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The Sunday read — the real story behind the dethroning of Cupcake King

The Brooklyn Paper

The King of Cupcakes is dead — but the epic fight over the demise of the popular Park Slope shop wages on.

The failure of the fledgling business is a cautionary tale of buttercream and bitterness, pitting soon-to-be-married bakers Megan Kerrigan and Sean Rich against the far more established Ricky’s NYC cosmetics and costume chain.

Kerrigan and Rich opened their mom-and-soon-to-be-pop bakery on Seventh Avenue five months ago in partnership with Ricky’s NYC — a deal that called for the couple to make cupcakes for sale at the shop and at kiosks inside every Ricky’s location. Ricky’s would own 51 percent of the company, and in return provided the storefront and promotional help.

But the arrangement ended on St. Patrick’s Day, when Ricky’s padlocked the shop with no warning. Kerrigan and Rich say that their shop flopped because Ricky’s failed to provide enough promption or install the kiosks to sell the treats.

“They’re millionaires and we have nothing,” said Kerrigan.

Ricky’s honchos contend that the bakery flopped because the newbie owners ran the place like the amateurs they are.

“You can’t do good business with bad people,” said Ricky’s founder Todd Kenig.

In the beginning, of course, it looked like this fairy tale would have a happy ending. Kerrigan and Rich burst onto the baked good scene after The New York Observer wrote up their cupcake cart in Manhattan. Within days, a Ricky’s realty honcho named Adam called Kerrigan to make his pitch.

“His exact words were, ‘Today is your lucky day. We’re gonna make your dreams come true,’ ” she said. Both parties signed a contract and the shop opened near Fourth Street in late October, in the midst of the borough’s roaring cupcake craze.

The couple worked long hours to make their unconventional banana peanut butter and jelly sandwich or pumpkin cannoli cupcakes. They even appeared on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars,” but the shop couldn’t generate enough cash to stay alive. Kerrigan and Rich blame the “weak” promotional effort by Ricky’s.

Foodies from the neighborhood had their own theories about the demise, calling the cakes “dry” and “oily” on Yelp.com. Dan Myers, who tends to write business-positive stories for the blog Here’s Park Slope also noted, “The staff’s lack of training was painfully apparent to most customers.”

A Ricky’s spokesman declined to talk about the failed business and would not answer questions about the contractual agreement.

Kerrigan is more vocal, saying that Ricky’s took advantage of her and Rich, working them to the bone without the support it promised.

“We had a dream,” she said, adding her Marine Park house is in foreclosure. “Now we’re broke.”

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Reader Feedback

Steve from Park Slope says:
We walked into and out of that store several times without ever buying anything because the prices were ridiculous. Who knows if the cupcakes were delicious or not. The prices left a bad taste in my mouth.
April 10, 2011, 8:47 am
Brian from Park Slope says:
Ricky's did respond to Park Slope Patch a few weeks ago when this story first broke. Their comments were CRAZY.

http://parkslope.patch.com/articles/a-cupcake-war-at-king-of-cupcakes

“The team in place had no experience in running a business and they were running it into the red every month,” Ricky’s NYC said in a statement. “We needed to stop the bleeding ASAP.”

“There is a saying that you can’t do good business with bad people,” the statement continued.
April 10, 2011, 9:10 am
Steven Rosenberg from ParkSlope says:
I only noticed the place about two weeks ago. Strike One: Cupcakes are intrinsically feminine; calling the place "King" aint good.
April 10, 2011, 10:39 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
"The team in place had no experience in running a business," so Ricky's set them up running a business?

Huh? Why would a beauty-products retailer get into the cupcake business with people who "had no experience in running a business?"
April 10, 2011, 1:30 pm
Calvin from Park Slope says:
HELL-O their prices were exactly the same as Sweet Melissa, Ladybird and Crumbs - have any of you people from Park Slope ever BEEN to Park Slope?? Y'know the neighborhood with the overpriced rent, snobby boutiques and overpriced everything? What were you expecting a dollar store?
April 10, 2011, 7:06 pm
Cynthia from Clinton Hill says:
Whats the big deal now days? its just a small piece of cake. cake in cup,why does it have to be so friggen overpriced.
April 11, 2011, 1:51 am
WHao from NYC says:
They couldnt run a business. Excuses excuses. Running a kitchen/bakery takes years to master. Yeah they sucked. But in their defense, if you (Rickys) are going to bring on a a small retailer, you need to give them a chance. Not shutter the place in a few days. Thats not a partnership. I think it was a bad idea to have cupcakes to begin with, something they regretted, and once they say these bakers floundering, the just said 'the hell with it'.
April 11, 2011, 10:25 am
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Cupcakes are so gay...
April 11, 2011, 10:38 am
Sally from Park Slope says:
I was always worried that there would be hair clippings in my cupcake from the Ricky's hair salon.
April 11, 2011, 10:46 am
Jessi from Cobble Hill says:
I'm so bummed - those cupcakes were amazing! The red velvet and the rainbow cookie cupcakes were my favorite!
April 11, 2011, 4:18 pm
No excuses from Park Slope says:
Call yourself a name like "king" of anything and one's expectations are elevated.

I did visit this place. It's what I do. I own a business in Park Slope. I never, ever wish another business failure. I want them to do well. It challenges us.

Long story short, another hopeful competitor gone. No excuses.
April 11, 2011, 8:43 pm
Triton from Park Slope says:
I guess I'm in the minority but I liked King Cupcake. I always found the service to be very friendly and the other merchandise that they carried was quirky and cute, I bought several things for my niece's birthday.
April 12, 2011, 2:58 am
Captain Obvious from You Know says:
So they opened their business 5 months ago (aka: Fall 2010) and then closed on March 2011? Sounds like a setup for a line-item tax deduction for business expenses.

Seriously, anyone who understands tax law could probably explain further but I bet Ricky’s set this up mainly so if it failed, they could deduct the “investment” and if it succeeded, who cares.

Smells fishy.
April 13, 2011, 4:04 pm
LIBATIONS FOR EVERYONE from PS94 says:
B B B = O

BAD FOOD
BAD SERVICE
BAD PEOPLE

Ricky's should have done there due diligence on there partners before they went into business with them .
I bet you they have a bad history previous to King of cupcakes.
Bet you the reporter did not do there due diligence either!
They sound like losers prior to the opening the store and they will be losers long after
April 15, 2011, 8:03 am
Cupkake Joe from South Brooklyn says:
I do like a good cupcake, hard to get.
April 17, 2011, 10:40 pm
Former King from Brooklyn says:
Yeah, Cupcakes were dry and tasteless and the staff was poorly managed. Trying to sell old cupcakes for high rated prices does scare the customers away. Not having enough experience in the baking business hurts just as much as over-hyped cakes. Well, I guess I could blame Rickys for all my flaws.
April 21, 2011, 5:50 am
Andy from Windsor Terrace says:
They took our order and deposit for our wedding cupcakes about two weeks before they closed. Never called us to let us know. We found out accidentally by walking by. Multiple calls to both Sean and Meagan have been unreturned. They walked with our deposit and didn't have the professional courtesy to let us know they'd gone out of business. We discovered all of this about a month prior to our wedding date so needless to say its caused some stress...not to mention we'll have to take the to small claims court to get our money back. Any small business failure is unfortunate but their lack of dealing with it professionally has left me void of sympathy for these two.
June 22, 2011, 3:06 pm
winston from park slope says:
enough about the king the cupcakes were good the owner didnt know crap about running a store and his fiancee thought she was a princess .she was only a peasant
July 27, 2011, 11:14 am

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