It might be the sweet scent of moist cake and rich icing, or the happy customers nursing their sugar highs, but it’s hard not to feel like a kid in a candy store as you’re handed a Vanilla Dream, a Red Velvet, or a Snowcap cupcake. Add a free shot of whipped cream inserted into the middle, and it’s like Christmas.
The basic recipes were snatched from Google and redefined, but that’s not the point. At Hey Cupcake! it’s all about the cupcake experience. The fifties silver Airstream is vintage, and the cupcakes are innocent. You’re meant to leave with a whiff of nostalgia if nothing else. “It’s more of a mind-set than a cupcake. It’s fun and anything goes,” says Wes Hurt, chief executive officer of Hey Cupcake! “When people come, I want them to be able to talk candidly and say, ‘I’m having a bad day and that’s why I need a cupcake.’ That happens all the time. People really open up.”
The 31-year old Austin native calls himself a serial entrepreneur. “I had a million ideas, and they all failed. I wanted to keep going and find something that worked—and I wasn’t going to stop,” Hurt explains. After experiencing the famous Magnolia cupcake in New York in 2006, he wasted no time opening a small stand on the University of Texas campus. It failed miserably. “We had no cupcakes two weeks before we opened. No recipes or anything. We did everything backward.”
Hurt and his team went back to ground zero. They decided to stick with the stand idea but realized another location would work better. They moved to trendy South Congress, which has a lot of foot traffic, and watched the business grow. A Hey Cupcake! retail store opened in 2008, and there are more in the works. With a staff of fifteen friends and others who have come along for the ride, Hurt has high hopes for the future. “We feel our concept is recession proof. We have a product that is not that expensive, but it’s a treat.” Certainly everyone needs a little pick-me-up from time to time. And that’s what it is all about at Hey Cupcake! “We want you to have an awesome experience and a pretty stinking good cupcake.” www.heycupcake.com