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Molly’s Cupcakes opens its second Iowa bakery in NL

Molly’s Cupcake owner Jamie Smith behind the counter at the bakery’s North Liberty location.

NORTH LIBERTY– Serendipitous.
It’s a word Molly’s Cupcake’s owner Jamie Smith uses quite a bit when she talks about her journey with the bakery.
When the Manchester native first left her career in real estate, Smith applied for jobs at five different bakeries in Chicago. Molly’s was the only one who returned her phone calls. It was simply meant to be.
“It worked out great. They’re the best,” she said. “I absolutely love them.”
Smith began working in the front of the house at Molly’s Cupcakes in Chicago, but soon her role expanded to office work, doing everything from managing payroll to accounting.
“I learned not only how to run a bakery, but how to run a Molly’s,” she said.
In 2012, Smith decided to take the skills she had learned under owner John Nicolaides and open her own bakery under the Molly’s name. With his blessing, she began the process of opening up her own franchise.
But first she needed a baker.
“I was in Chicago for about six and a half years. I wanted to move to be closer to family,” said Abbie Misfeldt, the current executive pastry chef for Molly’s Cupcakes.
During this exact time, Misfeldt– another Iowa transplant in Chicago– was looking to make a move back to her home state. She learned about the available Molly’s job from her uncle and quickly contacted the store to learn more. After a working interview and a month of training, the Palo, Iowa native was back in her home state.
Again, it seemed simply meant to be.
Now Smith and Misfeldt have their hands full with the addition of Molly’s Cupcakes in North Liberty. The bakery uses a shared space with another Iowa City-based business, Yotopia. All the baking is done in the Iowa City shop, with Smith and another driver making daily deliveries each morning.
Molly’s is known for its charming and nostalgic décor. Nicolaides named the bakery after his third
grade teacher, Molly, who would bring cupcakes to students on their birthdays.
The North Liberty shop is filled with little homages to Miss Molly, with a chalkboard sign giving step-by-step instructions on how to build a cupcake, tables made out of school desks, and lunchboxes adorning the walls.
“It’s very family-orientated,” Misfeldt said. “We have swings and games and there’s just something for both older people and younger kids to do.”
”Anybody can walk in and feel like a kid again,” Smith added. “It brings you back to your childhood when all you cared about was sugar and having a treat.”
Smith herself is a lover of all things sweet. When talking about what makes Molly’s Cupcakes so special, she can’t help but smile, and when asked to name her favorite, she rattled off three different flavors.
“I just love the flavor of these cupcakes. I’ve never tasted anything like them before,” she said. “We use quality ingredients and you can tell right off the bat.”
Though the bakery’s concept and recipes remain consistent with the Chicago shop, the Iowa branch is responsible for the creation of several new flavors. These include tiramisu, eggnog and, during football season, a chocolate, caramel and peanut butter concoction named the Game Day.
Smith is often asked why she chose to open a Molly’s instead of a bakery of her own.
“I could never replicate cupcakes like these,” she admitted. “I have a business mind about me. I can bake well, but I’m not a great baker.”
Instead, she used her business background to find a model that she not only believed in, but one she knew had achieved success. The original Molly’s had been open for over five years when she came up with the idea to bring cupcakes to Eastern Iowa. When she opened the first Iowa Molly’s Cupcakes in 2012, she knew that cupcake boom was only just beginning and has since capitalized on that boom with two stores.
However, with expansion always comes additional work. Each day begins at the Iowa City location, where she and Misfeldt review all the custom for the day. Then the two load the cupcakes up for delivery to the North Liberty store.
“Having the North Liberty shop does make things more challenging, having to coordinate two stores instead of one,” Misfeldt said. “But if you plan everything out just right, everything goes smoothly.”
Smith spends the rest of her days making custom deliveries across the area, restocking baking supplies, and doing all of her necessary managerial duties like bookkeeping and scheduling her staff of 40.
“I’m pretty much all over the place, but I love it,” she said.
Molly’s Cupcakes, located at 620 Pacha Pkwy., suite 4 in North Liberty, is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. until 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.,
and Sunday noon until 9 p.m.