A large chalkboard menu adorning the pale pink walls of Hays’ newest business offers a simple suggestion: “Maybe a cupcake will help.”
Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery, 4320 North Vine, Ste. 20, opened in Tebo Village on Friday morning. Customers were trickling in even before the doors opened at 10 a.m., and business remained steady throughout the day, co-owner Ashley Stroup said Saturday morning.
“We had a great day yesterday,” she said.
Saturday morning also was shaping up to be busy, as franchise founder Jeff Martin was in Hays until 2 p.m. for a meet and greet and book signing. Martin — and his bakery — gained notoriety after appearances on “Cupcake Wars” and “The View.”
His book, “Buttercream Dreams: Small Cakes, Big Scoops and Sweet Treats,” tells the story of how Smallcakes was created and has now expanded to approximately 220 locations worldwide. It also includes recipes and baking tips.
Smallcakes started as a single store in Overland Park approximately 10 years ago.
“I always tell people it was a horrible location behind a Mexican restaurant. It was just the worst,” Miller said with a laugh. “Back then, we thought it was awesome but it was really bad. We just started selling cupcakes. It was big like in bigger cities like LA, New York, but nothing in the Midwest had really taken off.”
The store’s national exposure on several seasons of the Food Network series “Cupcake Wars” helped Smallcakes gain attention, and the business expanded to four stores in the Kansas City area.
“We were like this is awesome, but how do we get this out?” Miller said. “So we started kind of franchising it, and it just started growing.”
The bakery’s offerings also have expanded to include a variety of homemade ice creams, and individual franchise owners have the opportunity to create their own recipes. Miller had created approximately 100 original flavors, but that has expanded to approximately 300 as individual owners and bakers add their own ideas.
Smallcakes offers 12 daily flavors, including peanut butter cup, birthday cake, lemon drop and the classic vanilla or chocolate cupcakes with pink icing. Daily specials -- such as Friday’s strawberries and cream -- also are offered on a rotating basis.
The Hays store is co-owned by Stroup and David Hart, who also own the Smallcakes location in Great Bend. The local staff currently is working to create a menu item of their own, a decadent version of dessert nachos that has yet to be officially named.
“I’m so excited about it, I’m like mesmerized. They started it here,” Miller said of the new dessert offering. “It’s things like that that make it fun and not very franchise-like.”
Stroup and Hart had been working since this summer to prepare for the Hays opening, which required several months of construction work to prepare the new, unfinished building.
“We’re excited just to finally have the doors open,” Stroup said. “So much work goes into it. We’re just ready to have it all done and be open.”