Monday, October 29, 2012

And You Thought Cupcakes Were Dead?

Georgetown Cupcake's Bethesda, Maryland store
Washington DC-based Georgetown Cupcake, New York-based Crumbs Bake Shop and Beverly Hills-based Sprinkles are all expanding south into Atlanta.

Sisters Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne left jobs in fashion and venture capital to open the first Georgetown Cupcake in Washington D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood in 2008.  Given the success of their first store, the sisters have expanded their mini empire to include locations in Bethesda, Maryland, SoHo, New York, Boston, Massachusettes and Los Angeles, California, scheduled to open later this fall.

Buckhead Atlanta had been considered by Beverly Hills, California-based Sprinkles, but will instead play host to Georgetown.  The exact location they will occupy is unknown to me but will likely be alongside the street level retailers planned for the project.  The corporate website for Georgetown Cupcake says their Atlanta store will open "Spring 2013" but my money is on them not opening til the fall, at the earliest.  

One of the most well known cupcake brands is the aforementioned Sprinkles, who earlier this year introduced the world's first Cupcake ATM outside their Beverly Hills location.  Sprinkles was founded by husband and wife duo Candace and Charles Nelson in 2005 following their visit to Magnolia Bakery in New York.  Both Candace and her husband left jobs in investment banking to open the first Sprinkles in Beverly Hills.  Today there are ten Sprinkles locations in America in addition to the ATM.   The ATM is restocked continuously and is open 24 hours a day, vending a variety of freshly baked cupcakes.  Sprinkles had sought input from its website visitors about where they should open next with both Boston and Atlanta in serious contention (via votes) to land one.

Sprinkles had years ago expressed interest in The Streets of Buckhead, the former name of the project now known as Buckhead Atlanta.  It seems now, with Georgetown Cupcake opening in the project, that Sprinkles has turned its attention to Lenox Square, where they will likely be part of the renovation at the front of the mall.  Though Sprinkles has not confirmed this expansion via their website or facebook, well placed sources say the deal is done. Apparently Sprinkles will open one of their largest stores to date at the popular Buckhead mall and will also install their Cupcake ATM onsite.  Though I have nothing to support it, it's very possible that the large space ( over 2,500 s/f ) that Sprinkles is leasing could be due to their plans to open a Sprinkles Ice Cream in the same space. 

Crumbs Bake Shop was started by husband and wife Mia & Jason Bauer on the upper west side of Manhattan in 2003.  Today the shop has over 50 locations in a variety of domestic locales, primarily in the northeast.  Crumbs went public earlier this year under the ticker CRMB and in August announced a partnership with Starbucks that will allow Crumbs to sell Starbucks brewed coffee in their locations in New York and later all of their locations.   Crumbs produces about 50 varieties of oversized cupcakes and also  offers more variety and beverage options than either Sprinkles or Georgetown whose sales focus is driven primarily by cupcakes.  Crumbs plans to open as many as 150 new locations by 2014, and plans to open eight locations in Atlanta next year.  Personally, I like the idea of Crumbs, heck, I'm even a stockholder, but think their vision for eight locations in Atlanta is a bit aggressive, especially given the plans of other established brands in the Buckhead area.  Crumbs does well with the walkers and tourists of pedestrian friendly New York.  In Atlanta, I could see a Crumbs in Buckhead if not for all that's already here and planned.  Other than that, a single location at or near Perimeter Mall might make sense.  

Buckhead has no shortage of cupcakes, with Kansas City-based Smallcakes, Orange Park, Florida-based CamiCakes and Roswell, Georgia-based Cloud 9 Cupcakes among the offerings along Peachtree Road.  Nashville, Tennessee-based Gigi's has a Buckhead location at Tuxedo Festival shopping center and Buckhead newcomer Mae's Bakery serves a number of cupcakes at their new Lenox Village bakery on Lenox Road.

Not all cupcakes are created equal and only the best tasting cakes with the strongest brands will survive.  The Great Cupcake Company closed their location near Fellini's in Buckhead earlier this year and Lenox Cupcakes closed their Phipps Plaza location last year.  Both shops continue to sell via their website but failed to sustain brick and mortar locations. 

What do you think?  Are cupcakes gonna crumble in popularity and close or will Crumbs and others find success in Atlanta and elsewhere?  Will Cloud 9 remain open in the Lenox Square food court when Sprinkles opens at the front of the mall? Who makes the best cupcake... in Atlanta... anywhere? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.  

14 comments:

Cameron said...

We did cupcakes for our wedding earlier this year and I can say without a doubt, this industry has some of the least professional folks operating within it. Even supposedly established companies like Atlanta Cupcake Factory were no-call, no-shows for meetings.

I think there's definitely room for a new competitor to come in and push out some of these companies struggling to escape the amateur "this is just a hobby for the owner" persona.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear some buckhead village/streets of buckhead news! It's good to hear about tenants... is there any other news out there about who is going to be filling the space?

Anonymous said...

Little Cupcake Bakery on Roswell Rd in Buckhead is one of the best, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the wrong name in my previous post. The cupcake shop on Roswell Rd. In Buckhead is called Little Cake Bakery. Best cupcakes in Atlanta, in my opinion. I think the market is already oversaturated, but everyone has their favorites.

Cameron said...

Little Cake Bakery is exactly where we ended up after going to several others. Very professional and excellent quality product!

Anonymous said...

I know cupcakes have been done to death but Georgetown Cupcakes is truly special. They've been doing well in DC for years and I tried them this summer in Boston and they were amazing. Looking forward to their arrival.

Anonymous said...

I don't care for cupcake shops because I love baking them myself, but I got a Sprinkles cupcake in Chicago last December and OH MY GOD I am so excited about this. And good riddance, Great Cupcake Factory! Took long enough.

Anonymous said...

We need cupcakes in midtown!!!

Anonymous said...

Holly's Cupcakes in Midtown is awesome!

Anonymous said...

I don't believe this one for a second. Lenox shops are hurting big time. If Sprinkles does any research at all, they'll pass.

Anonymous said...

Had first Sprinkles cupcake in Newport Beach several years ago and agree with the OH MY GOD comment! Have been waiting for 4 years for them to come to Atlanta so thank heavens they are finally coming! The chocolate with coconut frosting are to die for!

Anonymous said...

I had to stop by Sprinkles before flying out of LA last September and boy was I glad. I had pumpkin and my husband had german chochalate. To die for and great service. I would love to see them in Atlanta but not sure if Lenox Mall is the right location.

Anonymous said...

well i hear all of this i travel from state to state with my job i live in Dacula, Georgia there is a cupcake place here called CUPCAKE DIVA GIRLZ now there are the best beautiful looking and they taste even better ... you all need to come from downtown and come out here and try some good cupcakes and then they have cheesecakes and poundcake 465 dacula road dacula georgia GREAT CUPCAKES

Anonymous said...

Cupcakes in Atlanta is not smart. Manny successful restraints like craft, Wolfgang pucks and pink berry either went out of business or struggle for survive in the Atlanta area. i have been cost to cost.
I tried both Cami cakes and cloud9. Both very good. One Saturday i was in lenox mall.it was very crowded and i ate my entire lunch and not one person bought a cupcake. I've had them before and they are my top two in choice nation wide. Yet they were dead.
I wish cloud9 would come to long island. They would have a line all day long. My guess is all these major cupcake places are not going to do well in Atlanta.
Only time will tell. :-/