- Business Advocacy
Mary Aqleh, who owned Perfectly Sweet at 126 W. Main St., Alhambra, died March 10. She was a nurse for 23 years at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. She had two loves in life, baking and gardening. She began bringing her homemade desserts to parties and other gatherings at work. They were a hit.
Then came the discovery that changed her life. A Swedish friend showed her how to make Sarah Bernhardt cakes, a delicious concoction of meringue and ground almonds surrounded by chocolate mousse and covered with rich Belgian bittersweet chocolate.
In Ms. Aqleh’s off time, she rented space in a bakery to use their ovens to turn out the cakes that became her signature product. She soon had three industrial sized refrigerators in her garage.
She sold her cakes to doctors and nurses at the hospital but soon came to the attention of Bristol Farms and Wild Oats Markets, who began buying her confections. With the support of her husband Kamal and son Michael, Ms. Aqleh made the decision to end her career as a nurse and become a full time dessert maker.
In 1989, she opened Perfectly Sweet in Eagle Rock and worked hard to fill a growing demand for the Sarah Bernhardt cakes and other cakes, cookies, and tarts that she began to master. She even got the attention of Whole Foods Markets and began filling orders for them.
By 1998, she needed more space, and Perfectly Sweet was drawn to Alhambra by City Manager Julio Fuentes. Ms. Aqleh found space at 126 W. Main St. and became so busy with commercial customers, catering, and in-store sales that she employed two shifts to meet the demand. Her son Michael now runs the operation.