I still remember the rainy Sunday when Michael and I discovered Cups and Cakes for the first time.
It’s kind of a magical place.
We had been living in Red Bank for about a month, and we had noticed during that time that we hadn’t really found our local “hang” – the kind of place where we could grab coffee, a quick bite, and sufficiently robust internet to take a casual business meeting for a field trip. There’s the Starbucks, sure, but – even though I’m an eternal fan of the clover machine – the atmosphere isn’t quite right for focused work.
Then, one day, we stumbled upon Cups and Cakes, nestled into the row of shops on East River Road in Rumson, and we knew we had found our place.
From juices to quiches to coffee to pastry to bespoke cake creations, the cozy Cups and Cakes cafe strikes a nice balance between healthy choices and fun little treats – and also offers a row of self-serve coffee varieties that will satisfy any caffeine addiction!
To our great delight (because Michael is a celiac), Cups and Cakes also goes above and beyond with their gluten-free offerings. They offer power bars, protein cookies, scones, cakes, and English muffins that help gluten-free foodies enjoy a plethora of choices. Plus, in addition to their regular line of custom-made cakes for all occasions, they offer gluten-free custom cakes as well!
We were sold. Where else could we nibble on a gluten-free scone and help ourselves to a coffee called the “Twin Lights Fog Blaster”?
I understood the love and creativity that goes into every Cups and Cakes product even better once I sat down with “Head Cupcake” Denise Kelleher, the owner!
A Cafe Built on Love
10 years ago, Denise worked in the world of Manhattan fashion, commuting into the city daily for her high-powered position in buying and merchandising.
But her world was upended when her husband, Bob, unexpectedly passed away. Overnight, she had to recalibrate her new life in the wake of the tragedy, stepping away from her job and starting a position as a teacher’s aide at her son’s school in Rumson.
However, this position didn’t last long, as Denise began to sell homemade baked goods on the side, and this self-taught side hustle quickly evolved into a full-time enterprise.
Two locations later, Denise – with the warm support and love of her family and Rumson community – has expanded Cups and Cakes beyond baked goods to also include a full menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as a separate juice bar on location.
You can feel this warmth when you walk into the cafe – it’s more than just good food and coffee. Menu items are named after family and friends (like “Patrick’s Protein Cookie,” or “Patty’s Power Salad”), and pictures of loved ones adorn the walls.
What Cups and Cakes Gets Right
My favorite thing about Cups and Cakes – which won’t surprise you if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time – is that sharp distinctions aren’t drawn between “healthy” and “unhealthy.”
It’s all just good food, and the key is that you have choices. Whether you want to eat on the lighter side with a creamy avocado toast, or – like me – break into a fluffy gluten-free chocolate chip scone, you can have a delicious meal or snack without having to label it.
As Denise pointed out, this means that it’s easy for families to visit, because both kids and adults can exercise choice and have a treat. For moms who want to break the habit of grazing on kid food, it can be extremely helpful to have a choice like the protein cookie or smoothie available to support health goals and fuel up a busy afternoon.
If you’re ready to feel the love that is tangible within the walls of this charming cafe, visit at 122 E. River Rd. in Rumson.