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VOL. 127 | NO. 45 | Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Work Begins On Cupcake, Wine Shop

By Andy Meek

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Work is moving forward on a concept that’s been in the works for at least two years that would bring a cupcake and wine shop to Downtown’s South Main Historic Arts District.

Archer Custom Builders has filed a $125,077 building permit application for the shop’s property at 314 S. Main St., according to The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com.

Neil Armstrong, the property’s owner, also confirmed the project is moving forward.

He has not settled on a name yet for the cupcake and wine concept. It was originally to be called Red Velvet, with a tagline that promised “sophisticated and decadent” treats for anyone with a sweet tooth. Armstrong is considering Carrot as a new name, inspired by his love of the song “Carrot Cake and Wine” by the English rock group The Stereophonics.

“I’m not finalized on the name Carrot yet,” Armstrong said. “It’s just the latest name I’ve used for what is still the same concept. I’ve got to get the façade built out, and I’ve now got a contractor hired and that sort of thing.

“There’s going to be some pretty cool things happening with the façade, but it’s going to take a few months to get all the pieces built out.”

Plans submitted to one of the affiliate boards of the Downtown Memphis Commission in late 2010 showed such touches as a basement that would be available to host private events. Guests would enjoy selections from a menu like the “velvet and cream” (raspberry red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting) and the “not-so-shy” (French chocolate cake with milk chocolate ganache).

The owners told the Downtown agency they envisioned the business becoming sought out “for getting cupcakes after work to bring home to the family, getting a glass of wine expertly paired with a cupcake, planning a surprise celebration in our private area or getting an event catered with our sophisticated and decadent cupcakes.”

Armstrong’s plan got derailed when the chain Gigi’s Cupcakes threatened legal action, alleging that someone involved with the shop would be in violation of a non-compete agreement if the shop went forward. Armstrong said that agreement has expired and that there should be no issue now.

A development loan the Center City Development Corp. awarded to the shop in late 2010 is still valid, according to DMC president Paul Morris. He added Armstrong has been moving forward “slowly but surely.”

Armstrong doesn’t have an exact idea of when he envisions the shop opening. He estimates several more months, at the earliest.

“This is exactly what I wanted to do. Same exact business plan,” he said. “If it opens up in less than six months, I think I’d be doing well.”

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