Cupcake interview with Jamie Fahey, Owner, The Atlanta Cupcake Factory

Cupcakes from The Atlanta Cupcake Factory

Name: Jamie Fahey
Age: 40
Location: Atlanta, GA
Occupation: Owner – The Atlanta Cupcake Factory

How long have you been baking, and why did you decide to start a cupcake-only bakery?

I grew up assisting my grandmother who was an amazing home baker. My fondest childhood memories were in her pink kitchen (yes, even her refrigerator) that smelled of nutmeg, rolling out pastry dough.

The idea for a cupcake-only bakery came from my former business partner about a year ago.

When did you get the idea to start the bakery, and how soon after did you open?

I was doing gourmet dessert catering for friends and when we decided to just concentrate on the cupcakes we thought that our demographic would be the neighborhood children’s birthday parties at school. That lasted about a minute before the parents took over & now the business is 98% adult driven. I was baking out of my house until Daily Candy featured us, after that it was like being strapped to a rocket and we had to find a proper commercial kitchen fast. We found the perfect space and moved in at the end of July 2007.

You offer flavors such as banana brown sugar, chocolate Bailey’s, orange ganache, sugar cookie vanilla or chocolate, and chocolate mocha. Which is your personal favorite and which are most popular with customers?

I go back and forth between coconut and banana brown sugar. I’m asked what our most popular flavor is a lot but it’s strange because every retail day is different and I never know what’s going to sell out first.

Our daily variety box is by far the most popular special order item.

Are there any particularly Southern or Atlanta-specific flavors you offer?

Red Velvet of course! It doesn’t get any more Southern that that!

Can you tell us what’s in your Valentine’s Day gift packs?

I’m offering a 6 pack (as opposed to our usual dozen) of specially topped cupcakes available for special order.

What are your busiest times of the day/week?

For special orders it’s Wednesday through Saturday & for retail it’s Saturday although we are going to start opening on Sunday’s as well so I’m curious to see how that does.

Cupcakes from The Atlanta Cupcake Factory

Is there a typical Atlanta Cupcake Factory customer?

We seem to appeal to a more foodie type of customer. My flavors are sometimes complex and I tend to stay away from overly sweet butter cream frostings preferring the smoother texture and richness of cream cheese.

Your cupcakes were voted Best Cupcakes in Atlanta by Atlanta magazine. What sets your cupcakes apart, and what goes into a good cupcake?

I think the deepness of the flavors of both our cakes & frostings along with a beautiful visual presentation. We’ve also shown consistency with the moisture & texture of our cupcakes.

Technique, Technique, Technique!

You have an offer to create a custom cupcake flavor for customers. Have you done this before, and if so, what have you cooked up?

I do occasionally get a request for a custom flavor which is how the Lemoncello frosting was born but mostly the create-a-cupcake involves creating a unique visual presentation for the client. I love to get creative with both edible and non-edible toppers including my hand made paper toppers that I make using scrap booking materials.

You also offer catering for events. How soon in advance should someone book you, and what services do you offer? What’s been the most interesting event you’ve catered so far?

Well, it has been about 2 weeks in advance but the weddings have really taken off so if your event falls on a weekend I would recommend booking as far in advance as possible.

I can design the cakes & the entire tablescape including flowers and such. We also offer delivery and set up as well as tastings.

A few weeks ago, I did an event for Dennis Dean Catering that was themed around a vintage Parisian circus. I found pictures of extremely old European circus posters and turned them into cupcake toppers. It was really special to me because I had been carrying around that very vision for quite some time and to get a phone call requesting such an obscure idea was magical!

What would be your dream cupcake catering gig?

I recently met the director of CURE children’s cancer. They periodically take treats to the nurses that work in that department of several hospitals in the area. I’m most looking forward to becoming a part of giving back to the women and men that give so much of themselves to those very special children.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about running your bakery?

It is such a gift to be able to do what you love. This little bakery is such a happy and comforting place and to see the joy it brings to our customers is so incredible.

Least favorite is the paperwork!

Why do you think cupcakes have risen to such popularity in recent years?

I think that the world has become such a harsh place in so many ways & cupcakes bring comfort and a sense of well being to many people. You can’t help but feel loved when you hold a cupcake that someone cared enough to make special, just for you to enjoy.

Cupcake from The Atlanta Cupcake Factory

And now for some personal questions…

How often do you eat cupcakes?

At least 3 or 4 a week.

What's the best thing about eating cupcakes?

That sense of complete satisfaction when you’ve just polished off a really good one!

What's your favorite type of cupcake?

The moist ones, not too sweet and with cream cheese frosting!

How do cupcakes compare/contrast to other baked goods for you?

I’ve always loved baked goods but cupcakes are just special. I’ve never seen anyone react to any other kind of baked good as they do to a cupcake.

Is there any innovation you'd like to see made to the cupcake that would improve it for you?

A wrapper that doesn’t pop off of my lemon cupcake!

Do you bake your own cupcakes? Or (even better) have someone who bakes them for you?

These days I do more managing than baking. My head baker Rebeca is amazing!

What's your first cupcake-related memory?

Not good! I loathed cupcakes for many years because I had never had a good one! They were always grocery store dry with that nasty Crisco frosting. My grandmother didn’t make cupcakes…

What's the most fun you've ever had with a cupcake?

Now that’s getting awfully personal! My mother reads this!

Do you have anything else to add?

I want to thank you ladies for what you’re doing with this blog. You’ve touched people in many ways. I don’t know if I would have had the courage or the know-how to start the Atlanta Cupcake Factory if it had not been for the many hours I’ve spent researching through this site. THANK YOU!

Cupcake from The Atlanta Cupcake Factory