excuse me'.. no response. After a slightly more forceful excuse me, she turns around and glares at us!

                                                                                                                            When we were helped the person was nice enough... maybe a little too energetic. Oh and we wanted 1 dessert to eat there and 1 dessert to go. But we couldnt do that, no double ordering..?? We were gonna get the thing to go and just sit down and eat it out of the box, but by that time it was a bit claustrophobic and I was glad to get out.

                                                                                                                            The stuff was good, very sweet.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: trojandude

                                                                                                                              So they would rather stick by their nonsensical principle of "no double ordering" (whatever that is) than sell twice as much as they originally would have. How has this place stayed in business so long?

                                                                                                                            2. Does anybody remember the old Red Fox bar on 8th street downtown? They had a sign stating that the most important person in any business is the customer. "Don't believe it? Try getting along without him for a while".

                                                                                                                              If the service at SLJ is as bad as all that her customers must be a crew of masochists.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: Akitist

                                                                                                                                Or a bunch of wooden-palate trendoids who are used to being treated rudely, because they don't care about food or service, only who else is eating there.

                                                                                                                              2. This thread is so long, I'm going to go to Sweet Lady Jane just to see how rude they'll be to me.

                                                                                                                                It'll be like buying a cake from an insult comic or that soup guy from Jerry Seinfeld.

                                                                                                                                I don't even eat cupcakes ... do they have pie?

                                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: PaulF

                                                                                                                                  Lemon meringue tarts are great if you enjoy lemony things... but it's like 8 bucks for a little one... maybe the insults are included in the price...

                                                                                                                                  1. re: PaulF

                                                                                                                                    LA's own cake Nazi. Somehow places like this seem to survive in disconnected communities without any sense of coherence or pride. No network provides the necessary feedback to shame the behavior out of existence. This type of community also, however, also allows nonconforming creativity to bloom.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Griller141

                                                                                                                                      Intelligent observation of the social attributes of a metropolis. On-the-one-hand there are enough customers to support the eccentric / creative chef while on-the-other-hand there are also enough customers to tolerate great cookies under any conditions. Perhaps the pride within the metropolis is in the fact that food comes first and maybe that is how it should be. Really, on this Board, would we rather live in a metropolis where everyone is sweet or where the food is sweet?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JeetJet

                                                                                                                                        Well, if the cakes and cookies were OUTSTANDING, maybe a quirky baker would be fine.

                                                                                                                                        But SWJ is rude, mean, and has bad business practices. It goes far beyond eccentric, and it has never been creative.

                                                                                                                                        Their food is also not all that great.

                                                                                                                                        Try any other bakery, Cake Divas, Hansen's, Edie, Helena Wirth, and more-for better wedding cakes with service to bakc it up.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Diana

                                                                                                                                          The contrast between the experiences of so many people and the press this place gets is either incredible or interesting or something like that.

                                                                                                                                          The magazines and the guides and even the television shows love this place.

                                                                                                                                          The bakery's web site lists a number of celebrities who have had their wedding cakes baked there. Maybe not so important -- celebrities don't know more about food than non-celebrities -- but it is still interesting that those who can afford to go anywhere choose this place.

                                                                                                                                          I'm beginning to suspect that there is a two-tiered services system in place. No doubt when Jennifer Lopez went in for her cake, she got the royal treatment.

                                                                                                                                          Reading this thread and some of the links makes me think that Jane just doesn't care about service to regular folks. There are too many people having a crappy time in her store for her not to know.

                                                                                                                                          She just doesn't care.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: PaulF

                                                                                                                                            I'm guessing SLJ has a good publicist. I would never put stock in a celebrity endorsement. Among other things, celebrities rarely pay for anything.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: PaulF

                                                                                                                                              Jane schmoozes the Media. I can see her puckering up and kissing the cheeks of any magazine, guide, television, or radio person.

                                                                                                                                              There's a story she wrote for the compilation "Don't Try This At Home" about a cake catastrophe. AS I read it, I wished her many more.

                                                                                                                                              I am sick of her bad attitude to everyday customers. We should be the ones she is schmoozing.

