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Largo's Home-Grown Sweet Spot

Wednesday, March 16, 2005; Page F05

Perched near the edge of the Boulevard at the Capital Centre shopping center in Largo is a sun-filled cafe and pastry store that is building a following with specialties such as white chocolate mousse cake and sweet potato cheesecake.

It is a branch of the locally owned Sweet Tooth Cakes and Pastries, which has been operating on Ritchie Road in Capitol Heights for nine years. Brothers Stephen and Ricardo Thomas started the business; Diane Jackson, their first cousin, runs the cafe.

The store has three tables, and rows of strawberry shortcake, lemon and carrot cake in glass cases along with cookies and other treats. The sour cream pound cake is made from an old family recipe.

Slices of cake can be eaten on the spot with coffee or tea. The cake of the day costs $1.99.

Iced and tastefully decorated, the cakes form a rainbow of colors on the shelves. Prices start at $17 for a seven-inch cake and rise to $38 for the most expensive 10-inch version. The cafe will write "Happy Birthday, Junior," or the equivalent, in butter-cream icing or in chocolate at no extra charge.

Slices of four-layer classic American chocolate cake or sweet potato cheesecake cost $2.75. Individual cookies are about 75 cents each.

The cheerful bakery and eatery opened in February 2004 in an area of the shopping center near where Earvin "Magic" Johnson's new 12-screen movie complex opened in October.

Best sellers are the mousse cake, which features a heavy icing, the sweet potato cheesecake, lightly flavored and not too sweet, and the triple chocolate cake, for people who love any dessert as long as it is chocolate. The store specializes in wedding cakes, with a photo gallery of styles, but also allows customers to design their own.

Thomas, who worked as a pastry chef at several big hotels before striking out on his own, still keeps a hand in the cooking process. "I want to outserve the competition," he says.

The cafe, at 900-R Capital Centre Blvd. in Largo, is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Call 301-324-6601 or seesweettoothcakesand pastries.com.

-- Judith M. Havemann

© 2005 The Washington Post Company