Fairhaven's Katie's Cupcakes to close retail store; new bakery will move in this summer

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 14, 2014 

One of Bellingham's cupcake shops is closing to focus on its line of children's books, but another bakery will take its place.

Co-owners Katie and Neal Swanson have decided to close the retail portion of Katie's Cupcakes in Fairhaven on Saturday, July 12, with the final day for special orders on July 10.

Fairhaven won't be without cupcakes for long, however. That retail portion of the business was sold to Renae Cory, who will reopen the space at 1005 Harris Ave. as Mad Batter Cupcakes and Confections. Cory is aiming to have Mad Batter open around July 18.

Neal Swanson said they made the decision to let another bakery take over the space so they could concentrate on publishing the children's books. They currently have two books published about cupcakes coming to life each night, with a third book expected to be ready in early September. While they enjoyed the baking part of the business, Neal said they've really had the most fun lately with the books, going on tours and reading to kids.

The reason the Swansons were able to get into children's books was the $10,000 prize they won on the Food Network television show "Cupcake Wars" in 2012. Participants faced a variety of challenges while making elaborate cupcakes to impress the judges.

"It's been quite a wild ride," Neal said. "Every year has been so memorable for us."

In the final weeks before closing, Katie's Cupcakes plans to bake many of the old favorites, including the recipes used on the show. Over the years the salted caramel cupcake has consistently been the most popular, so it will make regular appearances at the shop.

While the cupcake shop has evolved over the years, Neal said the focus has been with the children, or touching the child within the adult.

"Changing a bad day for someone with a cupcake, that was the ultimate experience for us," he said.

For Neal, a vivid memory about Katie's Cupcakes was the first day of business on St. Patrick's Day 2009, when they kicked things off with Guinness chocolate cupcakes. They had a long line of people waiting when they opened the door. It's still the busiest day in the store's history, and something they didn't anticipate, having been relatively new to the community.

"We're just so grateful for the support we've received over the years," he said.

When Mad Batter opens, Cory plans to have her own brand of whimsy and remain geared toward children, given that the business name is a tip to "Alice in Wonderland." She plans on starting with cupcakes and cookies, as well as offering espresso and possibly a line of cupcakes for dogs, which are frequent visitors to Fairhaven. Mad Batter will be open seven days a week in July and August and be open later in the evening.

Cory and her husband, Jason, both grew up in Whatcom County and together have about four decades of restaurant experience. Renae has spent some time with Katie Swanson, getting tips on how that spot has worked.

For updates on Mad Batter or Katie's Cupcakes, check out their Facebook pages.

COPPER HOG TO OPEN BEER GARDEN

Later this month Copper Hog owner Aaron Matson plans on opening the Schweinhaus Biergarten, a German-style beer garden that's across the street from the pub.

For quite some time Matson has tried to figure out what to do with the property on the East Magnolia Street and North State Street intersection that was a formerly a drive-through coffee stand. He started thinking about the growing popularity of German beer and noticed the tiny building has a bit of Bavarian architecture to it, so he moved ahead with his plans.

It will have outdoor seating and can handle about 150 customers. He said he plans to make it as authentic as possible, serving beer in liters and cooking up a variety of German-style sausages as well as sauerkraut. Some of the German beer will have a local tie, coming from Chuckanut Brewery.

Matson said he thinks the beer garden helps bridge a gap in establishments, with it being between the Copper Hog and Aslan Brewing Company.

Detail on an exact opening date for the beer garden can be found on the Copper Hog's Facebook page.

OTHER TIDBITS

-- Rock and Rye Oyster House is planning to be open to the public starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, at The Herald Building on 1155 N. State St., with a grand opening scheduled for Tuesday, July 1. The restaurant/bar will offer a full dinner menu of oysters, seafood and other items, a family-friendly area and a full bar. The oyster house will seat about 130 and has a mezzanine and outdoor patio.

-- A Woolies store is also scheduled to open this week on the first floor of The Herald Building at 1155 N. State St. The store focuses on women's clothing.

-- Forte Chocolates has opened a new store in Fairhaven, near Avenue Bread, at 1139 11th St. The shop is operated by Karen Neugebauer, who has two shops in Mount Vernon. Items include European truffles, chocolate bars and a wide variety of caramels. According to its Facebook page, the company started in September 2006 and has won a bevy of international and domestic awards.

-- A tenant improvement permit was submitted at 1501 N. State St. for a self-serve dog wash and retail store called Shake & Shine.

-- A tenant improvement permit was also submitted for Melange Spa & Electrolysis to go into the former Aisling Eyewear space at 1105 McKenzie Ave. in Fairhaven.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Business Blog at bellinghamherald.com/business-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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