                                                                                                                                              She knows, she doesn't care, cause she's even got Evan Klineman of "Good Food" fooled.

                                                                                                                                              And I thought Even knew better.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Diana

                                                                                                                                              I've tasted SLJ cakes from long ago and was just not that impressed with the flavor. When we were getting married, I never even considered them. We got our wedding cakes from Michel Ricard on Robertson at Third. They were fantastic and the cakes were delicous and totally fresh--made that morning.

                                                                                                                                              The service at Michel Ricard can be a bit brisk but not rude. I just don't get going to someplace like SLJ with the sort of treatment described here. There's quirky and then theres.......

                                                                                                                                      2. I was there 25 years ago to order an anniversay cake for a surprise party for my parents. The cake was for over 50 peple, I asked if they could deliver it, they were so rude, the answer was no, but I could not believe how rude they were. I'd rather have Duncan Hines from a box than give them $1 of my money!

                                                                                                                                        1. dude, there are so many replies to this post i couldn't read through it all.


                                                                                                                                          i've been to slj once and it just didn't do it for me. didn't like the atmosphere and didn't like the cake either. don't remember anything about the service tho...

                                                                                                                                          p.s. hi gg!

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. This is becoming an only in LA story, I think. I've been reading this post on and off since April--don't need to add to the list, but suffice to say I agree with it. Susina is the place to go, service-wise and cake-wise. Nearby MILK is fun. Always Beverly over Melrose! But only in LA: I sensed this the first time I walked in to SLJ. Nothing was really THAT good. It was part of a certain unique economy: too few competitors, too much money getting thrown around without accountability or cares, too much cultural amnesia -- even a bakery can benefit from this in LA it seems. I encountered this a lot in my first months in this city, just couldn't believe that such businesses could exist, but here they do. Then you find the other only in LA: the wonderful places that don't exploit the weird economy of this metropolis but the wonders of the same, the mix of people, histories, and foods. And ultimately the wonder of this specific economy has nothing to do with economy. It is people and their mix. SLJ is about money and LA money at that. No good. Don't go people. The thing is: the LA "economy" is changing, fast. Competitors are growing and arriving. Old establishiments like SLJ that have a now long tradition of not giving a s... won't be around for long I think in the new LA. When I first moved to LA, it seemed one HAD to go to SLJ for a bakery if one was living in Weho. No longer. And thus I never do go to SLJ anymore, ever. Welcome to the new LA.

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                                                                                                                                            1. re: George

                                                                                                                                              The message in your post reminds me of an old song by Bob Dylan only about food, tude, and be'n rude.

                                                                                                                                              Listen-up Sweet Lady Jane
                                                                                                                                              Down on your Melrose home
                                                                                                                                              The number of bakers
                                                                                                                                              Over on Beverly have grown
                                                                                                                                              They are taking your customers
                                                                                                                                              Your rudeness will strip you to the bone.
                                                                                                                                              If your name to you
                                                                                                                                              Is worth savin'
                                                                                                                                              Then you better start live’n up to it
                                                                                                                                              Or you'll sink like one of your scones
                                                                                                                                              For the times they are a-changin'.

                                                                                                                                              Food critics and Chowhounds
                                                                                                                                              Who prophesize with your pen
                                                                                                                                              Keep your mouths open wide
                                                                                                                                              For this chance may not come again
                                                                                                                                              And don't bite too soon
                                                                                                                                              For the rolling pen is still a-spin
                                                                                                                                              And there's no tellin' now
                                                                                                                                              who will soon be a-bake'n
                                                                                                                                              For the loser now
                                                                                                                                              Will be later to win
                                                                                                                                              For the times they are a-changin'.

                                                                                                                                            2. Alright, having eaten a bowl of English trifle at Sweet Lady Jane just last night, I feel that I must put in my two cents. I have had many kinds of experiences at SLJ, from the good, to the bad and to the ugly.

