By Jason A. Smith
Stephanie Hughes, of Locust Grove, waited in anticipation Wednesday for an order of cream-cheese brownies to take home from It's Raising Cupcakes in McDonough. Hughes said she has enjoyed the shop's offerings since it opened in July.
"I like everything, but I need to stay away from it," she said with a laugh. "It keeps me coming back."
Hughes, 43, said she not only appreciates the quality of the food in the shop, but the people who run it as well.
"It's got a family feel," she said. "It's always welcoming."
Sisters, Nicole Baker of Hampton and Chrispian Hall of Ellenwood, are the owners of the restaurant, located at 141 Jonesboro Road in McDonough. The shop features cupcakes, brownies, cookies, muffins, scones and other items, which are made from scratch at the store.
Prices at the shop start at $1.25 for cookies, and $1.45 for cupcakes. The selections are available in regular, jumbo and colossal sizes. Baker said the business venture was a matter of divine intervention.
"Originally, we were just going to do something online, for mail-in orders of cupcakes and seasonal items," said Baker. "Then the Lord gave us a little different direction. We went on the Internet and found an existing building, with everything that we needed as far as equipment and supplies. We went on with the purchase of that, and decided to go from an online business to a storefront."
Baker said she and Hall decided on a name for the restaurant, after watching a television show about a man with a storefront business called It's Raising Cane's. According to Baker, the name reveals the sisters' intention to turn their dream into a franchise.
"He started out with a small storefront, selling chicken fingers," she said. "[Hall and I] were actually on the telephone, watching the same thing at the same time, and it all clicked. That's where we coined our name from, because we ultimately see that this is just the first of many stores."
Baker acknowledged that other, more established businesses specialize in the same types of items found at her restaurant. Still, she said, what separates It's Raising Cupcakes from the competition is a focus on customer service.
"Everybody that comes in appreciates the fact that [the food] is homemade," said Baker. "We know that any business only thrives with happy customers. We use all those things that you used to use when you baked with your mom in the kitchen, and that's the taste that we try to deliver to our customers -- things they loved when they grew up."
Baker said she and Hall had no trouble getting their business off the ground, despite the difficulties some start-up operations have faced in recent years.
"It was easy for us to get in and get established," Baker said. "We attribute that to the grace of God, how everything lined up. Everything that we purchased, we used our own funding -- no loans. We sort of pride ourselves on doing that in this economic time."
Celeste Cobb-Gross, a special-education teacher at Union Grove High School, brought some of her students to It's Raising Cupcakes recently. She said the food and the atmosphere in the store are both appealing to her.
"The owners have great personalities," said Cobb-Gross. "They're very friendly, they love our kids and the cookies are delicious. The personalities are a plus, but the cookies are really good."
Baker and Hall each came into their newest enterprise with business experience on their side. A graduate of the New York Restaurant School at the New York Institute of Technology, Baker has owned B&M Trucking in Hampton for 13 years.
Hall has operated Little Blessings Day Care in Ellenwood for the last three years. Hall said the restaurant enables she and her sister to return to their roots.
"I've always enjoyed cooking, and it was something that we grew up in the house doing," she said.
Hall said she had "no apprehension" about starting a business in the current economy, because she knew the restaurant would fill a need in the community.
"In any business, you have to be patient," she said. "Regardless of the economy, people are going to eat. They are going to treat themselves periodically, so that's the great beauty of it. And doing something that we love on a daily basis is so rewarding."
For more details, call It's Raising Cupcakes at (770) 957-6155.