Locals: Molly's Cupcakes will benefit other businesses

BY ANNA EGELAND | JULY 25, 2012 6:30 AM

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Jamie Smith, the owner of Molly’s Cupcakes, 14 S. Clinton St., cannot wait to share her cupcakes with downtown Iowa City. The new sit-down bakery, located between McDonald Optical and the Summit, will hold its grand opening from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 29.

Local business owners say the new eatery may benefit their stores as well.

“I just want to share the amazing products with everybody,” Smith said.

She said she has worked on getting funding and finding a location for her branch of Molly’s Cupcakes for two years.

“It takes a while to get everything together,” she said.

Smith was awarded a $35,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Iowa City City Council on May 1. The Iowa City location will be the third branch of Molly’s Cupcakes, which also has stores in New York and Chicago.

Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek, who was on the economic-development committee that recommended Molly’s Cupcakes for the grant, said he thinks the store will lead to an increase in diverse businesses.

“[The economic-development committee] was impressed with the business plan, the foresight, and the owner,” Hayek said.

Leah Cohen, the owner of Bo-James, 118 E. Washington St., said she was able to try a sample from Molly’s Cupcakes.

“I was able to taste [a sample], and it was delicious,” she said.

Cohen said she thinks Molly’s will add to the variety downtown.

“I certainly think it will add a different flavor,” she said.

Cohen is not the only local business owner who thinks Molly’s will bring positive change.

Peter Vanderhoef, the owner of Iowa Book, 8 S. Clinton St., said Molly’s will be a welcome change from the usual bar scene downtown.

“It can’t hurt,” he said. “It’s a small franchise, and it’s not a bar: that’s a good thing these days.”

Vanderhoef said Molly’s could possibly increase the number of customers for his store because the customers will come to Molly’s during the day rather than just at night.

“It very possibly could increase people for Iowa Book,” he said.

Hayek said Molly’s Cupcakes’ evening presence will give customers another option for going out at night.

Hayek said he thinks the location will add to the success of Smith’s store, beacuse there is a large amount of foot traffic and it’s across from the UI campus.

Smith said her business is unique because it’s a sit-down bakery with ample dining space, it’s a nightlife destination, and customers have the opportunity to build their own cupcakes.

Build-your-own cupcakes have four flavors of cake, such as red-velvet and vanilla, for customers to choose from and cost $2 a piece. Center-filled cupcakes cost $3 and come in 12 flavors including peanut butter and Nutella, mixed berry, and Hawkeye. Smith said customers can also find baked goods such as mini-cheesecakes and brownies on the menu.

“I hope to just be really a staple to the community,” she said.

Smith said the shop has a fun atmosphere, complete with swings at the coffee bar and antique lunch boxes decorating the interior.

“I want [customers] to feel like kids again,” she said.

After opening Molly’s Cupcakes to the public, Smith said her next goals are to focus on catering and weddings as well as expanding her space to include a room for private parties.

“We hope to do a lot more with catering and weddings,” she said.

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