                                                                                                                                              Last night was very very different. I finally got a chance to chat to both Jane and her husband and they were actually surprisingly really lovely, (and no, they had no reason to shmooze me, I am not at all even close to being a celebrity). I realize now that my negative impression of them from the past was probably due to the fact that they are always frazzled and overworked. The husband was super chatty and quite funny. He is British and quite a character.

                                                                                                                                              They left and I stayed a while. As I was leaving the man that was serving me handed me, for free, a bag of shortbread cookies. All he said was, I thought you might enjoy these...wow, what a different experience.

                                                                                                                                              I do love Susina though and agree that the vibe there is always always laid back and friendly. If you ever get a chance try their tiny little round cookies with the single Italian cherry inside. Everyone that I have ever bought them for as a gift has become obsessed with them and becomes a Susina regular. Also, a must at Susina: get a tarot card reading from Jenna the owner's aunt Jackie. She is a phenomally accurate card reader and a really lovely person.

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                                                                                                                                              1. re: intheknow

                                                                                                                                                I'm no kind of celebrity either. That said, my (multiple) experiences at SLJ's have been very similar to intheknow's. Yes, the counter staff can be brusque but they're hauling ass to serve a clientele that never stops and (unless they escaped prosecution at Nuremberg) don't deserve the vitriol directed towards them. Yes, the place is packed and I guess sometimes the goods may not be up to everyone's expectations but I've LOVED their goods.

                                                                                                                                                I've tried muffins, scones, cookies, cakes (triple-berry cake!? YUM!) pies (I'd kill for another slice of her Strawberry-Rhubarb!) and sandwiches. Never been disappointed although I wouldn't mind paying a bit less for them.

                                                                                                                                                I've also had the opportunity of chatting with Jane on several occasions and found her personable, knowledgeable and interesting. I've orderd at least half a dozen birthday cakes over the years and never been disappointed. I gave my assistant a wedding cake from SLJ's that was the hit of the event. I ordered 2 large birthday cakes in December for my wife and they were exactly as expected, beautiful, delicious and very satisfying to nearly 70 guests.

                                                                                                                                                It's surprising to see how many people are on the "bash-Sweet-Lady-Jane's" bandwagon when my experiences have never come close. Guess it's akin to that parable about the 10 Blind Men and the Elephant. It's all about your POV.

                                                                                                                                                I'll go back, especially for those "after-8pm-clear-out-the-baked-good-bins" deals and another slice of the Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie. But like I said, that's just me.

                                                                                                                                                1. That's interesting. I've been going about 4-5 years now, and I love it! My friends and I usually have a good time talking and fooling around with the waiters/waitresses. I've only had one bad experience...a rude waitress. That was it. Otherwise, I love it there.

                                                                                                                                                  The dulce de leche is my favorite. I've ordered cakes for events several times. I'm there maybe 3-4 times a month. I find that there cakes are best when they have the chance to get to room temperature.

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodientraining

                                                                                                                                                    Hi, nice to hear I'm not the only one that hasn't had the awful experiences of most posters. I fell in love with the triple berry about 10 years ago. They made my husband's 40th b-day cake (a wonderful Halloween chocolate cake), my son's 1st b-day cake (it was still being decorated when I arrived, & they were so apologetic & nice; offering me coffee & treats). I am NOT a celebrity, just an average person, but they've always been very nice.

                                                                                                                                                  2. I had to add my two cents. My Italian rum wedding cake, which was really small -- it served about 20 people -- was made by SLJ in 2003. It was delicious, enough so that I've ordered a small version every year since for our anniversary. I'm not a regular there, and I didn't get special treatment, just professionally brisk. Then again, I haven't been asking for anything especially outre.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Wow-

                                                                                                                                                      I've been going there for nearly 20 years and I've never been treated badly- the service has never been exactly exemplary, but I think that's because the place is always packed and there just isn't room for the extra servers they would need to get the goods out. I always liked the coconut cake, which I usually ask for with a rose on it- as a matter of fact the last time I was there they had sold all of the parts with the flowers on it and the counterman went in the back and made me one! I also love their chocolate taco things with the mousse filling and their cheesecakes. But the place does fill up to the point of gridlock, and I try not to be there at those times. They really need to expand.

