One of the best-kept cupcake secrets resides in the Ormewood Park neighborhood of Atlanta.
Cupcakes may have declined in mainstream popularity, but they are still a thing in Atlanta, GA. One of the best I’ve found–and a best-kept neighborhood secret–is Endulge Cupcake Boutique in Ormewood Park.
Housed in a former coffee shop, co-owners Patricia Williams and Cherita Kempson made what used to be a fun hobby into a lucrative business that is expanding as we speak.
Once upon a time, cupcakes were just something that Cherita and Patricia did on the side as bakers with no professional training, just an enjoyment of baking. They met 14 years ago as educators in the Clayton County, GA public school system: Cherita, an Atlanta native, was a media specialist and Patricia, who hails from the Bronx, NY, was a school counselor. They had informal discussions about owning a business, but didn’t consider it seriously until their “practice” cupcakes literally drew lines from fellow educators in the parking lot at school.
“The people we worked with would be waiting on us, outside, asking ‘What do you have today?'” Cherita reminisced with a smile. “We would have to hide our cupcakes in the car.”
“We would try different flavors and bring them in,” Patricia added.
“People kept saying, ‘You guys should open a cupcake shop,'” Cherita continued and talked about how she and Patricia were unsure of whether or not a cupcake business is what either of them had in mind. “We were like, ehh…we want a business, but I don’t think that’s it.”
They kept practicing their craft and perfecting it, selling cupcakes on the side to an increasing fan base. Then their employment situation got wonky. “At the time, education was quite volatile in our county,” Cherita said, “so we figured that we should try something else, and so we did.”
That was four years ago, and Endulge Cupcake Boutique never looked back.
Cherita and Patricia both did all of the baking in the beginning, but have since hired bakers so that they can concentrate on growing the business. “It was hard to do all of that on a daily basis, and do everything else,” Cherita explained, “so we had to hire some people.” Still, you can find either (or both) in the shop every morning, making frosting, filling orders for their bustling catering arm, and creating the custom cupcake toppers that are one of their most popular requests.
Endulge Cupcake Boutique prides itself on using local ingredients and suppliers. They are frequent patrons of Cake Art in Tucker, GA and the Your Dekalb Farmers’ Market. “We use organic ingredients when we can and like to be conscious of the ingredients we use,” Patricia said. “Everything is all natural and made in the shop, in small batches. Everything is baked from scratch. Our caramel, our ganache–none of that stuff is store-bought.”
Weekends are the busiest times in the shop; partly because of the foot traffic from people who live in the neighborhood, and partly because of the “boozy cupcakes” that are only served Friday through Sunday. Customers can come inside to make their choices, or use the drive-thru. “It’s probably equal, the amount of traffic inside the store and in the drive-thru.” The drive-thru is very popular with parents, “so they don’t have to drag the kids out of the car,” explains Cherita, who is a married mother of two. “It helps them a lot.”
Endulge used to be open only Tuesday through Saturday, until business demanded that they open on Mondays. “We would be here on Mondays, doing work, and people would come to the door, scaring us to death,” Cherita laughed. “The lights would be off and the ‘Open” sign would be turned off, but they kept coming and calling. We finally decided we should just let it go and open on Mondays.”
“There was a big request to be open on Mondays,” Patricia chimed in. “We also decided to stay open later on the weekends, because a lot of people requested it. A lot of times, in the neighborhood, they walk down to the ice cream shop [Morelli’s Ice Cream, which is across the parking lot] and what goes good with ice cream? Cake!”
Weekends are also when the shop is filled with event attendees. “We do a lot of events and celebrations. Baby showers, weddings, bridal showers, birthday parties,” Patricia recited. “Both kid and adult birthday parties.”
Patricia mentioned that the children’s birthday parties are extremely fun and one of their most popular events. “We offer birthday parties for kids where they are taught how to decorate cupcakes, and we do a craft, and it includes pizza. Or, they have the option of renting the space and doing their own parties.”
While the store gets a lot of business, a significant bulk of Endulge’s business is outside the shop via their catering arm. “We do custom toppers and get a lot of business for that reason, because [clients] want custom-made designs for their particular celebration. They’re all hand-made, we make them with fondant…we could do whatever you like.”
Endulge has a variety of interesting flavors, including Samoa (chocolate cake, caramel and coconut buttercream frosting, drizzled with caramel and fudge icing), Tipsy Turtle (a “boozy cupcake” made with chocolate cake, buttercream frosting spiked with Bailey’s Irish Cream, and caramel filling), and the newest summer Flavor of the Month, Tropical Bliss (pineapple-infused vanilla cake with guava cream cheese icing).
They also have more mainstream flavors available every day, such as vanilla cake with vanilla icing, chocolate cake with chocolate icing, sweet potato pie, and banana pudding. The top sellers are red velvet (because: The South), salted caramel, strawberry, Key lime, and Tipsy Turtle. The Tres Leche cupcake only comes out once a year, but is one of the most popular menu items ever. “We get requests for it year round.”
In addition to the daily staples there is the Cupcake of the Day, all of which are conveniently listed on take-home fliers located by the register. Wednesdays are when you can get the Samoa and Cinnamon Toast (cinnamon-maple cake with cinnamon-maple frosting, topped with brown sugared bacon) cupcakes, while Saturdays feature the 24 Carrot cupcake (carrot, pineapple, and walnut cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting and metallic gold sprinkles). On Sundays you can get the oldie but goodie German Chocolate cupcake.
Endulge also offers mini-cupcakes in any of the offered flavors, which can only be ordered in advance. You can also order 4-inch, 6-inch, or 8-inch round cakes, and cake pops. Customers who have moved out of the area will be pleased to know that Endulge will start shipping their wares within the next two months.
Endulge Cupcake Boutique stays connected to the community by offering internships through local culinary schools and programs at Le Cordon Bleu and the culinary arts program at Atlanta Technical College. It’s a testament to the love and support they have received from the Atlanta community, and another reason why it’s one of the city’s hidden jewels. But don’t take my word for it; come on down and taste for yourself.
And while you’re in the area, you can mosey across the street and get a great cup of locally sourced coffee from Hodgepodge Coffeehouse and Gallery to wash down your cupcakes.
749 Moreland Avenue, Suite A-101 (across from Morelli’s Ice Cream), Atlanta, GA 30316
Phone: (404) 996-6995
Hours: Monday- Thursday, 11 am – 7 pm; Friday and Saturday, 11 am – 9 pm; Sundays, 2 pm – 7 pm.