New Gourmet Cupcakery Set to Open Doors in Iowa City this Weekend
The popular Molly's Cupcakes Franchise is opening in its third city after enjoying success in New York and Chicago.
Jamie Smith, a Manchester native, lived in Chicago for six years, starting out by making her living in real estate.
But her heart just wasn't in it.
No, she craved something else.
"I have a huge sweet tooth," Smith said, with a smile Thursday afternoon, as she sat near employees receiving training to work in her soon to be opened cupcake shop. "I love being surrounded by all this sugar."
Smith, 29, is opening a Molly's Cupcakes branch in Iowa City at 14 S. Clinton Street this weekend, a culmination of a two year journey that started with her walking out of the real estate industry and into a career at Molly's in Chicago.
This journey included a lot of hard work securing the funding, including some in the form of a loan from Iowa City. Her hard work, though, has paid off, and she's excited to get started.
Molly's will offer a variety of decadent, high-quality cupcakes including filled cupcake shells and different flavored frostings. Customers can either make their own or sample from cupcake favorites such as lemon meringue, strawberry shortcake, cookie monster (filled with cookie dough), and chocolate mousse.
Molly's Cupcakes is an example of the specialty gourmet cupcake stores, quite popular in large metros like Chicago and New York where Molly's already is based, but which have not spread to smaller towns.
Smith said she thought it was only a matter of time before it did, and Iowa City was her first choice for bringing it to Iowa.
"Iowa City already has such a strong culinary scene, and a walkable retail space, so I thought we would be a perfect fit here," Smith said.
Part of Molly's coming to Iowa City, of course, was due to the fact that several Chicagoland residents come to school at the University of Iowa, and thus will be no stranger to Molly's in Iowa City, she said.
She also joked that it clearly means that Iowa City is on the same level as Chicago and New York.
"It shows we can handle the big dogs," she said, laughing.
John Nicolaides, 45, the owner of Molly's, was in Iowa City Thursday for employee training. He said he was looking forward to Molly's starting a branch in a smaller market.
"It's really exciting," he said. "It's a smaller community so hopefully everyone will know about it and it can become a part of the community.
"Smaller communities deserve good cupcakes, too."
Nicolaides said that part of the mission of Molly's is to become a strong community member and to invest in local projects and charities. He said in larger cities, this can be somewhat overwhelming, so he looked forward to being able to integrate into a smaller community.
Molly's is also designed as a place that is open to students who want to hang out, Smith said. Cafe del Sol coffee is available, as well as scones and other pastries for the breakfast crowd heading to class, and wireless Internet will also be available. The store will also be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. until midnite on weekends, providing an alternative for the college crowd looking for another option besides a bar to hang out at.
That's good news for Sana Naqvi, 19, a University of Iowa student from Le Mars who works as a cupcake filler at Molly's. Naqvi said that she doesn't enjoy the bar scene all that much and would like another option.
"It will be nice to have an alternatve to roaming around at night or going to bars," Naqvi said.
Molly's will have its grand opening Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. Smith said that if you want to avoid the Sunday rush, you could also come in and try a cupcake and meet the staff at the unofficial open date on Saturday from the same times.
For information, including entering catering orders, you can call Iowa City Molly's at 319-333-1297. The soon to be finished website can be found here, until then the website in Chicago can be found here.