At first glance, the inside of the Cupcake Station on East Liberty Street looks more like a fairy tale house than a pastry shop.
Instead of maize and blue, Butter Cream Yellow and Robin’s Egg Blue cover the eatery’s walls. Customers sit at the “cupcake bar” to create their own fantasy snack.
The store, which opened Friday, is the second of its kind in Michigan. Owner Kerry Johnson opened his first store in Birmingham about two years ago and is excited to bring the concept to Ann Arbor.
“I love Ann Arbor as much as I love cupcakes,” he said. “It’s all about the connection in Ann Arbor.”
The Cupcake Station offers a variety of whimsical flavors, ranging from Lemon Lust to Southern Red Velvet, with cupcake prices ranging from $1.35 to $4.
The Cupcake Station is part of a larger trend taking the nation by storm. From The Little Cupcake Bakeshop in Brooklyn to Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, D.C. to Main Street Cupcakes in Hudson, Ohio, stores specializing in cupcakes are revolutionizing the dessert business.
Johnson said he had only heard of two other similar stores when he decided to create his own store three years ago. Since then, he said, cupcake shops have begun to pop up everywhere.
Crumbs, a popular cupcake chain, started in 2003 with a single store in New York’s Upper West Side. There are almost a dozen Crumbs stores in New York and Los Angeles, and the company plans to open 40 new locations in the next year and 150 in the next five years, The New York Times reported.
Johnson hopes some of the Cupcake Station’s bar-like features will set it apart from similar stores. He said he’s offering a happy hour where customers can sit at the bar, create their own cupcake and get a free cup of coffee. He also plans to show football games and American Idol in the shop.
So far, his “little cupcake shop” has gotten a warm reception in Ann Arbor. On Friday, the store’s opening day, Johnson offered a free cupcake to the first 500 customers. He said he opened the doors at 10 and by 10:30 there were at least 100 people lining up to get a free cupcake. By the fourth hour, the store had given out all 500 free cupcakes.
University LSA Information Technology employee Jeremy Hallum said he decided to stop in after hearing about the store from his wife. “I think it’s something different,” he said.
Ann Arbor resident Debbie Moran said the shop offers a good change of pace. “I think it’s really cool — not for when you’re on a diet,” she said. “You can come in here and do something a little different.”
Cleveland resident Kellie Kalus said she decided to stop in during her visit to Ann Arbor. She said she’s visited the Birmingham location and enjoyed the cupcake offerings there. The only thing she doesn’t like about the shop is that there isn’t one in her hometown.
“Maybe I’ll open one up,” she said.
Johnson said he wants to expand the franchise, but unfortunately for Kalus, not in Cleveland. He said he plans to open stores in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Charleston, South Carolina.
— Lara Zade contributed to this report.