by Jane Reuter
As owner of the recently opened Lone Tree Smallcakes, Heidi Hamilton is in the business of making people smile.
“People are happier when they eat,” said Hamilton, who co-owns the gourmet cupcake shop with her husband Darren.
And that makes Hamilton’s work a piece of (cup) cake. The Castle Rock mother spends her mornings baking cupcakes and also helps serve them to customers.
“This doesn’t feel like work,” she said. “It always feels like Saturday.”
Smallcakes offers 120 flavors of cupcakes, with 12 varieties baked fresh each day.
Flavors range from unusual — like maple bacon and chai tea — to the more traditional chocolate cream and pink vanilla. The cakes range in size from mini to large, with the most popular large size priced at $3.25 apiece.
“They’re big — twice as big as a cupcake you’d make at home,” Hamilton said.
The colorfully frosted cupcakes are popular choices for birthday parties and weddings. And unlike a traditional cake, Hamilton said, “You can mix and match so everyone can get what they want.”
The business is a happy surprise for the Hamilton, who wasn’t planning to open a cupcake franchise. But in researching the ideal franchise, Smallcakes repeatedly popped onto her computer screen. Hamilton was seduced not only by its sugary appeal, but the franchise’s rapid growth.
Franchise founder Jeff Martin, 35, and his wife Brandy opened the first Smallcakes in Kansas City in 2009. The franchise now includes almost 60 shops in 13 states. The Lone Tree store is Colorado’s only Smallcakes. So far.
“We hope to expand to other locations,” Hamilton said.
Smallcakes is among several national cupcakes chains. The cupcake craze was sparked in 2000 by a “Sex and the City” episode in which two of the main characters chatted over gourmet cupcakes.
The 2010 debut of the Food Network show “Cupcake Wars” further fueled the single-serving dessert’s popularity. Smallcakes’ founder Martin competed during three episodes of the show.