New Orleans East bakery trying to keep up with king cake demand

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It looks like a New Orleans festival is taking place on Chef Menteur Highway, but it's actually a line to get one of the city's most in-demand Carnival staples.

"Early this morning I saw it on television, they said you supposed to be in line now. Get up! So, I'm here," said customer Marshall Kendrick.

You used to be able to find one of the king cakes at 10 different locations across the city. But, starting Thursday, Dong Phuong will now only sell them at their Vietnamese bakery in New Orleans East. It's their way of keeping up with the overwhelming demand and taking care of their customers who make the drive from all over.

"I'll be darned, you make me want it more now. They must be that good," said customer Joe Lancellotti.

"Every hour I have at least a 100 people waiting. Just to give you an idea, in the morning my store opens up at 8 and they're waiting from 6:45, 7 o'clock so, they're waiting an hour before. Those loyal customers deserve to have access to all the king cakes we make," said Dong Phuong Manager Arthur Laughlin.

The bakery makes 1,000 king cakes a day and they sell 1,000. Customers have two shots at getting their hands on the goodness: once in the morning and once in the afternoon. But you have to get a ticket first, and that ticket is only good for two king cakes.

"This is one of the better king cakes I've had. It's not like the original king cake that taste likes a donut, this one here has like different layers of dough. It's good," said customer Muhammad Saddiq.

When they call your number, it's like music to your ears. But, those still stuck in line sometimes get creative and generous.

"What I can tell you of what I have witnessed, we've seen people sell their tickets so that you can get a king cake quicker. And then, I've seen someone sell their ability, they only wanted one king cake, but they had the ability to buy two so, someone stepped up and gave her $40 dollars for buying a king cake, just to buy their extra king cake, just took it, said capitalism, and left," said Laughlin.

The manager will tell you there's a sense of camaraderie among those who stand in line. They're even willing to come back and do it all over again.

"I come back tomorrow and get two more," said Kendrick.

You can also buy the king cakes online. The bakery sold just 100 in 2008 when they first got into the king cake business. Last Carnival season, they sold over 30,000.

Dong Phuong Bakery recently won a James Beard award. The manager says that brought the business to them because people wanted to come to the bakery and see what it was all about.

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