KIM DAME Hernando Today correspondent
Published: December 19, 2012   |
Updated: May 7, 2013 at 07:49 PM
Name: Babycakes Cup-Cakery
Location: 4196 Mariner Boulevard, Spring Hill 34609
Telephone: (727) 514-8327
Tina Grogan's work day begins promptly at 6 a.m. when she begins preparing the day's inventory. Inside the quiet storefront on Mariner Blvd., as commuters drive to work, Grogan fills mixing bowls with the precise combination of ingredients that will become one of 10 flavors of decadent cupcake creations. At 9 a.m. when the store officially opens, Grogan is still baking. In fact, she didn't finish until well after 1 p.m. The routine is the same each day since every cupcake in the store is baked fresh daily. Grogan is quick to give credit to her Pastery Chef, Solange Austin, a graduate from a culinary school in Orlando. "I couldn't do all this by myself," Grogan said. Grogan is no stranger to a full day of labor, building her experience in the food service industry for years as the manager of several different recognized and successful chains. Babycakes Cup-Cakery, however, is her first venture as an owner and she is more than a little determined to do what it takes to keep her dream a success. Baking cupcakes professionally was an idea Grogan and her business partner had considered for awhile. The economy had forced Grogan back into the field and left her partner without a steady job. "We thought about opening a restaurant and serving cupcakes," Grogan said. After doing a little research, they decided they could build a store around cupcakes. And they did, test marketing their creations on anyone who was interested in taste-testing. Grogan asked customers and colleagues at work to try her cupcakes. No one refused and everyone loved them. "I was getting text messages and calls saying they were the best cupcakes they'd ever eaten," Grogan said. Grogan's background in food service was already proven. Her partner was well-versed in financial topics. Together, they made a perfect recipe for an entrepreneurial adventure. After only a month of store preparation, Babycakes Cup-Cakery had its soft opening on Dec. 8. Grogan said it was a quick decision to open the store. Everything was ready to roll when they got word on Friday from the county that all their paperwork was in order. Grogan, her mother, sister and friends took turns attracting customers into the store with samples. The reception was positive. Everyone who tried the cupcakes loved them. The ideas for each unique flavor, Grogan said, come from a shopping list of different places. Suggestions from friends, family members and her own gusty urge to try something new, contributed to menu items like Momma's Magnificent Macaroon, Hot Red Velvet, and Brownie Peanut Butter Cup. The description of each succulent choice is as "tasty" as it is accurate. Consider the PMS Cupcake, "fudgy brownie cupcake with white, dark, and milk chocolate chips baked in the center with chocolate fudge frosting, drizzled with whit chocolate…" A unique spin to this cupcake shop, however, begins with a passion for giving back. Grogan and her business partner are dog people. They both own rescued pit bulls. Grogan's dog, Baby, is black and white. Her partner's, Blue, is grey and white. While Grogan has a knack for baking cupcakes, her partner always wanted to open a dog rescue. "It just takes so much money," Grogan said. So they decided to combine their passions into one store that could serve two visions. They have already been in contact with Orlando Bully Rescue and plan to feature available pets on the walls of the shop. "We will have pictures of dogs that need to be adopted and dogs that have been adopted," Grogan said. In addition, Grogan has been in touch with Pet Smart and will be meeting to discuss local options for pet adoptions. "We want to help get them adopted," she said. The collaboration between the two is a unique partnership of creative minds and charitable hearts. Even the name, Babycakes, and the store logo, a whimsical design of a baby and a dog, have special meanings. With the help of a graphic's company, the two pit bull pets were blended into the pup in the logo. The graphic baby was created from NAME'S baby picture. Grogan's dog, Baby, was behind the business name. The store is an inviting environment of pretty colors and unique props. The cupcakes are so dense that they are served in a charming cup with a matching, attached spoon. "We had comments that they were too hard to eat without a bowl," Grogan said, which inspired the unique bowl and spoon idea. "We also have an 'obsessive cupcake disorder' club," Grogan added, noting that many visitors become frequent customers. And they offer a refillable cup at an initial cost of $6.99 with refills of any beverage for just a $1. Like most new ventures, Babycakes Cup-Cakery is a work in progress. As the word gets out and customers sample the concept, Grogan's management skills are on high alert. She hopes to tweak the shop into a viable alternative to typical bakeries. The product…well, it seems sell itself. Larger than most purchased cakes, an order of half a dozen can't quite fit in the box. Mounds of butter cream or whipped cream frostings, topped with toasted coconut or chocolate or caramel drizzle, and thick, tasty fillings, all combined into a taste experience like none other. Babycakes Cup-Cakery sells by walk-in or request and offers seasonal favorites in addition to the 10 classic choices. They also offer some breakfast pastry varieties and muffins and coffee, soft drinks and bottled beverages. Kim Dame is a correspondent for Hernando Today. She can be reached at Damewrites@yahoo.com.