I'd never thought much about cupcakes until one day about five years ago when I walked past a bright, extremely cheerful new storefront in Needham Center. I had just finished a visit with former coworkers at a medical journal on Pickering Street that I'd worked at for several years, and was seeking an afternoon snack. The minute I stepped in, I knew I'd found something special. Treat Cupcake Bar opened its doors in July 2010, and I wrote a review in August Getting Tipsy at the Bar. At that time until now, I marvel how their vegan gluten-free cupcakes (made with flaxseed and chick pea flour) taste moister and more delicious than their regular cupcakes. Their build-your-own cupcake remains a popular choice for cupcake lovers of all ages.
So what's new? For one, it has survived the invasion of cupcakeries—more than a dozen in the Boston area—to open a second location at The Street Chestnut Hill. In addition, the original Needham location has expanded by purchasing the adjacent space (previously Swizzles frozen yogurt), preserving the froyo concept but renaming it The Dessert Workshop.
Last week I chatted with Sarah Waters, the marketing and events manager at Treat. She shared an update on this successful community-centered business.
Q: Since you opened in July 2010, how is business?
A: Business is an adventure. Running three storefronts is an interesting way to connect with the community and to learn the pulse of a neighborhood. What makes it fun is meeting the families and being a very sweet part of their milestones. We have had the honor of having first dates and proposals, as well as creating custom wedding cupcakes and then baby shower cupcakes for the same families!
Q: It seems that so many cupcakeries have opened in the Boston area...do you feel this is a very competitive business? What makes Treat unique from other cupcake stores?
A: Having a cupcakery is a competitive business to be in for sure. What makes us unique is we care deeply about our community so we listen closely to what our customers want from us. This is what helps us evolve and stay present.
Q: What is your top selling cupcake flavor?
A: Love this question but sometimes it is hard to answer! If I had to really choose I have to choose the Sprinkle Me Silly cupcake, which is a confetti cake with our classic buttercream and sprinkles. But, my cupcake of choice is the Chocolate Surprise...a gold cupcake filled with fudge and swirled with cream cheese frosting.
Q: Some of my friends especially love Treat because they serve allergen-free cupcakes. Are these a big seller for you?
A: Our Gluten Free / Dairy Free / Egg Free / Vegan options are absolutely flying! They are the fastest growing part of our business. And we have expanded our Gluten Free options to include muffins, loaves and meringue cookies!
Q: It was a bold move to add a frozen yogurt shop to the mix (especially when the previous owners were struggling). But it looks fantastic! Has it enhanced the cupcake store?
A: Thanks for asking about The Dessert Workshop. The addition of the shop gives our customers the option to have soft-serve ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt or even vegan sorbets in a cup or added to a cupcake. It's a way to increase the creativity at Treat and we are enjoying the new addition.
Q: How about offering a frequent cupcake buyer card (say, buy 12 get 1 free) for cupcake fanatics like me?
A: Great idea! We'll have to give this some thought!
Treat Cupcake Bar is located at 1450 Highland Avenue, Needham, and at 40 Boylston Street, THE STREET, Chestnut Hill, MA.