109 S. Adams St • Welsh LA
I’ve said it a million times: I love Welsh. It’s one of the last remaining towns that has managed to hold onto its historic appeal. While most people outside of the town would believe Welsh has been dormant, there’s a resurrection that’s taken place over the last few years.
I’m fortunate. I get the opportunity to visit Welsh quite often. If you don’t get to visit often and find yourself on I-10, take exit 54, turn to the south, and in less than a minute you’ll be at the center of town.
Recently, as I was driving down the main drag, I noticed a young lady hand-painting letters on a previously vacant store-front. Excited to see something blossoming in town, I was eager to come back after a few days to see the finished artwork reveal the newest business. I was so glad to see that Red Cardinal Desserts and Café was the latest addition to this cute little town.
I don’t usually do a whole spread on desserts and goodies. They’re usually incorporated into the whole scene as I write about my experience in a restaurant or eatery. I just don’t have the same sweet tooth that I, or many of us, did as a kid — or so I thought.
How did this little bakery come to be? I had to pop in and find out.
Standing with a smile behind the curved glass displays of baked sweets and treats was Shelby LaFosse, owner, baker and creator of Red Cardinal Desserts and Café.
Shelby is no stranger to restaurant ownership and management. An industry veteran, she began as a server and progressed to food coordinator for Jack Daniels Party by the Pool. She then became a sales rep for a national food service company.
As it did so many others, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Shelby to work from home. She fully expected to return to her sales rep job but that didn’t happen. She fell back on her passion and began baking from home, garnering a following of customers and supporters.
When you find yourself at a crossroads, what do you do? Shelby and her husband, Tommy LaFosse, decided to open Red Cardinal Desserts. “It’s fun, and everyone is happy. You never see a sad person eating a cookie,” says Shelby.
I asked how she chose the name Red Cardinal. It’s a homage to her first husband, who succumbed to cancer six years ago. The name is symbolic to Shelby, and she feels it’s totally relatable to others who have lost a loved one to such a devastating disease. Her way of giving back is to gift each person who brings in anything with a red cardinal on it a free cookie or treat.
You can’t help but feel this place is more than a small-town bakery. Everything is taking place and coming together for the little sweet shop, especially with the baking talents of Kim Mallett. Beautiful wedding and specialty cakes, chocolate-covered strawberries, coffee and, of course, cookies. Shelby’s specialty, and an obvious customer favorite, is the chocolate chip cookie. Red Cardinal sold 4,236 in just the first seven weeks.
One cookie in particular caught my eye: the salted caramel. Within seconds of getting back into my vehicle, I took my first bite — and I was in heaven. It starts with a delicate crisp on the edge that instantly melts in your mouth with buttery softness. And the caramel chips and grains of coarse salt send your taste buds on a ride. It took everything I had not to finish the whole thing myself, but I had to save half of it for my wife.
I went back the next day, at my wife’s request, so she could treat her office to these fantastic cookies. The following week, it was all about the oatmeal cream pies — pure heft and delight. Most of them never make it out of the house. One of my wife’s co-workers said she loved that she could taste every ingredient in each bite.
I’ve come to the realization that I use these cookies to say “thank you” to friends and neighbors. They can’t get enough.
So, what about the café portion of the Red Cardinal? The menu is marketed as “grab and go” lunches. You’ll find a variety of options for a quick bite: pasta salads with cheese, chicken salad on a croissant, strawberry salad and much more.
Red Cardinal is super cute, it’s old-town and it’s quaint. I love it, and my sweet tooth is happy.