Young and Hungry

Sweet Relief: Cupcakes Meet Bulletproof Glass at Olivia’s in Ward 8

In some ways, Olivia's isn't all that different from the plethora of other cupcakeries that have proliferated in D.C. in recent years. The shop is filled with the sweet aromas of cinnamon and sugar, and the color pink is prominent in the decor.

But one major difference is plain to see—specifically, the thick sheet of bulletproof glass separating the customers from the register.

Located along Minnesota Avenue SE, the District's newest temple of tiny frosted desserts would otherwise seem a signifier of increasing gentrification on the east side of the Anacostia River. Yes, even rough-and-tumble Southeast D.C. has finally succumbed to the prissy cupcake craze.

Yet, the very existence of the glassy barrier—the kind of thing you expect to see at cheap Chinese and fried chicken carry-outs, not precious bastions of buttercream—suggests the area still has a ways to go before shedding its neighborhood-in-transition label.

"It broke my heart to do that, but it’s a deterrent," says proprietor Cindy Bullock, who runs the cupcake shop alongside her husband, Bob Bullock, and their daughters, Kristina, 20, and Alexis, 18.

“Several people asked (about the glass) and said, ‘It’s a beautiful shop, its unfortunate that you have it up,’ but we had to have it," Bullock says.

“I have owned several business in this area and we have been robbed several times," she explains. "We wanted to make [the shop] elegant and beautiful, but because of the teenagers and having my children here we wanted to protect them.”

Bullock has been baking since childhood. Her own children encouraged her to turn that hobby into a business. The family has owned the building for years and decided that a cupcake shop would make good use of the space, as well as bring a new amenity to the neighborhood.

The cupcakes are all homemade. Note the bits of real fruit in Bullock's tasty strawberry variety. And they're cheap: generally, around $2 a pop—that's 75 cents less than the ones you find at tourist-magnet Georgetown Cupcake.

Olivia's, which opened in September, has already attracted some loyal patrons, who, despite the dubious implications of the glass, still see the place as a sign of progress in the neighborhood. "This is going to bring a fresh opportunity for people [in the community] to gather, other than liquor stores," says Sandy Dickens, an employee of nearby General Security Services Consultants, who's become a regular customer.

"I go to all of the other cupcakes places, including a small one in Maryland," Dickens says, "but they aren’t made as fresh and are overpriced.”

Photos by Odochi Ibe

  • Tanice Tait

    I recently purchased a house in Anacostia. Where on Minnasota is Olivia's. I would love to indulge.

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  • Eat Shop Live Anacostia

    Hi Tanice!

    Welcome to Anacostia! Olivia's Cupcakes is located at 2318 Minnesota Ave SE.

    To learn more about places to "eat, shop, and live" in your new neighborhood visit the Eat Shop Live Anacostia website. :)

  • dan reed!

    Certainly the owners of this shop deserve to feel safe, but I wonder if there's a bigger message sent in having a shop in Anacostia without bulletproof glass. If you want a safer neighborhood, sometimes you have to put for the perception of safety. Cupcakes may be irresistible these days, but ordering them behind bulletproof glass might be a deterrent to those hungry yuppies coming from across the river.

    And blaming crime on "teenagers"? How many times have the owners' teenage kids held up a cupcake shop?

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  • Justine

    Olivia's is in Ward 7 not Ward 8. Please get your facts correct.

  • Justine

    Dear Dan,

    Olivia's is in the Fairlawn neighborhood not the Anacostia neighborhood. Being "east of the Anacostia River" does not make it in Anacostia--it would be like calling all NW DC neighborhoods Adams Morgan.

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  • Hungry Yuppie

    "Cupcakes may be irresistible these days, but ordering them behind bulletproof glass might be a deterrent to those hungry yuppies coming from across the river."

    Don't worry. We are plenty deterred by the idea of "across the river" in the first place. Bulletproof glass never enters the equation.

  • big tony

    That's a shame, I might boycott if I actually cared

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    @Dan Reed

    You've obviously not spent much time on the southside. Yungins got guns and brandish them in the commission of crimes.

    Before you editorialize -- walk in other shoes, brah.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    @Justine... these folks don't know.

  • Tijani Jones

    Wow!?? This young writer took my picture and interviewed me and other people while we were in line. I thought she was writing for her school paper since she seemed so young and inexperienced. She asked about the glass and we all chimed in that we didn’t have a problem with it. One guy even shouted that they would be crazy not to have it. She also asked about the cupcakes and the princess rooms but I don’t see any of our responses mentioned here. Why wouldn’t she include the customer’s point of view? She conveniently didn’t mention the 2 cupcakes that she scarfed down between questions. This is a very nice place she could have done a better job representing what they’ve done here.

  • Chris Shott


    I'm looking at a city map by ward and it appears that part of Minnesota Avenue SE is indeed part of Ward 8 not Ward 7. The line between the two wards is drawn in rather zigzag fashion in that part of town, so it's kind of hard to discern. But I believe Ward 8 is the right descriptor here.

  • Shadé


    Maybe you should read the article again. The writer clearly uses quotes from a loyal customer. In fact, she also makes references to the high quality and value of the cupcakes. It sounds as though you are just upset that your picture and/or quote wasn't chosen. Maybe next time you'll get your five minutes of fame in the local paper...

  • Eat Shop Live Anacostia

    Our understanding is that Olivia's Cupcakes is indeed in Ward 8. Regardless, we love them either way. :)

  • NovaNicole

    “I have owned several business in this area and we have been robbed several times,"

    Um, yeah. We'll send Dan-o over there to check it out.

  • Bobby

    You all should just stop it and stuff a cup cake in your mouths!