A little over a year ago, pastry chef Rebecca Powazek and baker Jenna Legge announced that they would open an ambitious bakeshop in Southwest Portland in the spring of 2020. It would serve layer nine-layer bars, breakfast sandwiches on Portuguese bolo levedo, and slices of toffee carrot cake. A year later, Powazek and Legge split, with the latter holding on to the SW Dakota Street space.
Powazek, known for her virtual bakery and former food cart Bee’s Custom Cakes, was unsure of what to do next; sharing a tiny bake space with an ex-business partner wasn’t going well. With a stroke of bittersweet luck, she went to pick up a loaf of bread from Roseway’s Heim Bakery, and discovered Jennifer Plitzko was leaving the space. Soon, Powazek will take over the soon-to-close Heim Bakery to open Bee’s Cakes and Cafe, serving breakfast pastries, croissants, and slices of her famous cakes. “Honestly everything fell into place, after a really rough five months of not knowing where my business was going to go,” she says. “It’s nice to be able to have a home that is ours.”
Powazek is a longstanding Portland pastry chef; for years, she has made pastries for the Multnomah Whiskey Library, first as an in-house pastry chef, and later as a wholesale baker. She supplies pastries like creme brûlée mascarpone cheesecake bars and spumoni cookies to various cafes and restaurants around town, from Southwest Portland’s Phat Cart to Southeast Asian coffee shop Kopi. At Bee’s Cakes and Cafe, she plans to keep a few of her greatest hits in the case, including cakes like the pineapple-coconut carrot cake filled with cream cheese frosting and toffee chips, and the orange poppyseed cake with orange buttercream and orange curd. But Powazek is adamant about keeping her menu loose, with a rotating slate of croissants, bars, cookies, and breakfast pastries. For example, she’s currently been making brioche buns inspired by everything bagels, filled with scallion cream cheese; she’s also confident cardamom rolls and cinnamon rolls will make a regular appearance at the shop.
Once the rise of COVID-19 cases slows down, Powazek hopes to open her cafe for onsite brunch, with breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos, and yogurt bowls, as well as espresso made with Kafiex Roasters coffee and chai from One Stripe Chai. Until then, Powazek wants to open for pre-ordered pickups, while she slowly renovates and repairs the space. Heim will close at the end of May; Powazek hopes to open Bee’s Cakes and Cafe in some capacity by the end of June.