Claire's Crunch Cake
Updated: Jul 23, 2021
Given that Downtown San Mateo is in close proximity to our school and home, we felt that it was time to discover new treats elsewhere. Rather than going to our typical eateries Downtown, we decided to venture a few miles away, into a completely new neighborhood. It all started when we were searching Yelp, one of our favorite apps to discover delicious new restaurants. After falling into the deep rabbit hole of the app, we eventually discovered Claire’s Crunch Cake! We were initially drawn in by her coconut cake, both of our dads’ favorite dessert. Not to mention, the reviews were excellent; five stars and 100 reviews, all of which commended the owner Claire for her excellent service and friendly demeanor. Noticing that she did not have a website of her own, we decided to give her a call to propose our services to her. After our quick pitch, Claire was ecstatic, mentioning how she had been looking for a service like this for years. From there, we scheduled a meeting with her to try her delightful cakes as well as proceed in the process of creating her website.
When we first met Claire our sophomore year, we had only had our permits for a short amount of time, and ended up Ubering to her bakery. As we were dropped off, to our surprise, we were far from any shopping center or downtown area. Instead, we found ourselves in the middle of a street full of normal houses. We quickly realized that unlike any of our other projects, Claire had been running her business directly from her home. As she opened the door, we were immediately welcomed with open arms and the warmest of introductions. Claire quickly led us to her kitchen, small in quaint, where the aroma of butter and sugar immediately raided our noses. When we had begun to take our pictures we quickly ran a problem; Claire’s counter was dark, which offset the warm and cozy ambiance we had wanted to emulate. Having brought little supplies of our own, we had to improvise and settled on using one of Claire’s bed sheets in order to create a white backdrop. Despite it being our first physical interaction with her, Claire was not at all shy in sharing her life experiences with us. Turns out, Claire, 83, was born and raised in San Mateo. To describe her life as fascinating and upbeat would be an understatement. We learned that within her years living in this small city, Claire’s impact on the community is unfounded.
At a young age, Claire had made her mark in the radio industry, where she was one of the only African American Women. In addition, Claire has been committed to advocating political and social change in her community by delivering speeches, writing, and most notably, serving as one of San Mateo’s mayors. If we thought that was already a lot, we soon learned that Claire was a published author, having written two books about two women vigilantes creating justice. If there was one word to describe Claire, it would be passionate. This was certainly displayed in her cakes. As we observed, we watched her craft each cake with generous coats of frosting, toppings, and love. In spite of her lengthy list of accomplishments, Claire had expressed her many grievances regarding the internet, something she had never learned. In fact, Claire explained to us how despite her having the newest iPhone her daughter had bought, even the phone call function was difficult to navigate. In contrast to Claire, we were born into technology, making many functions seem easily accessible and useful. However, in learning Claire’s experiences, we realized that technology actually serves as a barrier to many. Today, as we live through the current covid-19 pandemic, many restaurants have been stripped from their ability to bring in customers. That being said, the internet has become an integral part in keeping these local businesses afloat. Technology helps us connect with and discover these businesses.
During the Black Lives Matter movement, technology has served as a large platform to share, teach, and connect people from one another. During June of 2020, as support for small African-American businesses were promoted through the internet, Claire’s Crunch Cake made its way on many local Bay Area news articles and social media accounts such as the San Francisco Chronicle. To our surprise, Claire ran the only black-owned restaurant in the city of San Mateo. As these articles exploded via Facebook and Instagram, so did Claire’s business. In reaching out to Claire, we learned that in her many years of business, this had been her highest demand for cakes by miles.
As we met up with Claire to help her build cake boxes, something we would never have expected to do, we immediately noticed that her quaint kitchen had transformed into a sweatshop; with an exceedingly high demand for her cakes, herself was not enough to keep up with the rapid orders. Instead, she had three of her grandchildren helping her frost and bake her delicious cakes. In the short period of time we were with her, cars continued to flood in, picking up and ordering. Not to mention, her three ordering home phones had not stopped ringing. Overall, constructing Claire’s website was a wonderful and exciting challenge to tackle. Not only did we gain a better insight on what goes into a business, but we also the necessity of technology in today’s changing world.