Dozens of people lined up outside Prolific Oven, the long-time Palo Alto go-to for cakes and other pastries on its final day in business last Saturday. Though a sad occasion for many Palo Alto residents who relied on Prolific Oven for high-quality baked goods throughout its 39 years in business, the waitstaff remained cheerful until the very end. But it seems there just weren’t enough waitstaff to keep the business afloat.
According to a notice posted by the owners, the Chan family, on the Prolific Oven website, the closure was due to the “rising costs of doing business” in Palo Alto and surrounding areas, coupled with a “severe shortage of skilled employees.”
“Our refusal to lower our quality and standards has resulted in an unsustainable business model in Silicon Valley,” said a notice posted on the Prolific Oven website.
Many regular customers said they were shocked by the sudden announcement.
“When I first heard the news that the Prolific Oven was closing soon, I was enraged, and then in denial thinking, ‘This can’t be true. It can’t be closing,’” senior Kate Milne said. “When I realized it was true, I was quite sad and very nostalgic about going there when I was little.”
Prolific Oven cakes were a mainstay of countless birthday parties and other celebrations in the Palo Alto area.
“You always kind of knew that your party was gonna be a good one if you served a Prolific Oven cake,” Paly parent and Prolific Oven customer Janis Bajor said.
The closure of Prolific Oven follows the recent closing of other small businesses in the area including Palo Alto Sport Shop & Toy World, the Milk Pail Market, Village Stationers and Keeble & Shuchat.
“It’s a warning that we should be doing more to help out other businesses before they go out of business, too,” Milne said.
Since customers will no longer be able to purchase cakes made by Prolific Oven, many customers have asked the Chan family for the recipes.
“We all really want their recipes so can still prepare those amazing cakes and frosting,” Bajor said.
More than 150 community members commented on the Chan family’s Facebook post announcing the bakery’s closure, requesting the cake recipes and expressing their sadness.
“I’m really sad,” senior Naomi Jecker said. “It was a staple for me and my friends for a long time; a lot of memories were made there.”