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Simply Cupcakes

Ross Boissoneau - January 10th, 2011
Sweet Treats at Simply Cupcakes
By Ross Boissonneau
Life is sweet for Len Mayhew. With a little frosting on top.
And as the owner of Simply Cupcakes, Mayhew tries to make it that way for
With 15 different varieties of individual cakes with fanciful names and
visual appeal, Mayhew believes he’s hit on a winning recipe. From Red
Velvet to Key Lime, Funky Monkey to Black Tie, the varieties offer eye
candy as well as tasty treats ranging from sweet to sour.
Mayhew had no professional baking experience prior to opening his store,
but he says it had been in the back of his mind for a long time.
“I’d been thinking about it for years,” Mayhew confessed. “I’ve always
been the family baker. People said, ‘You should open up a bakery.’
“I always thought I’d like to, and it was just time to take the plunge.”

In his travels for Hagerty Insurance he had seen cupcake stores in
Washington D.C., San Francisco, and New York, and he believed if they
could make it there, he could make it anywhere. Including Traverse City.
“The big cities all have them. I thought, ‘Traverse City needs this.’” So
he quit his job at Hagerty Insurance, exchanging insurance sales for a
baker’s hat.
In fact, Mayhew believed in it so much, he launched the store at precisely
the wrong time of year: Right after the summer selling season had ended.
His thought was if he could make it in the offseason by establishing a
local clientele, they would still patronize the store in the summer while
the additional shoppers would further bolster the business.
Walking into the store, you are immediately aware that you’ve come across
something out of the ordinary. The floor tiles are red and white, the
walls are baby blue, the tables and chairs reminiscent of an old-time cafe
or ice cream shop. Yet it’s comfy, not overly cutesy.
And your eyes are drawn to the cupcakes on display, delicious-looking,
brimming with color and elegance.
In addition to the staples he currently offers, Mayhew plans on some
additional, rather abstruse flavors. You say you want a cupcake for
breakfast? The French Toast includes local maple syrup. Another one he
says is coming soon is a maple pancake with maple cream and bacon on top.
He’s even considering a Stout cupcake, made with local beer.
Mayhew says he is committed to using as many local products as he can. In
addition to the beer and maple syrup, that includes local honey and
cherries as well. He says it makes good business sense to support other
local businesses.

The holidays were a good business, with shops and offices ordering them as
gifts or for employees. Mayhew is already getting orders for weddings for
the coming summer, and he says other special events offer opportunities as
well. “There’s a lot of corporate events, and also people who come in and
buy them for the office,” he said.
“I thought it would probably be me and one other person (working). Now I
have seven employees. And this summer I will probably hire more.”
He also promises new varieties come summer. But in the meantime, he says
several of those he currently offers have struck a chord with patrons.
Among the most popular are the Pumpkin Spice, a sweet and spicy offering
with buttercream frosting; Key Lime, a sour cream cake stuffed with key
lime curd and a frosting with more curd, graham cracker crumbs and lime
zest; and Silly Wabbit, a twist on carrot cake, made with ground walnuts
and finished with a thin layer of chocolate ganache and white Italian
The store, located at 445 E. Front St., is open Monday through Saturday
from 11 to 6 – or until the last cupcake is sold. You can order online by
logging onto or by phone at 633-2253 (yes, that
spells CAKE).
While all the varieties are not available all the time, Mayhew believes
there’s enough daily variety to satisfy most any cupcake afficianado.
“I bake seven to ten (flavors) most days,” he said.

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