This marks the first full week of Whipped in its new downtown Lansing location. Owner/operator Randy Umfleet opened in the 2,285-square-foot space next to Summit Comics and Games Thursday. This is the third move Umfleet’s made with the business since he bought it in 2012, and he hopes this will be its permanent home.
“In the first three days I was open last week, I made more than I did in an entire month at my Old Town location,” Umfleet said. “It didn’t take long for people to find me.”
Whipped was originally a DeWitt bakery, but Umfleet moved it to Old Town adjacent to the former Creole Gallery in 2014 to increase foot traffic. One year later, his lease was bought out when the building’s new owner, Jamie Schriner-Hooper, decided to move forward with her husband’s company’s Cajun restaurant concept, the Creole, which opened in the Creole Gallery’s old space last fall. Its conjoined twin, Creole Coffee Co., a New Orleans-themed breakfast place, took over Whipped’s storefront a few months later. Umfleet called the move “friendly.”
He then put his equipment in storage, moved his base of operations to Roma Bakery and entered negotiations to buy the 47-year-old bakery from owners Mena and Sostine Castriciano. But that deal fell through earlier this year.
“Mena and Solstine are probably the nicest two people ever, but it wasn’t a good fit,” Umfleet said. “I’m grateful they helped me keep Whipped (operating). I don’t think the business would have survived without that move.”
Umfleet specializes in wedding cakes topped with his signature butter cream frosting, but the bulk of his business comes from retail grab-and-go pastries. He’s committed to creating one new cupcake flavor a month, with recent hits including white Russian (made with actual vodka and coffee liqueur made at nearby distillery American Fifth Spirits), key lime and pistachio.
“The cupcakes and cookies were just extra, but now that has built a solid client base,” Umfleet said. “It’s all about simplicity. It just has to look fantastic, and to taste as good as it looks. That’s it.”
Before Umfleet started his game of musical storefronts, he provided guidance to up-and-coming pastry chef Katie Clark. For the last seven years, she’s been operating her business, Nom Nom Cupcakes, under Michigan’s Cottage Food Law, which allows her to sell goods cooked in her home kitchen. This week, she takes a big step forward with her first retail space inside Lansing City Market.
“I definitely want to own a brick-and-mortar location in Lansing eventually, but right now I’m just enjoying this new space,” Clark said.
When Clark first had the idea of being a commercial baker in 2009, she called up every cooking school she could find to see what books they used in their classes. Then she bought as many as she could, read them coverto-cover, and slowly began accumulating the equipment each recipe called for. Then it was just a matter of connecting with customers.
“Everything was built on word of mouth,” Clark said. “I used to have my customers meet me in coffee shops to pick up their orders, and other people would see the boxes, lean in and ask what it was. I got so many new customers that way.”
Clark said her top selling cupcake flavor is blue moon. “It tastes just like the ice cream flavor,” she said. She uses coffee from Strange Matter Coffee Co. in her recipes, as well as IPA beer from Ellison Brewery + Spirits and bacon from Meat Southern BBQ and Carnivore Cuisine. Besides cupcakes, Clark also makes muffins, cookies, fruit tortes and tarts. She’s also teaching herself how to make bread.
Meanwhile, on the western edges of Old Town’s retail district, Scoops Ice Cream in Old Town moved into the space most recently occupied by Artie’s Filling Station.
The name is almost as big as the business itself; business partners Rico Lewis and Linda Baughman took over the 260-square-foot former Sinclair Oil station that was historically restored by preservationist Dale Schrader. The space had been empty for over two years before Lewis opened under decidedly auspicious circumstances last month.
“Opening day we were shoveling snow,” he said. “We still had 120 people come out, so that was good.”
Scoops features hand-packed ice cream from the MSU Dairy Store and Hudsonville Ice Cream. Right now it’s just served in cone form, but Lewis said sundaes, milkshakes and other offerings are in the works. Also coming soon: hot food, including hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza and walking tacos.
“I’d like to be able to keep going through the winter with soups and sandwiches, too,” Lewis said. “But I want to get a good feel for the neighborhood, find out what people want first. I want people to have their birthday parties here, start their city bike tours here, have their running groups leave from here. I want this to be an event-oriented business that’s tied to the community.”
Whipped 216 S. Washington Ave., Lansing 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday (517) 483-2653, whippedbakerylansing.com
Scoops Ice Cream in Old Town 127 W. Grand River Ave., Lansing 2-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Nom Nom Cupcakes 325 City Market Drive, Lansing (inside Lansing City Market) 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday (517) 898-6734, nomnomcupcakes.com