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Cakes by Graham owner Graham Haddock walks into a surprise retirement party in his honor at the Shoppes at The Renaissence on February 3. (Photo courtesy Hayes & Fisk Photography)
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Desserts and special napkins in honor of Graham Haddock. (Photo by Nicole Cohen)
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Wedding industry professionals gathered at The Shoppes at The Renaissance. (Photo by Nicole Cohen)
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Attendees of Graham Haddock's retirement party wrote well wishes inside a book filled with photos of the veteran cake maker. (Photo by Nicole Cohen)
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Filled with emotion, Haddock teared up as he greeted guests at his party. (Photo courtesy of Hayes & Fisk Photography)
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Haddock poses with two of his grandchildren, who hold a sign that reads, "We LOVE you, Graham!" (Photo courtesy of Meghan Ely)
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It's a celebration: Haddock having fun with two of his grandchildren at his surprise retirement party. (Photo courtesy Meghan Ely)
Everyone was all smiles and tears as more than 120 people gathered to surprise Cakes by Graham owner Graham Haddock with a retirement party February 3 at The Shoppes at The Renaissance (101-107 W. Broad St.). Spearheaded by Lou Stevens of Lou Stevens Glam Squad, and largely organized by Britny Bassett (the squad’s social media coordinator), local wedding vendors came together and pitched in with refreshments, music and, of course, sweets to celebrate Haddock’s retirement.
Haddock is retiring and closing his business due to a condition that is causing him to shake when he works. This unfortunately has caused him to struggle with his cake creations so he has made the decision to retire, but will continue to create cakes until June.
The surprise celebration last night definitely came as a shock to him as longtime girlfriend Debbie Edmonds assisted in keeping the party a secret. When he walked into The Shoppes at The Renaissance, he couldn’t help but tear up at the turnout. As he addressed the gathering he told them he couldn’t believe everybody was there for him saying, “I walk in and I see people standing in a circle and I thought, ‘Why are you all standing in a circle’ and then I thought ‘Oh, I recognize everybody’ and then I thought ‘Why are you all facing the door,’ so I’m just totally overwhelmed, totally surprised. Ya’ll are some right sneaky people, I spoke to some of you this morning.” He told the guests, “It’s just cake,” but his industry colleagues and friends resoundingly replied with “It’s more than that” and “It’s an art.”
Haddock turned the tables on the surprise though when he announced that he would begin coaching. So once he closes his business he will begin a new venture of taking what he has learned in his 22 years as owner of Cakes by Graham and imparting that wisdom onto a new generation of bakers.
Guests of the party were not only treated to desserts and music, but also shared their
memories of Graham, even signing a photo book with well wishes. The letter “G” could also be spotted around the event space, as children from the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation decorated the wooden letters in honor of him. His favorite charity, Haddock often spends time there with the children and baking cakes for them.
Choice Entertainment owner Bill Gilliam toasted Haddock. “A few congratulations for you — congratulations on building a brand that’s the best in Richmond … congratulations on the gazillion awards you’ve earned and so definitely deserved … congratulations most importantly in doing it all in such a way to touch this many people to get them to come and celebrate your successful past and wish you well in the next step and the success that we’re all sure you will most definitely enjoy.”
At the end of the night Haddock said, “I’m overwhelmed … I just had no idea and was totally surprised and very flattered, very honored to have everybody here around me, just so blessed.” And while the event was a bit bittersweet for Haddock, he’s ready to begin a new chapter in his life. “I’m still going to be using the experience that I have, I’ve still got all the passion for [cake baking and decorating] as well. I just can’t physically do what I’ve been doing in the past,” he says. “It’s just time to refocus and change the direction I’ve been going on, so I’m looking forward to that.”
You can read more about this event and Haddock in the upcoming June issue of Richmond Bride.