                                                                                                                                                      Susina is wonderful: their banana cream pie is something I'd like to be buried in. (seems fair, since I am sure it will bury me!). They also have wonderful panini, and the owner is very nice.

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                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tmp00

                                                                                                                                                        Indeed, what a thread!!! I can't even begin to read it all. I went there soon after they had first opened, I think -- could it really be 20 years ago? I think it was a little less than that; no matter -- a long while ago. Their service wasn't great then but not so overtly RUDE. It is a long drive for me to get there but eventually I stopped making the trek because the mental abuse was in no way worth it. Then this morning for a special occasion I thought maybe I'd relent...seems the trajectory has strayed not an inch and if the payoff wasn't worth it 5 years ago, it certainly can't be now! Thanks CH for the enlightening rants. What an incredibly terrific resource.

                                                                                                                                                        tmp00 -- as a long-time regular it makes sense, reading this thread, that you might not have experienced the same nonsense as others. As a long-time very sporadic visitor, I have that similar long perspective but with absolutely zero mitigating experiences! They were flat-out mean each and every time, over a period of well-nigh *gasp* twenty years (For me though I think it was closer to 15).

                                                                                                                                                        I guess I'll check out Susina instead. Do they have decent lunch too?

                                                                                                                                                      2. Damn those ppl over there at SLJ are like the soup Nazis on Seinfield. My cake was dry and very chilled and the icing was hard terrible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO CAKE FOR YOU!! LOL!!!

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                                                                                                                                                        1. re: skoop323

                                                                                                                                                          Givent the Jeckyl & Hyde nature of their cakes (I'm guessing it was their Three Berry cream cake or one of the others they sell at Gelson's?), I'm suspecting they might be recycling their cakes returned from the grocery store? I've always gotten cakes by the slice there (but no more) and never had an issue with dry cake or hard icing/frosting. I really miss some of their stuff, but given the eccentric nature of the owners and staff, SLJ just ain't happening for me anymore...

                                                                                                                                                        2. my wife and i hate eating at SLJ. now after reading this thread, we must have had some kind of divine intervention in our dealings with them. we only place our orders over the phone and always get the triple layer berry cake. we pick it up, pay and get out. whenever we break out the cake, there are never any leftovers and usually 2 to 3 people ask where we got it. with such an experience, we decided to get our wedding cake there. they gave us a steal of a deal and asked if we wanted delivery and set up for about $75 more. after the wedding, people raved about our cake [which was an augmented triple layer berry cake with white chocolate fillings and trimmings and a buttercream icing. in hinds sight, we spent under $600 for everything. we thought it was pretty good for our tight budget.

                                                                                                                                                          did i mention we will never eat there again? ever.

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                                                                                                                                                          1. re: killingmesoftserve

                                                                                                                                                            I've been on a cheesecake kick and I've been dropping in frequently (I live around the corner). Still haven't had bad service in my two dozen visits. Granted, I'm not eating in. That said, this is my favorite thread on chowhound. It's fascinating.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: killingmesoftserve

                                                                                                                                                              So funny! I think it's amusing how this topic never dies. Honestly, don't they read this board? How can they possibly not care? How hard is it to hire someone who smiles once in a while? This is a city of actors...

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: aliris

                                                                                                                                                                Obviously none of their employees are writing a screenplay, because the #1 rule in Los Angeles is to be nice to EVERYBODY no matter how much you have to grind your teeth, because you don't know who's going to 'discover' you.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe they are writing screenplays. Writers don't get discovered while working at restaurants, that's purely for model/actress/wannabes.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sloanedone

                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, but when you have to go pitch your screenplay...

                                                                                                                                                                    In any case, they're clearly too cool for the industry.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Did the ownership or staff change recently (last year or so)?

                                                                                                                                                              In years gone by, I've had some fantastic cakes from SLJ, but this past year, I had the famed triple berry for a birthday and it was awful - crumbly, dry, frosting overwhipped and oversweetened. Despite my greed, I didn't finish my slice, and neither did anyone else at the party.

