College students are always looking for the next big thing, and every campus has their own claim to fame. The University of Virginia has The Corner, James Madison University has Jimmy Johns and the College of William and Mary has the ever-popular Wawa — although the rumors are not true, it is not the highest-grossing Wawa in the country.
However, Extraordinary Cupcakes, a new cupcake shop that recently opened on Richmond Road, is now giving Wawa muffins a run for their money. This new shop provides creative, affordable and delicious cupcakes — all within walking distance from campus, a clearly strategic position.
“It’s close enough to the College for kids to still want to come, and it’s on Richmond Road so people driving by can see it, and it’s local, but not competing with Merchant Square traffic,” Adam Steely, one of the owners, said.
Steely and wife Dyana, amateur baker and cupcake connoisseur, opened the shop Jan. 25 to a huge crowd. They have since received a lot of traffic, often running out of certain varieties of cupcake before the end of the business day.
The Steelys lead a busy life in Williamsburg, not only owning and managing the shop but also working second jobs. Dyana is a sixth-grade earth science teacher at Hornsby Middle School and Adam is the general manager of the Blue Talon Bistro. Both have long been active members of the Williamsburg community and they started the shop because of his business skills and her passion for cake.
“Her [Dyana’s] favorite food is cake, any flavor of it,” Steely said. “And there are so few places in Williamsburg that make any kind of cake. After four years of thinking about it, we finally saw the opportunity and decided to try it.”
Bright blue walls catch the patron’s attention upon entering the store and a row of stands with upside-down glass beakers showcase the daily featured cupcakes on a table at the front of the store. Looking over the shop is an enormous scene of a peacock stretching across the entire wall behind the front desk, with numerous cupcakes sitting on the platforms of the giant rotating circle that frames it.
A list of the flavors, painted in scrawling silver script in a very inviting mural of colors and forms, greets customers. The artist is a personal friend of the Steelys named Happy the Artist, whose work can be seen all over the Richmond area in restaurants, banks, schools and numerous other places.
“The shop is so pretty. I love the colors and decorations inside — it’s a pretty small space, but the decor is so classy and inviting you do not even notice,” Briana List ’15 said. “The location is really convenient for a quick treat on your way to or from the grocery store, but just far enough that you aren’t tempted to go all the time.”
Extraordinary Cupcakes features different cupcakes on a rotating schedule.
“We have 12 flavors that rotate in and out, that we make from scratch,” Steely said. “The 12 we chose came from flavors that we most wanted to include or got the best feedback about from friends or family. We have incarnations of chocolate, adding salt to caramel, coconut creme and maple bacon cupcakes.”
The cupcakes come in a variety of flavors and unite unexpected tastes. These popular options frequently sell out by early afternoon.
“Eating the cupcakes is a magical experience,” Naomi Slack ’15 said. “They’re well-done, in both presentation and taste. If you’re lucky enough to catch the cupcakes they’ve just put out when they’re still a bit warm, they take on a whole new level of deliciousness.”
According to the owners, the shop aims to ultimately bring the community together over a love of sweets, from students to local families. It has already proved to be a popular hangout spot for students, with large groups of friends planning cupcake excursions.
“Hopefully, rather than being creative or new, we want to echo what we, and people in general, love about cake,” Steely said. “We want the moment you come in to be an escape that takes you to a happy place. Cupcakes are not supposed to be stressful or high maintenance.”