Up until she died in 2020, Betty Campbell-Adams has envisioned passing a street sign displaying the words of her husband’s life-long business achievement, “Lloyd’s Carrot Cake Way.”
Her son Brandon Adams went through several steps to prove that the bakery was deeply connected to the community and was worthy of recognition. He gained the attention of local elected officials and brought the attention to The Kiwanis Club of Riverdale, the Riverdale Main Streets Alliance and the Riverdale Neighborhood House. Then there were 150 residents who signed a petition for the ceremonial naming.
Several wrote blurbs after their signature as well.
“Lloyd’s Carrot Cakes have been part of nearly every family party since we moved to Riverdale, including our son’s bar mitzvah last year,” stated Mellissa Weiss, one of the petitioners. “It’s a real institution and brings people from all over NYC area to our neighborhood. I hope the city can honor this special place and the family who brought it to life.”
“It was a hidden gem,” former Manhattan resident Susan Kaplan wrote. “When we moved to Riverdale it seemed everyone knew her (Betty) and her family. We love supporting a neighborhood favorite.”
“And I think to some degree that it is now a family business — but she was always the face of that business. So it’s a woman-owned business, which I think was, inspiring,” said Damien McShane, board chair of the Riverdale Main Streets Alliance.
After winning the support from the local elected officials, including Bronx borough president Vanessa Gibson and the community, he needed to gain support from the Community Board 8.
“After speaking with the committee chair, I know there is a little bit of an issue with renaming the street over a commercial entity,” Brandon said during a February traffic and transportation committee meeting. “I think the best practice may be to use this opportunity to honor both my father and my mother.”
With no objections in the committee meeting, it was agreed upon to send the final decision to the full board meeting. During an April meeting it was approved. The next step is city council approval.
“To see these first steps come to fruition is really a dream come true — not just for me, but for the Lloyd’s Carrot Cake family,” said Lilka Adams, who helps continue running her parents shop in North Riverdale.
If approved by city council, the traffic light controlled, east-west crosswalk located at 6115 Broadway between West 251st Street and Manhattan College Parkway will be named, “Betty and Lloyd Adams Way.”
“She wanted to leave something with my father, because he really started this business, and when he passed away in 2007 my mom really stepped in and grew it to new heights and since she passed, our job is to continue that legacy,” Lilka said.
As far as the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance is concerned, the bakery is an extension of the park, Stephanie Ehrlich the executive director and park administrator, wrote in an email to The Riverdale Press.
“Without hesitation, we support the renaming of the street in their memory,” Ehrlich said.
Throughout the years the shop has become a fabric of Riverdale as people make their way to Lloyd’s as part of their day at Van Cortlandt Park. Even athletes who run the cross-country course make their way in for a slice.
In 2021, a year after her death the alliance created the Betty Campbell-Adams Park Angel Award to honor her longtime dedication to the park. Now which they call, “The Betty” is presented to a member of the community recognizing their devotion to the park.
“My mom has a lot of deep ties with CB8, especially with them renaming the Merchant of the Year award after her,” Brandon said.
The award seeks to identify merchants within the community that worked to enhance economic growth, increase participation and community relations.
How Lloyd’s came to be
Lloyd from St. Thomas and Betty from Costa Rica were from two different worlds, but they both ended up in Harlem. Eventually, they met at a club in the 1970s. As Betty got to know Llyod she was taken aback because she didn’t know Lloyd who looked like a basketball player standing at 6 foot 4 could bake.
However, Lloyd didn’t always want to pursue baking as a career. He tried out for the former Baltimore Bullets of the NBA, but he was injured and couldn’t take that path.
“I wondered if my father like made it, what if he was never injured, would there be a Lloyd’s?,” Lilka said. “Maybe it was a blessing in disguise.”
But Lloyd’s was not always in the Broadway store front. Lloyd himself began baking in his apartment.
“His friends would come over to watch a Knicks game because he was the only guy who had cable — they would say, ‘hey, boy bake a cake,’” Lilka said.
Lloyd also saw few premier carrot cake bakeries in the neighborhoods and took the opportunity to start his own business.
The recipe hails from St. Thomas, as his mother handed it to his sister who passed it to him. Lloyd tweaked it a little bit and started to bake in his apartment. However, he had a small operation in Betty’s apartment when they were dating.
Eventually, when they had enough money, they opened a storefront in Riverdale. The initial idea was to sell cakes to restaurants, but when people walked to the park, got off the bus or even drove with their windows open they would smell the aroma. Eventually, he decided to sell cakes and slices to customers as they walked inside.
The rest is history.