SweetHaus has been serving up cupcakes to the Charlottesville community for the past year. Now with a new location, they're using a little sugar, spice, and business savvy to take their store to the next level.
The owner, Tara Koenig, said that the old location on West Main Street, near Random Row Books, was getting too small. It was eventually going to be torn down to build the new Marriott Hotel, so the store moved down West Main Street closer to the UVA Corner. Now they're in a space big enough to move beyond just selling cupcakes.
Just months ago the store was an auto shop. "It really required a lot of creativity and imagination to see through all of the dirt and dinge to get to where we are right now," said Koenig. "I love it mostly because we had the opportunity to create something out of a space that was almost unimaginable for what we're doing right now."
Koenig has repurposed some things from the auto shop as well. The glass that looks into the kitchen used to be the divider between the work area for the auto shop and the waiting room. The front counter is an old work table that was once covered in linoleum.
Koenig says the space had a lot of potential, "It was a fun space to work with when we came in because we wanted to keep the footprint of the building, and keep the cost down by doing minimal changes.
Koenig said she loves the new store space, and is excited to share her baked goods with new customers.
"I just really love sweets," Koenig said. "Actually I really love butter. Butter is probably my favorite food, so I love frosting and cupcakes kind of all combining butter. But I think what I love the most about this job is all the kids."
Now SweetHaus is being renovated to accommodate more kids. It's already an open space with bright colors and lots of candy and cupcakes. But now Koenig is turning a room into a kid-friendly space with an enclosed child-safe area where she hopes parents will bring their children to play. It's being decorated with items from Ikea that Koenig's two-year-old picked out.
"I figured I'd let the 2-year-old pick out the decorations for the kid area," she said.
Koenig is also considering starting a cupcake bar where people can buy a cupcake, then choose the sprinkles and other toppings to put on it.
"I don't think the parents will thank me, but the kids will," she said.
She's also planning to provide baking classes, birthday parties, a drive-up service and even craft classes.
"I'm sort of trying to create more of a creative lifestyle here as opposed to just selling cupcakes," Koenig said.
Business has really picked up since the store made the move down West Main Street. Ruth Stornetta, a customer, already made a return visit Tuesday.
"I'm back again for another cappuccino. Unfortunately I can't do the cupcakes every day, that might wreak havoc," Stornetta said.
Koening says she wants you to take a bite into a cupcake and think of what your grandma used to bake. "So I'm not trying to necessarily blow anyone away by reinventing the cupcake by any means, I just want it to taste good."
The final renovations, including an event space that people can rent for business meetings and kids' parties, will be complete in the next two weeks.
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