Satisfying Downtown Hammond’s Sweet Tooth

Downtown Hammond, America just got a little bit sweeter. Cupcake Concept has finally reopened in a new location, with a fresh look, new owner and many new and exciting features.

Hammond storefront. Photo provided by Lauren Carroll.

The new owner is Hammond resident Robin Chauvin. She worked in corporate sales on the Northshore and was a very frequent customer of Cupcake Concept. She always popped in on her way to a client just to brighten their day and give the meeting a personal touch. This past Valentine’s Day, she pulled up and noticed a sign on the door that said the store would be closing in two weeks. She asked the manager (and baker) Jennifer Cardinal about it and was told that it was closing for good.

Chauvin got in contact with the owner that night, expressed her regret and asked if she was going to try to sell it. The original owner replied that she would not be pursuing that route since she needed to “get out of it quicker than it would take to turn it over.” She had one small child, toddler triplets and was pregnant with her fifth child. That, paired with a growing and successful children’s clothing line, the cupcake business had simply been put on the back burner as there just wasn’t enough fire anymore to keep it going.

Within that same conversation, Chauvin asked the owner if she would be willing to sell it to her if she could get all of the work done within her timeframe. The owner agreed, but warned her that her time frame was 10 days, as the lease on the building was expiring.

Chauvin went back to her husband Steve, told him about the conversation, and he said he was on board if she could figure it all out. The owner sent all her information, and Chauvin looked it over with two different CPAs before the weekend. Both professionals agreed that it was a great deal and a wise investment.

Robin Chauvin with her family. (L-R) Daughter-in-law Lauren, son Hunter, Robin, husband Steve, and son Sparky. Photo provided by Lauren Carroll

By Monday, she was ready to call the bank. Since it was President’s Day, luck did not look to be in her favor as the bank was closed. However, she got in touch with the president of Florida Parishes Bank and pitched him her plans. He loved it and agreed to have her loan ready within her extremely tight time frame. That news prompted the quick work of her attorney son and daughter-in-law, Hunter and Lauren. Chauvin said, “They worked tirelessly for a few days drafting all the legal documents necessary for the business to be transferred and I definitely could not have done it without them. They were a major puzzle piece.”

She presented everything to the old owner, meeting her 10-day deadline. All that remained was to sign their names on the dotted line. Only then did they realize that they needed an attorney to witness and officiate the deal. “I searched Google for a nearby law office and there happened to be one just down the street from the Covington location with a nice woman who helped us out and got it done,” Chauvin said.

Reopening in Hammond was one of Chauvin’s biggest goals once the business was hers. She secured a location and began a buildout in the new building on Railroad Ave in downtown Hammond. Issue after obstacle popped up in both locations, but were quickly and easily resolved by the amazing contacts and support she had in both communities.

Hammond location. Photo provided by Lauren Carroll.

“The community is a big part of it and they can offer you more than you think,” Chauvin said. She emphasizes that she is not trying to be a corporate business. “Downtown Hammond allows the business to have a personality and gives us something to be a part of,” she said.

Both the Hammond and Covington locations are up and running with the help of original manager and baker, Jennifer Cardinal. Cardinal came on board in the beginning of the bakery’s life. She said that she grew up around her grandfather’s bakery as a child and began both taking and teaching baking and cake decorating classes in the late 1990s. She happened to be looking for a new job when Cupcake Concept was originating and is now the sole baker for the store.

Cardinal said that business has definitely picked up since she now bakes for two stores and fills orders for two different communities. Her day normally begins around 7:30 in the morning and it’s all cupcakes on the brain until the afternoon. First, she prepares all the orders for that day and then packs up the dozens of cupcakes that get bussed to the Hammond location. Then she prepares the cupcakes for the Covington store, and winds down by mixing batters and icings that will be needed the next day or even that afternoon.

Coming up with the dozens of flavors the store offers is fun and tests her creativity. “Some flavors are simple, but coming up with new things can be simple too. A lot of them are just variations of other things. For example, taking the coffee-inspired Mocha cupcake was easy to turn into a Caramel Frappe’ by switching out the cake and drizzling caramel on top,” Cardinal said.

Chauvin has many plans for the business. Frozen treats will be coming soon, which will add a nice complement to a cupcake at any time of the day. “We have a party room now in the Hammond store and I’m especially looking forward to planning those and hosting birthdays,” explained Chauvin. She also wants to have women’s parties where they can bring some champagne and have a sweet getaway.

Wall in the party room at the Hammond store. Photo provided by Lauren Carroll.

Kylie Bauer, an employee at Cupcake Concept for three years now, shared that one of her favorite parts of the job is working parties and field trips. “The kids are both funny and so excited each and every time,” said Bauer. “They love to ice their own cupcakes the most.” Bauer said the Hammond and Covington communities are similar in that both communities have a surprising demand for cupcakes.

Chauvin looks back on her experience so far and said, “If you’re grateful and think positively every day, you don’t even know the things that will come your way.”

Cupcake Concept already is a wonderful addition to Downtown Hammond, and it will only continue to grow. A unique, sweet treat is just what we were missing and its cupcakes fit right into the blend of our community.

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