King Cake Hub is back this year at Zony Mash Beer Project and will kick off the Carnival season season with a party and pageant.
The seasonal pop-up is a one-stop shop for king cakes. Local bakeries send a daily supply, so that lovers of the Carnival confection, or anyone buying a king cake for their workplace, have myriad fresh choices in one place.
King Cake Hub was founded in 2019 by Will and Jennifer Samuels. The couple got their first taste of the king cake business with their own king cake at their gelato shop La Dolce NOLA on Metairie Road in 2011.
When Will died of esophageal cancer in September 2021, Jennifer knew she would continue King Cake Hub, as it was such an important part of the couple’s life together.
The Samuels kept selling king cakes after La Dolce NOLA closed, at first out of their restaurant, Pizza NOLA. They went on to share space with Artz Bagels on Magazine Street. They found success there but were forced to move on to “Plan C” when Artz Bagels filed for bankruptcy.
Will Samuels had an idea to sell king cakes from multiple bakeries all in one place. So the Samuels made a list of all the king cakes they wanted to include, a list that has grown every year since.
The first incarnation opened at The Mortuary, on Canal Street near the cemeteries, at the site of the seasonal haunted house.
When the owners of The Mortuary decided they wanted to try to host a Christmas-themed haunted house, King Cake Hub relocated to The Broad Theater. The Hub operated here in 2021 while the theater was forced to shut down due to Covid restrictions.
As Covid restrictions were lifted in 2022, Jennifer began searching for a place big enough to hold the king cakes and the crowd looking for them. So, she reached out to the owners of the Zony Mash brewery hoping she could set up shop in the taproom.
The owners did one better and let her use the space next to the taproom that faces Broad Street. With plenty of space, light and, most importantly, parking.
King Cake Hub 2022 was a success, featuring more than 60 different king cakes from various local bakeries, including Bittersweet Confections, Breads on Oak, Brennan’s, Bywater Bakery, Caludas’s, Cannata’s, Caywood and Randazzo Bakery, Hi Do Bakery and many more.
This year, she will kick the celebrations up a notch with a celebratory king cake countdown party at Zony Mash taproom, 3940 Thalia St., on Thursday (Jan. 5).
It will feature music from Soul Project and the first-ever Mardi Gras Monarch Pageant. The party is from 9 p.m. to midnight, when revelers will welcome in Carnival with the season’s first king cake.
Contestants Katrina Waters, Debbie with a D, and Aiden Abette will compete in the pageant, to include an interview, a Carnival-themed challenge and a costume competition. Then, at midnight, the newly crowned monarch will cut and share the first slices of king cake with all of the royal subjects.
“We always make a big deal about selecting someone to cut that first ceremonial piece of king cake, so I thought we should have a pageant,” Jennifer Samuels said. “We want to be able to eat king cake as soon as midnight hits.”
Professor Carl Nivale and Grand Marshal Marty Graw will emcee the pageant, which will feature appearances by several dance krewes, including El Lucha Krewe, Sassyracs and Voulez Krewe.
As a part of the celebration, Zony Mash will release their 2023 King Cake Stout, and Southerns food truck will be serving fried chicken.
On Friday (Jan. 6), King Cake Hub will officially open at 8:30 a.m. while Josh Paxton plays Carnival favorites in the beer garden and Hey! Cafe sells coffee. A new addition to the Hub, Paw Paws Donuts, will serve king cake donuts.
More than 70 different king cakes will be featured at the Hub throughout the season. Can’t make it to the Hub? A collaboration with d’Livery lets you get your king cake without leaving the house.
King Cake Hub’s pop-up will also return to The Shop at Historic New Orleans Collection at 520 Royal Street for its second year. The Shop will host a kick-off party on Jan. 6 at 9:30 a.m. with DJ Eureka Starfish.
“We set up at the Historic New Orleans Collection last year and people loved it,” Samuels said. “They have a really pretty gift shop with local things and they clear out a space to feature a rotating selection of king cakes.”
King Cake Hub at Zony Mash will be open daily from Kings Day, Jan. 6, until Lundi Gras, Feb. 20.
Hours: 8:30 a.m. until sold out.
Reporter Marielle Songy can be reached at email@example.com.