Betty Campbell-Adams, co-founder and driving force behind legendary Bronx bakery Lloyd’s Carrot Cake, died on December 11 in Mount Vernon, New York, according to the New York Times. She was 65 at the time of her death.
Campbell-Adams was completing a last-minute delivery of carrot cakes at the time of her death, one whose pickup had been delayed but that she took upon herself to avoid having the baked goods arrive late. She reportedly felt unwell while behind the wheel, came to stop, and was found in her car the next morning. Her son, Brandon Lloyd Adams, tells the Times that her cause of death is believed to be a heart attack.
The marketing director turned full-time baker started Lloyd’s Carrot Cake in the 1980s with her husband, Lloyd Adams. Using a secret recipe from Adams’s Caribbean grandmother, the duo began baking carrot cakes, first out of a pizza oven in the basement of an apartment building and, later, from the bakery’s current storefront across from Van Cortland Park in Riverdale. Demand for the cakes grew locally, and soon the bakery’s popular creations could be found in neighborhood coffee shops and restaurants, including at Harlem institution Sylvia’s.
Campbell-Adams’s husband, the Lloyd behind Lloyd’s Carrot Cake, died from a heart attack in 2007. She reopened the bakery shortly after his death and later quit her job as a marketing director at Time Warner Cable to run the business full-time. During Campbell-Adams’s tenure, Lloyd’s Carrot Cake opened a second East Harlem location in 2011, while the bakery’s original Riverdale flagship expanded into a neighborhood storefront in 2016.
At a vigil held in front of the Riverdale bakery on December 12, son Brandon Adams shared that he and his sister, Lilka Adams, planned to continue their mother’s work at the bakery. “Her legacy is the fact that this cake has now been all over the world,” Adams said. “Now the torch is being handed to my sister and I and it is our time.”
The East Harlem and Riverdale locations of Lloyd’s Carrot Cake are temporarily closed but will reopen on January 11.