town topics

Kara Leo inside the kitchen of her new shop, Kara Kakes, at 304 Beverly Road. photo/John Schisler

KARA loves KAKES Kara Leo has always loved to bake—especially cakes. But not just simple cakes. Leo, who does business as Kara Kakes, makes signature custom cakes for any and every occasion—beautiful classic confections or whimsical non-traditional designs (A sneaker! A teapot!).

Leo has opened a retail shop at 330C Beverly Road, where you can take home her cakes, cupcakes and cookies, or meet with her to discuss your custom project. She also uses the shop to prepare cakes for dessert at adjacent Café io, owned by Jeff Iovino, who was her next-door neighbor growing up on Beverly Road.

The 1999 Mt. Lebanon High School grad earned a bachelor’s degree in baking and pastry arts from Johnson and Wales University in 2003 and started working in small French bakeries in resort towns. She worked as a chocolatier in Boston and made all sorts of pastries. But that varied experience led her back to her passion.

“I realized I really like to just do cakes,” she says. “Cakes just kept bringing me back.”

She lives in South Fayette with husband, Jared Quinteros and their children, Oliver, 7, and Owen, 5.

While Leo makes cakes of all sorts, her signature is her chocolate chocolate mousse cake. Leo also makes gluten-free and egg-free cakes and can tailor her recipes to fit any dietary need. Because of Leo’s own nut allergy, her cake shop is nut free.

Kara Kakes is open:
Tuesdays—Thursdays: 11 a.m.—4 p.m.
Fridays: 10 a.m.—5 p.m.
Saturdays by appointment
Closed Sundays and Mondays.


At a gymnasium, you get your body in shape. But at Mt. Lebanon’s new Mathnasium, you get your brain in shape. Mathnasium, a math instructional center with 600 locations nationwide now located at 300 Cedar Boulevard, serves children in grades 2 through 12. Mathnasium’s theme is that children don’t hate math, says franchise owner Meena Aggarwal—they hate being confused and intimidated by math.

When children begin as students at Mathnasium, they receive assessments that determines what they know and what they need to learn. Each student then receives a customized learning plan. Even though the work is done in a classroom setting, Mathnasium strives to give each student individual attention. Mathnasium promises measurable changes in attitude, confidence and school progress, whether the program is enrichment or remedial.

The classes also are planned to be fun, with kids motivated by reward incentives and prizes.

Options offered also include homework help, ACT/SAT prep and summer programs.

The program is year-round and works like a gym membership, where you pay a monthly fee and you drop off the kids as many times a week as you would like, typically two to three times a week.  Hours: Monday through Thursday, 3 to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For details:, 412-213-8696, or