Gold Leaf Bakery owner Somadas Weerasinghe says he had been looking for a retail location in southern Montgomery County for nearly five years before securing the ground-floor space at the Bainbridge Bethesda apartment building where his new bakery will open Saturday.
For the past decade, Weerasinghe, a Sri Lankan native who lives in Rockville, baked cakes, pastries and pies at Just Chocolate Palace, a bakery he owned in a strip mall off of Montgomery Village Avenue that closed last year.
Weerasinghe says that business did well enough to support him and his family and grow his reputation as a baker in the county, but he said customers would often complain his prices were too high—a problem he attributed to the high-quality ingredients he uses to make his products.
He said he’s hoping customers in the Bethesda area, with its wealthier demographic, will be attracted to his cakes, which he says are made without any artificial flavors or ingredients.
At the 1,200-square-foot space on St. Elmo Avenue, Weerasinghe plans to bake a mix of wedding, birthday and other celebratory cakes, pastries, breakfast items such as croissants and a variety of pies. The bakery will also offer cappuccino and espresso. He said one of his customers’ favorites is his chocolate mousse cake.
Since closing Just Chocolate Palace last May—he declined to renew the lease—Weerasinghe said his former customers have been trying to track him down. He related a story about his recent visit to his neighborhood bank, where the teller asked him where she can get his cakes.
“Everywhere I go, people ask me, ‘Did you open another bakery?’ ” Weerasinghe said.
He said he learned to bake at a pastry school in Sri Lanka and then worked at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C., before opening Just Chocolate Palace.
Gold Leaf Bakery opens at 10 a.m. Saturday at 4918 St. Elmo Ave. in Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle.