News Article Details

Sophi P. Cakes to say goodbye with a cupcake farewell flavor tour

The Advocate - 3/1/2019

March 01-- Mar. 1--Simone McCrocklin hasn't found a way to tell her daughter that Ding Dang Day -- their Thursday tradition of eating cupcakes at Sophi P. Cakes -- will soon be a thing of the past.

Although it would be difficult news to break to any child, it's especially tough for McCrocklin to tell Sophia, 8, because the third-grader has autism, a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior.

"It is such a part of our routine," McCrocklin said. "And Sophia is so routine-oriented. She knows that Thursday is Ding Dang Day, and I don't think it's going to really hit her until we just can't go anymore. I don't know what Thursday will turn into."

Jennifer Melancon, who co-owns Sophi P. Cakes with her husband, Dustin, has gently broken the news to her employees and regular customers like the McCrocklins that the bakery will be closing at the end of April.

Now, she's announcing it to the rest of Acadiana so fans of the sophisticated-to-punk cupcakes can indulge in their favorite flavors one last time.

"Sophi P. Cakes is closing," Melancon said. "But Dustin and I aren't just going to shut the doors. That's not how we do stuff. Lafayette has been so good to us. They grew us out of nothing, so we're going to give people the opportunity to say goodbye with a farewell flavor tour. We decided that we had to tell people before Mardi Gras so they don't give up sweets for Lent."

Melancon has an elaborate schedule scrawled out on a notepad indicating which flavors should be released on which dates and in what quantities:

Her husband's favorite, the Delicious D (an amaretto-infused white cake with pistachio buttercream and crushed pistachios), should be released the week of March 18 since his birthday is March 22. And only 230 of the cupcakes will be made since it requires a special order of pistachio paste.

Nearly every one of the 43 flavors ever offered at the bakery since it opened in May of 2010 will be available at some point during the next seven weeks.

Melancon's favorite, the Atomic Chocolate (chocolate cake infused with red pepper, ancho chili powder and cinnamon filled and topped with chocolate ganache and Red Hots candy), will kick off the farewell flavor tour on March 6.

"I think this will be fun and will soften the blow that we're closing," Melancon said. "Some of my employees haven't even had some of the flavors we're bringing back, and they're excited to taste them."

Melancon, 44, dreamed of opening a bakery as a little girl. She set a goal of opening a cupcake shop by the time she was 35.

It probably wouldn't have happened if she hadn't lost her job during the recession, but that setback proved to be the push she needed to open Sophi P. Cakes just before her 35th birthday.

Two recent events -- a milestone anniversary and the untimely death of a friend -- pushed Melancon to the bittersweet decision to close the bakery.

"Dustin and I have been together 20 years now, and it kind of freaked us out and made us re-evaluate," Melancon said. "That and the death of a close friend made us realize how short life is. We were going to do all this stuff -- take a train ride, skateboard in California, just travel in general -- that we never did because we got stuck in the normal rut of life."

Over the past nine years, Melancon has seen the natural progression of life through the lens of her cupcakes as she created special treats for people celebrating engagements, pregnancies and birthdays.

Sophi P. Cakes has been Susannah Craig's go-to for special occasions since she met Melancon during jury duty a few months after the bakery opened.

"There's no occasion that doesn't need a Sophi P. cupcake," Craig said. "I'm secretly mad at them because I'm going to miss it so much. I totally get it, but I don't know what we'll do now."

Craig will also miss the cupcake bakery for its generous donations to her nonprofit, Camp Bon Coeur, a summer camp for children with heart conditions.

"They've been such a big part of the community," Craig said. "And I think it's going to leave a big hole in Lafayette."

It's certainly going to leave a hole in the lives of the McCrocklins, whose weekly trips to Sophi P. Cakes started four years ago when Sophia had a bad day in kindergarten.

McCrocklin won't just miss Sophi P. Cakes for the staff's thoughtfulness in always saving a Ding Dang cupcake -- the bakery's version of the Hostess ding dong -- for her daughter every Thursday. McCrocklin, a teacher at Comeaux High School, will also miss it for the opportunity it provided to her graphic design students.

"Jennifer and Dustin allowed my students to design ads for them as a learning experience of what works and what doesn't," McCrocklin said. "They even rewarded them with a hat, a shirt and gift certificates for cupcakes."

Although the Melancons have decided to close Sophi P. Cakes, they are open to the idea of selling the bakery's name and recipes if the right offer comes along.

"We want to let the town know we've really thought about this," Melancon said. "And we know what this town did for us from the day we opened our doors."

There's plenty of time to get your cupcake fix before the Melancons close the doors on this chapter of their lives. Here's a sneak peek of classic cupcakes making a comeback during the farewell flavor tour during the final weeks of Sophi P. Cakes:

March 6

* The Berry Best (raspberry cake filled and iced with a berry-balsamic buttercream)

* Atomic Chocolate (spiced chocolate cake filled and iced with chocolate ganache with Red Hots candy on top)

* White Chocolate Razzle Dazzle (almond cake, raspberry filling and white chocolate buttercream with toasted almonds)

* Mint Chocolate Chip (mint cake with chocolate chips dunked in chocolate ganache and topped with Andes mint chips)

March 12

* Chocolate Sunshine (yellow cake filled and iced with chocolate ganache)

* Irish Dream (chocolate cake filled and iced with Irish cream chocolate buttercream, drizzled with chocolate and topped with mini chocolate chips)

* The Dude (white cake filled and iced with Kahlua buttercream)

March 19

* Delicious D (amaretto cake filled and iced with pistachio buttercream, topped with pistachios)

* Caramel Apple (yellow cake with apple filling, topped with caramel buttercream and caramel drizzle)

* Jello Pudding Pop (chocolate cake with chocolate pudding filling dunked in ganache)

March 26

* Bee's Knees (lemon cake filled and iced with clover honey buttercream and topped with crushed Lemon Heads candy)

* S'mores (chocolate cake filled with graham cracker buttercream topped with vanilla buttercream, a toasted jumbo marshmallow and chocolate-dipped graham cracker)

* Off the Wall(nuts) (yellow cake topped with toasted walnut cream cheese and toasted walnuts)

April 2

* Totally Turtle (chocolate cake filled and iced with caramel buttercream, topped with mini chocolate chips and toasted pecans)

* McLovin (yellow cake with pineapple filling topped with coconut rum buttercream and toasted coconut)

* Margarita Madness (margarita-flavored cake filled and iced with lime buttercream, topped with coarse salt and sugar)

April 9

* Carrot Cake (spiced carrot cake iced with cream cheese icing and topped with toasted walnuts)

* Tiramisu (Kahlua- and espresso-soaked white cake filled and iced with espresso- and Kahlua-buttercream, topped with cocoa powder and crushed chocolate-dipped espresso beans)

* Festival Punch (spiced rum-infused orange cake with pineapple filling, topped with coconut rum-buttercream and a cherry)

April 16

* Chocolate Covered Strawberry (chocolate cake filled with strawberry and dunked in chocolate ganache)

* Southern Belle (sweet potato cake filled and iced with spicy praline buttercream and topped with spicy pecans)

April 23

* Dirty Chai (cinnamon- and red pepper-spiced chocolate cake filled and iced with espresso- and Kahlua-buttercream and dusted with cocoa powder)

* Boston Cream Pie (yellow cake filled with Bavarian cream and dunked in ganache with a dollop of Bavarian cream on top)

Sophi P. Cakes is at 3209 Johnston St. in Lafayette. Learn more about the bakery by visiting facebook.com/SophiPCakes or calling 337-456-5582.

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(c)2019 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

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