Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Lookout Mountain residents Mike and Joy Irwin are expanding their Chattanooga Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise north of the river, building on the success of their East Brainerd location with a new store opening in Hixson mid-June.
“We see Hixson as a growing market representing a side of town very different than the one we serve now,” Mike Irwin said in relation to the East Brainerd store, Chattanooga’s first gourmet cupcakery which opened in September 2009.
Store manager Jennifer Jones said it is still the city’s only true cupcakery, or bakery which only sells cupcakes, in the Chattanooga area she is aware of. The national chain founded in Nashville by Gina Butler has new locations popping all over the country in such far-flug locales as Las Vegas, Denver, New Orleans and Greensboro, N.C.
The store’s grand opening celebration will feature VIP guests and special activities including clowns and face-painting.
All summer through the month of August, Gigi’s in Hixson will offer four cupcakes for the discounted price of $9.99, which is typically only offered during Valentine’s week and is basically the equivalent of getting one free cupcake when purchasing three.
“We wanted to give everyone a chance to try them who hasn’t gotten over to this side of town, because once they try them they will be back,” said Irwin.
At least 12 different flavors are offered every day, all made from scratch using the freshest ingredients and real granulated sugar as opposed to artificial sweeteners.
“I think the main reason [the East Brainerd store has been so successful] is the appeal,” said Irwin, whose East Brainerd location was named Franchise of the Year for setting sales records several months in a row. “In this economy in this world we’re in, I think everyone is looking for something to put a smile on their face that’s affordable.”
Gigi’s Cupcakes will open in Hixson at 5550 Highway 153, across from Target and Ruby Tuesday. The East Brainerd store is at 1906 Gunbarrel Road, Suite C, and can be reached at 468-4803.
Another reason for its popularity is the store’s use of social media.
“At one point we had the largest fanbase of any Chattanooga small business,” he said.
The store’s Facebook page regularly advertises deals, such as buy-one-get-one-free offers, that bring in customers within 15 minutes of posting, said Irwin.
Gigi’s returns the support it receives from Chattanooga in the form of donations to a multitude of charitable organizations. The store gives away cupcakes for special events, such as the building of the “Extreme Home Makeover” house, as well as regular donations to local groups including the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home and the oncology center at Children’s Hospital.
The science behind Chattanooga’s first Gigi’s cupcake flavor
Gigi’s new Cherry Limeade cupcake is the first flavor created in-store at Gigi’s Cupcakes in East Brainerd.
Stores in the national chain are permitted to create variations on the standard flavors to offer as specials and keep their selection fresh, said manager Jennifer Jones. In order to be placed on the menu, potential flavors must be submitted to Gigi’s founder Gina Butler in Nashville.
“We had some cherry cake and key lime frosting left over, and we all love Sonic’s cherry limeade and knew they would be good together,” said Jones of the science behind their flavor creation, which is topped off with sugar crystals and a decorative straw.
The mix met Butler’s high standards, and the Cherry Limeade cupcake is now a fixture on the Gigi’s spring and summer menu.
Other flavors new this season include S’mores, Banana Split, Coconut Cream Pie and Lemon Icebox.