Is TPC the Sweetest Spot in OTO?
The Perfect Circle, cleverly named for the shape of its product, is quite possibly the sweetest spot in all of Old Towne Orange. What’s that I hear? A rumble of dissent at my proclamation? Well, now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you all I learned in my interview with TPC’s owner and founder, Alyssa.
First, I’m going to lay some of my opinions and my perceptions on the table. You should know that I am a cupcake lover, always have been. I’ll take a cupcake over a piece of cake ANY day. I am totally IN to the whole cupcakery trend and I will eat a cupcake from TPC any day over a cupcake from Sprinkles (but I like their cupcakes too, I just happen to like TPCs better – I’m really not that choosy when it comes to cupcakes people). That being said, when my mom told me that a cupcake shop was coming to OTO, I was ecstatic and I patiently waited for them to open, peeking in to their store front every time I walked by.
Now that’s my opinion, here’s my perception. Like many of you who have commented (even complained) about a variety of things you ‘don’t’ like about TPC, I too thought it was curious that for the many times I’d been in to TPC, I’d never seen or met Alyssa myself. The couple of times I’d asked for her to come out and say hello, I’d been told she was too busy, which left me with the ‘perception’ that she wasn’t interested in being the public face of the company. So, that was my perception, but I still went back for the delish treats. More on this later…
I actually want to start with Alyssa Jean’s story because I feel like it’s good to know someone’s story who’s made the decision to open up a storefront and sell a product. Alyssa has lived in Old Towne Orange since she was 14, she was married here, her daughters (15 & 12) were raised here and even went to St. John’s. It’s safe to say that she is tied to this town and she loves it. She and her husband Joe own the business together, but it’s her baby.
Here’s how it all started. Alyssa loves sweets, baking them and eating them, she will seriously eat cupcakes for breakfast. She went into Sprinkles one day and thought to herself…I could do this and OTO needs a sweet little spot that sells cupcakes and that’s how the dream began. It took her exactly 1 year to develop the recipe (tweaking, tweaking and more tweaking) for her cupcakes and once she opened, it’s taken her about as long to take the brand national (ie. Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, which she didn’t win, but hey, who cares!).
I can tell you that she bakes her cupcakes fresh EVERY day, down to the frosting. And when they sell out, they sell out. Many of you have experienced going down to The Perfect Circle only to find they have closed up shop, fresh run out of cupcakes, and have sadly pouted home. This has been one of the kinks she’s been working on since she opened. They are now at a place where they rarely have to close early and are more often open a little late to sell off the last of the goodies. Many of you have wondered, myself included, how does she stay in business just selling cupcakes in Old Towne Orange? Well, the answer to that question is that she’s got a back end to the business: events and clients. She does events all the time, both offsite and onsite. She’s also got lots of corporate clients, like Disneyland.
When we met, I had to ask her about the inspiration behind the decor, which is obviously Tiffany-inspired. It was a cute story, so I’m sharing. She and her husband took a trip to get ‘inspired’ by the bakeries galore in the Big Apple. Instead, they found small tight spaces that did not inspire them at all. With her excitement waning, she decided to take a break, went in to Tiffany’s for a ‘browse’ and the rest was history! She had her paint custom mixed to match that Tiffany blue.
A few quick questions…
How do you stay so thin? She wondered the same because she doesn’t have a workout regimen and she DOES eat the cupcakes…must be the high energy and speedy metabolism. Lucky gal…
What’s your favorite flavor? Vanilla on Vanilla, aka The Princess Vanilla
What’s the secret ingredient? It’s all about the BUTTER!!
Hiring? She’s staffed with college students and is good for now, but submit your resume!
How many cupcakes do you sell per day? That, she wouldn’t tell me…
What’s the story behind the Sweet Joe? Named after her father-in-law because it’s his favorite.
What flavors do you have every day? Chocolate, Vanilla, Red Velvet, Lemon, Banana, Coconut and a variety of daily specials.
Describe your experience on Cupcake Wars? In one word ‘nerve-wracking.’
Who’s got the recipe? Only Alyssa and her head baker, James.
What does the future hold for this cupcakery? Well, there’s a possible TPC on Wheels in the works, so we can get our street sweet on! Or perhaps another TPC location.
A few final notes. First, I asked her about the whole ‘why don’t you ever come out and greet people’ perception and she said that she comes out all the time and meets people, especially if she knows you. She did admit that if she doesn’t know the people asking, she may not always come out. Reason being is that she’s running the business in the back and is likely in the middle of baking or something she just can’t get away from. It’s definitely that she’s working, not hiding!
The other big set of comments I’ve seen is the question of whether she’s baking the cupcakes onsite. Many people have made comments about the place not smelling like a bakery. When I met with her – in the store – I smelled those sweet treats the moment I walked in, so I’ve no idea what people are talking about. I did ask her if she baked her cupcakes onsite and she assured me that she did, it smelled as if she did, but she didn’t let me go back there, hmmmm…..however I believed her.
One final mention is their Camp Cupcake. I happened to walk in to a party one day and I must say it was adorable and the girls were having great fun. You can have a party right there in the store and get 4 cupcakes each to frost, decorate and share, watch a movie, have a beverage and snack on a candy buffet. Sounds and looked like a pretty good time to me. You can contact them at email@example.com for more info on that.
So, is TPC the sweetest spot in OTO? Well, you’ll definitely need to head down there to decide for yourself. But if you ask me, when it comes to cupcakes, they take the cake!!
Hours are: 11-7 weekdays; 11-8 Saturday; and 12-5 Sunday; closed Monday’s
The Perfect Circle is located at 165 N. Glassell Street in Old Towne Orange