                                                                                                                                                              I went into the shop this weekend and the cakes had that similar look, that day-old bakery look. Tired frosting, sloppy doughy-looking pastries, goopy pies. And all this at premium prices.

                                                                                                                                                              I was starving, and yet nothing enticed my gurgling stomach. I actually chose to go to Starbucks over SLJ. What happened?

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mungus

                                                                                                                                                                I think a big problem with SLJ is that they dont have a menu so the staff has to constantly say what cakes they have for the day and im sure that must get annoying. I went there once and the staff seemed rude with alot of attitude. I was with friends who wanted to try the lemon cake. Otherwise I would have walked out of that place.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mungus

                                                                                                                                                                  We got our wedding cake in 2005... maybe it did.

                                                                                                                                                                2. i've actually seen the owner yell and reprimand staff in front of customers, on several occasions, so this news does not surprise me at all. Conversely, my friend says they makes the best Cherry Pie on earth, so we'll be sweet and maybe "Jane" will follow suit... has she used up all her sugar in her pastries, I wonder?

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Cooper100

                                                                                                                                                                    I an MAD for the cherry pie! I actually have always thought that her pies were far superior to her cakes. I'm also quite fond of the lemon meringue pie

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I've been going there for over 10 years and I still get treated badly on many occasions but my family and friends are hooked on the Triple Berry Cake for their birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, etc. I lovingly call it Witch Lady Jane (replace the W with a B if you're more upset).

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ExtraCheesePlease

                                                                                                                                                                      I have been on an oreo cheesecake tear and hav been in there 3 times a week and still haven't seen the horror show. This is my favorite thread on here, but I am starting to believe (after a dozen visits in the last couple months) that their bark is worse than their bite. I ain't goin' anywhere else.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sloanedone

                                                                                                                                                                        It's good to hear that your experiences with their service thus far have been relatively amenable... Maybe you are the first to report a possible change in the tide... I'm sure we'd all appreciate regular updates... thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                                                                          Well, nothing has changed. Had a terrible experience there today- was treated so rudely I was stunned! I will never go back.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Part of the true LA experience, I guess.

                                                                                                                                                                      Great weather, packed freeways, earthquakes, celebrities and getting treated like shit at SLJ

                                                                                                                                                                      You're not a real Angelino unless you've experienced all that!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Well, I haven't read all 171 posts, but it seems pretty clear that I am not the only person who feels this bakery is resting on its laurels. It is way over priced, and the cakes, quite simply, aren't that good.

                                                                                                                                                                        What bothers me more than the bad service, is the fact that the place hasn't been renovated in many, many years. A friend dragged me a few weeks ago, and I was appalled at how dingy the front room is. They certainly aren't pouring the profits back into infrastructure, that is for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                        I agree that Susina is a great place...the people are always friendly, and I have had some very nice cakes from there. When I need a cake for the office though, and don't want to spend a fortune, I go to Victor Benes...always reliable and very good for mass consumption.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I agree, I have to SLJ and have had the same issue with customer service. In fact, I felt so ignored the first time I went in, that i just walked out. It took me a couple years to get over it and go in and try. I was so disappointed, it was just horrible. FAST TIP: A women who used to work at the SLJ bakery has since left and opened her own baker in Manhattan Beach/El Segundo area called Lido Bakery. Better service and cakes i great. They serve a princess cake there also, and is great.

                                                                                                                                                                          Lido Bakery
                                                                                                                                                                          3001 N Sepulveda Blvd, D Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Had the same experience, miserable employees. And they screwed up my cake big times

                                                                                                                                                                            Sweet Lady Jane Bakery
                                                                                                                                                                            8360 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                                                                                                            1. This thread is over two years old and yet, SLJ is still there and people are still making the same complaints....I wonder how many nice little bakeries went out of business in the last two years because SLJ has some mysterious cachet that draws in customers, even with dry cake and grumpy service?

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jenn

                                                                                                                                                                                Anyone who puts up with SLJ's service more than once deserves what they get. I work half a block from Porto's, which is the best revenge.