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ND Cake Service surprises students with sweet deliveries

| Wednesday, October 13, 2021

When students hear a knock on their dorm door, the last thing they expect is a personal cake hand-delivered by a fellow Notre Dame student.

Hidden away in the basement of LaFortune Student Center, ND Cake Service allows parents and loved ones to order a cake to be delivered to a Notre Dame student for any occasion — whether for a birthday or just as a reminder that someone is thinking of them.

Ellie Rey, a sophomore employee for ND Cake Service, works on the front lines, driving around in a cart filled with cakes and balloons that will soon surprise unsuspecting students.

“I love seeing the surprise on people’s faces when they receive cakes,” Rey said in an email. “For most of them, they don’t expect it to come and are delighted when they know someone they love is thinking about them.”

Rey began the job this August, and she has already seen some interesting things in just a few months: people answering the door in towels or thinking she’s the recipient’s girlfriend instead of a student employee.

Awkward encounters aside, Rey enjoys her shifts.

“Most people are surprised, a little confused, to see me, but it turns into joy when they see what sweets they’re getting,” she said. 

Kimberly Miller, the Student Activities Service Coordinator who has helped University students run the sweet business for about a decade, enjoys the job because of the connections it creates.

“I absolutely love working with the students, but the best part of [the] Cake Service is helping parents connect in some way with their students,” Miller said in an email. 

Each delivery comes with a card and a private message, and parents can send cakes, brownies or cookies for all sorts of occasions — from birthdays to studying pick-me-ups, Miller said.

In her years working with ND Cake Service, Miller fondly remembers making celebrity deliveries to Fr. Ted Hesburgh in partnership with Irish Gardens, another student business.

Dan Gentile, a Notre Dame alumnus and the 1948 class secretary, called every year to send cookies, flowers, a thank-you note and a vintage Notre Dame religious bulletin to Fr. Hesburgh, Miller said.

Miller said she doesn’t know how long ND Cake Service has been in business, but customer stories suggest that two students started operating the service out of their dorm room, and deliveries likely date back to the 1960s, she said. 

The business is still student-run, and employees like Rey enjoy the job, which involves carting around cakes for delivery and manning the phone to take orders.

Miller said, “One of the student employees told me, ‘Working for ND Cake Service is delivering happiness every day.’” 

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