The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday August 12th

Bliss Boutique Bakery sweetens expansion

Mike Taylor, an owner and co-founder of Bliss Boutique Bakery on Franklin St. DTH/Chessa Rich
Buy Photos Mike Taylor, an owner and co-founder of Bliss Boutique Bakery on Franklin St. DTH/Chessa Rich

Hidden in a nook of rustic brick buildings on West Franklin Street with a lingering scent of baked sweets, Bliss Boutique Bakery offers a modern frosting touch.

While cupcakes are the signature of Bliss, the store will expand the business by launching new product campaigns this fall.

“The concept of Bliss is more than just cupcakes. Although, the cupcake represents a large part of what we are about,” said Dennis Steigerwalt, the store’s strategy adviser and business partner. “Bliss is about many things: most importantly, the feeling our customers get from our brand.”

But owner Mike Taylor said cupcakes are still the heart of the store. A regular gourmet cupcake costs $2.50.

“I think there is just so much possibility with the cupcake concept, especially from a decorative and flavor standpoint,” he said.

A few years after Taylor helped Steigerwalt set up CoCo’s Cupcake Cafe in Pittsburgh, Pa., the two wanted to expand the business model.

Chapel Hill was decided upon for the location.

“I know how much people in the South appreciate a good sweet, so I thought a place like this would be perfect for Chapel Hill,” Taylor said.

The store opened on Jan. 31, 2008, only few days shy of competitor Sugarland’s one-year anniversary, which left many unaware of its existence.

“The timing with the opening indicates we didn’t have the chance to capture people’s attention before leaving for the summer and whatnot, so we’re excited for things to start happening in the fall — for exposure, for the word to get out,” Taylor said.

But Katrina Ryan, co-owner of Sugarland, is not taking a bite out of the cupcake concept.

“You never like to hear about a competitor, but having seen how our business has gone, I couldn’t imagine how they could make a living selling nothing but cupcakes,” she said.

“If you’re going to do something very ‘high concepty’ and only do one thing, I think you need a million people around so on any given day you’ve got enough customers who want the only thing that you’re offering.”

Aside from cupcakes, Bliss now is diversifying to offer personalized tarts, brownies and cookies. The new campaign will advertise these products with new flavors, Taylor said.

“The new offerings we’re making available this fall will continue to expand on our focus of making a premium product, just like our cupcakes Chapel Hill has come to love,” Steigerwalt said.

Taylor said despite location and timing issues, business is thriving.

“Cupcakes are timeless,” Steigerwalt said. “My involvement revolves around the simple philosophy of spreading bliss — the name is no accident — to the community around us.”


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