The sweet smell of cupcakes wafts over you within moments of walking into Smallcakes. And when leaving, the scent travels along.
"There's not too many places that you can get a cupcake just out of the oven," owner Leah Polowichak said. "Some of them are leaving here still nice and warm."
Each morning, the Smallcakes team arrives hours before doors open. They mix, by hand, and bake a few hundred cupcakes from scratch. Then, they'll bake throughout the day.
That freshness is signature to the Smallcakes brand, developed by Jeff Martin that has been seen on Food Network's "Cupcake Wars."
Polowichak and her husband, Patrick, opened the Williamsburg franchise 18 months ago. They originally fell in love with the Smallcakes brand when living in Georgia. They knew Williamsburg would love Smallcakes, too.
Customers can choose from 14 daily flavors, including hot fudge sundae, Boston cream pie and birthday cake. But the store rotates through over 200 flavors, including monthly specials and seasonal favorites such as pumpkin spice latte, or peppermint crunch.
Even Polowichak can't choose a favorite. "It changes so much," she said. "Carrot is my flavor today."
Smallcakes also bakes special orders, such as cakes, cake pops and customized cupcakes.
"We all put our passion into it," employee Jacara Alexander said. Alexander is pursuing a culinary career, and she's interested in baking. Smallcakes' employees are cross-trained in all aspects of cupcake creation, Alexander said.
Polowichak didn't come from a background in baking, but she has grown to love it.
"When I'm here, it's my happy place," she said.
And when customers walk in, greeted immediately by the Smallcakes staff, the happiness becomes contagious. It's not just the brightly decorated store.
"I want customer service to be above and beyond," Polowichak said.
Polowichak used to work as a hair stylist, where she developed a family of clients. She admitted to being a people person.
"We try to get to know people," Polowichak said. "We just try to make them feel special."
Alexander loves seeing return customers, joking and laughing with them.
"I have fun here," she said, "even on the most hectic day."
Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-275-4934.
Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 12-5 p.m., Sunday
Location: 4640 Casey Blvd., Suite 120, Williamsburg