|Georgetown Cupcake's Bethesda, Maryland store|
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.