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Unleashing the inner artist through baking, meet The Cake Don

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Don Donneruno is an artist at heart — growing up in New York City, he sketched, drew, sculpted, painted, did it all, but upon entering adulthood, he ended up working “in corporate America.” 

At 42 years old back in 2010, he was approached by a friend with an opportunity to show off his creative skills in a different way.

And he thought he had done it all. 

“My friend Meredith asked me to help her with a cake,” he said. “She knew my artistic ability and we made a King Tut cake, which was insane — I posted it on Facebook and 90 seconds after I posted it, my friend commented ‘you’re the Cake Don.’” 

The name stuck, and the rest is history. 

People started contacting Donneruno for cakes and he began baking at his home in Northport, for about a yea

He even landed a spot on season 4 of the TLC reality show, “Next Great Baker,” in 2014 which then took his baking and exposure to an entirely new level.

From that point on, he decided this is the career path he wanted to take. 

He opened The Cake Don at 455 Westbury Ave. in Carle Place six years ago and the business thrived. 

However this year, he says the pandemic caused “all the cakes to be canceled.” With parties and special occasions coming to halt, Donneruno had to improvise. 

“The first day, we had 30 cancellations, so we started making cupcakes,” he said. “I posted on my Instagram that I would deliver a dozen cupcakes anywhere in Nassau County for 36 dollars because people were locked in their house with their kids, and at that point, they were really nervous about going anywhere, and it really took off.” 

He was fortunate to not have to close his shop; the cupcakes truly “kept the lights on,” as it says on the business’s website. 

One day, he drove past an empty storefront on 605 West Jericho Turnpike in Huntington, soon signed a lease and turned the spot into his second business, Cake Don Cupcakes, which officially opened in August. 

Since then, there has been a steady flow of customers every day, Donneruno says. He’s even got the attention of the Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo.

Walking inside Cake Don Cupcakes, one is hit with a wave of nostalgia, especially for those from any of the five boroughs, or who grew up in the 1980s.

The décor reflects Donneruno’s NYC roots and younger years in Whitestone, Queens. 

“The 7 train from Flushing, Queens to Manhattan is the train I took as a kid,” he said, gesturing to the subway car backdrop inside the shop. “I learned about graffiti, rap music, fashion, art, and different cultures, that 7 train was my crash course in pop culture.” 

The cassettes that line the walls are some of Donneruno’s favorite jams he listened to on his commute. 

An inspirational quote from the Will Smith film, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” stands out in the shop alongside the cupcake and angel-wing logo the baker designed himself. 

The main attraction is the array of aesthetically pleasing cupcakes: red velvet, s’mores, a Samoa-flavored cupcake, cookies and cream, chocolate-dipped with a cherry on top, and much more. 

Cupcakes don’t need to be over-complicated, in Donneruno’s opinion — just a simple, sweet-tooth fix. 

Donneruno said once he realized he could tap into his inner artist and support his family, there was no going back. 

The plan is to expand and have Cake Don Cupcakes become an established name all over Long Island. 

“However long it takes, there is no expiration date on the dream,” he said. 

Scroll down for photos of Cake Don Cupcakes. 

Continue to follow greaterhuntington.com for updates on new businesses in the area.

Top: The Cake Don, Don Donneruno, owner of The Cake Don Cupcakes now open in Huntington.