But the sales boost didn’t come out of nowhere. The night before, Doyle and her assistant, Erin Chupp-Sintos, beat out three other bakers from around the country and won a $10,000 prize on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.”
“We really had to push the envelope in the final round,” Doyle said. The two won the final round of 1,000 cupcakes with four original recipes: a pistachio/white chocolate cupcake with pistachio/pesto filling and rose water meringue icing; a margarita cupcake with strawberry/jalapeno coulee filling and key lime buttercream icing; an eclair/cinnamon cupcake with pastry-cream filling and Nutella buttercream icing; and a cannoli chocolate cupcake with tangerine ricotta filling and chocolate ganache icing and a carmelized tangerine and tuile cookie garnish.
On Sunday night, the bakers watched the episode with a capacity crowd at the Strand.
“We were overwhelmed with the amount of support from the community,” Doyle said. “People went crazy when we won — it was amazing.” Her regular customers had encouraged her to apply for the competition, she said.
But success didn’t come easy. Doyle, her brother and co-owner, Ross Doyle, and Chupp-Sintos say they frequently work 80 hours a week, including Sundays, when the bakery is closed to the public but open for birthday parties, baby and bridal showers.
Doyle declined to disclose the bakery’s annual revenues, but estimated that she sold between 90,000 and 95,000 cupcakes in 2011. Most cupcakes in the bakery sell for $3 each, but the “Cupcake Wars” flavors are $4 each.
Doyle said she will invest her winnings into the business, possibly for the purchase of a second professional oven, which can cost about $5,000.
With her current oven, she can only bake 100 cupcakes at a time.
The Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta brought Mamie Doyle to the South from her native Michigan. She was a college art major when she started working in a local bakery famous for its wedding cakes. She instantly fell in love with cake decorating and knew she wanted to become a pastry chef.
After culinary school, she began an internship in August 2009 at the current bakery, which was under a different name and only in business for a few months. It was already for sale when she arrived on the scene, and two months later, with financial backing from her parents, Doyle took ownership. With construction and painting assistance from the entire family, she and her family transformed the 1,100-square-foot space into what it is today. Ross joined her four months later and took over the business side so she could focus on baking.
Doyle said she learned some valuable lessons about running a business from her brief internship.
“We bake fresh cupcakes every day and never sell a day-old cupcake. We use nothing artificial and all high-end ingredients, like real butter,” she said. “Even with a down economy, people still want to spoil themselves a little, and one gourmet cupcake is an affordable way to do it. We have regulars who come in after a yoga class for their once-a-week treat.”