San Rafael’s Place for Cake Creativity
The popular San Rafael store gears up for its biggest season.
Business partners Maria Smithey, Kathy Collins and Kathy’s daughter, Gina, manage the store and operations.
CLAIM TO FAME
The shop produces hundreds of pre-made gingerbread houses, complete with royal icing and decorations, and hosts insanely popular house decorating classes.
Maria Kopfer and her daughter opened the shop in Corte Madera in 1963 before moving it to the Miracle Mile in San Rafael. Elaine Foster bought the business in 1990 and relocated it to its current spot on Fifth Street in San Rafael in 1994. Kathy Collins stepped in to purchase the business in 1998, and Martha Smithey partnered with Collins in 2011. The business is on the ground floor of a building owned by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization, who meet upstairs.
Everything you need to succeed at baking cakes and cookies is here, plus candy-making supplies, cake toppers, seasonal decorations and candies. You can also take classes to learn how to bake and craft. CakeArt can print custom images on edible sugar sheets with edible ink.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL
It is a family-run business. Kathy specializes in fondant and cookies, while Maria leans into cakes and chocolates. In the fall, the shop holds classes at a massive baking table, where baking students learn to make sugar skulls and cakes topped with incredible, 100 percent edible sculptures like giant spider-webs and fondant pumpkins and skulls. Smithey’s gingerbread classes sell out months in advance, and families come back year after year to create a home spun from sugar. “The whole shop is covered in gingerbread” during the class, Smithey says. Foster, now in her 80s, still makes appearances on the sales floor. “People come in just to see Elaine,” Smithey says. “They remember taking classes with her.” 415.456.7773