Thursday, February 27, 2014

How sweet it is at The Cupcake Zoo

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Southwest Michigan's Second Wave Media
February 27, 2014

Lindsey Pimpileo and Cupcake (Photo by Erik Holladay)

Lindsey Pompileo caught the cupcake food trend right in time. Now her business, The Cupcake Zoo, is rising like heated batter in the oven. Zinta Aistars reports on how it all came to be.

Photo by Erik Holladay
When Lindsey Pompileo was a girl, she didn't have an Easy-Bake Oven. She didn’t want one. She wasn’t interested in baking, and as she grew up, the running joke among family and friends was that Pompileo burned everything in the kitchen. 

Today, all Pompileo has to do is post a photo of her newest cupcake on the website of The Cupcake Zoo or its Facebook page, and her baked treats disappear from the shelf within hours. With an average of 10,000 "likes" and "shares" of cupcake photos on Facebook per week, her business page has been closed down more than once for "suspicious activity."

Pompileo smiles. "That happened three times this month. Facebook doesn’t seem to know what to do with that much activity."

She knows what to do. She goes back to baking. 

Pompileo’s original store is located at 110 N. Farmer St. in her native Otsego, where she opened for business in 2010, but she is planning to open a much-anticipated second location at 117 E. South St. in Kalamazoo (Michigan) in early spring. 

Her inspiration? "I suppose it was being around so many amazing chefs among the Millennium Group." 

Pompileo ponders the turn in her path from non-baker to star baker. She worked as a server and bartender in some of the restaurants owned by the Millennium Restaurant Group for many years, rubbing elbows with top chefs, absorbing culinary knowledge, and developing a palate for quality foods. 

"I developed an obsession for good food," she says. "Especially pastries."

Pompileo baked cupcakes and other sweet treats in her home, but it wasn’t until life slammed her to the wall that she considered turning her new passion into a career. Her fork in the road opened on a Valentine’s Day that was anything but sweet ...


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