Life in the VCU area has gotten a little sweeter in recent months.
Specialty bakeshop CapCity CupCakes opened Saturday on West Broad Street, a few blocks from the university. The shop is the newest venture from Michelle Anthony, who owns gourmet cake and catering company Slice of Grace Bakery Boutique on Brook Road.
Anthony said she picked a location on the ground floor of Coliseum Lofts, an apartment building that houses VCU students, to tap into the university market. But she’ll have a little competition.
The store is just a few blocks from Sweet Mo’s Minis, which started selling bite-size cupcakes and cookies in October at 902 W. Broad St. It’s also near Sally Bell’s Kitchen, a longstanding bakery on West Grace Street.
Sweet Mo’s owner Aleesha Richards said she thinks there’s enough business to go around. About 80 percent of her shop’s customers are students, and Richards said her $1 mini-cupcakes have been a big hit.
“I think I have a price point that’s pretty easy for students to fit into their budgets,” Richards said.
A veteran of the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” competition show, Anthony knows how tough the industry can be.
“It’s a congested market,” Anthony said. “But I think it just comes down to quality. We’re happy with the product we sell.”
Slice of Grace offers a dessert menu of brownies, cookies and cupcakes, but Anthony said the bulk of her business comes from designing custom cakes. She sells between two and 10 a week, and they start at $155. One of her cakes got its closeup on an episode of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
Her new location is going to focus on cupcakes and pastries.
“We’re going to expand our hours and try to grow our foot traffic,” Anthony said. “It’s going to be more about high volume at CapCity.”
Anthony said she’s been looking for a place to expand since she opened Slice of Grace in 2005. She found the location at 1367 W. Broad St. about four months ago.
To cut down on equipment costs, Anthony plans to bake at her Brook Road location and transport the goods to her Broad Street storefront. She financed the expansion out of her personal savings.
“It’s almost like my baby,” Anthony said. “I think a lot of people get into this business because of the joy of it. It makes me happy to see other people happy.”