A new Cary location is the icing on the cupcake for three longtime friends and the owners of Smallcakes bakery.
Andrew Fisher, Adam Underwood and Justin Zanone tested the waters with a Durham bakery last year and expanded to Parkside Town Commons in August.
Smallcakes offers 12 signature cupcake flavors daily as well as a rotation of three specialty flavors. Smallcakes differs from other franchises in that bakeries are not limited to recipes dictated by the organization.
The three men, all in their late 30s, did not have cupcakes on their radar when they started talking about opening their own business.
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“We had always talked like guys in their 20s and 30s do, about opening a bar,” Fisher says.
That changed when they met the owner of Smallcakes in Atlanta.
“We joked about it at first, but after we did the research, it looked like it fit,” Fisher said. “We decided to pull the trigger a year ago.”
The Cary location was secured first, when the shopping center was still in the planning stages.
“We saw the center on paper before a shovel was in the ground,” Fisher says.
A smaller store in Durham was available immediately, so the partners opted to work out the kinks there and be ready to hit the ground running when the Cary site was built.
Fisher, who runs the day-to-day operations of the two bakeries, says he and his partners have learned to bake and ice cupcakes and enjoy creating new recipes.
“We weren’t chefs or bakers but we are all food guys.” Fisher said.
He spent a decade as a corporate lawyer and is the only one of the three who quit his day job. He shuttles between the two locations, but is spending more time in Cary as the new store gets off the ground.
That is not to say he does it alone.
“My partners are not silent partners,” he says.
Zanone, an emergency room doctor, is known as the trio’s best baker. Underwood uses his sales and graphic design background to handle Smallcakes’ marketing.
Smallcakes is located next door to a movie theater, which has been a boon for foot traffic.
“Real estate is critical,” Fisher says. “It took off here right away. … The people are here and the demand is here. Our best marketing tool is to get people to try a cupcake.”
Cupcakes are baked fresh daily and anything left in the cases at the end of the day is donated. In Durham, the cupcakes are given to the Ronald McDonald House.
“We are seeking a charitable partner here,” Fisher says of Cary.
Popular flavors are hot fudge sundae, lemon drop and red velvet. A chicken and waffle cupcake was a hit with male customers.
“We’ve taken some risks,” Fisher says.
For Halloween, Smallcakes will roll out six unique options available by special order. The week of Halloween, the specialty cupcakes will be sold individually in the store.
In addition to cupcakes, full-size custom layer cakes are available with buttercream or fondant icing.
Fisher says working together has not strained the partners’ friendship.
“It exposes our personalities a bit more,” he said. “We avoid stepping on each other’s toes. It’s a good division of labor. We communicate every day.”
Location: 1132 Parkside Main St., Cary, in Parkside Town Commons
Contact: 919-388-2253; firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday through Saturday; noon-8 p.m., Sunday