“We’re at that point where we’re kind of bursting at the seams,” Travonee Simelton says. “It was either take the jump now or … Or, I guess there wasn’t anything else.”
For eight years, Simelton's cupcake baking business has been a home-based venture. Starting off in the small apartment he lived at in Appleton, Wisc. Then after moving to Huntsville in 2015 because that's where his mom and other family were residing, Simelton's Regale Cupcakery became a mobile vendor here. Regale has been a fixture at Huntsville food truck rallies, farmers markets and the like ever since.
Now, after selling cupcakes from underneath a 10-foot-by-10-foot tent at local events for half a decade or so, Simelton is finally getting his own shop.
Regale Cupcakery's brick-and-mortar location will be at 4925 University Drive. It's a space, number 114, in the same shopping plaza home to Bumpers Billiards, Cicis Pizza and Newk's Eatery. Right across the street from Rooms To Go Furniture.
Simelton says the weird/myriad challenges of launching amid coronavirus are worth Regale finally having a physical spot. “The one question we get probably at least three, four times a week is the where are we located question,” Simelton says. “Now we’re finally able to tell somebody where we’re located.”
Regale's 1,600-square-foot space in currently under construction. The hope is to have the place open my mid-September or late-October. The plan is to employ a staff of around six.
Simelton says Regale's most popular cupcake is the Caramel Delight, which he describes as "a Girl Scout Samoas cookie in cupcake form." Their Lemon Berry flavor is another top seller. The proprietor's personal go-to however is their Tomato Soup cupcake, "which is our version of a carrot cake or a spice cake. It actually uses a can of tomato soup in the batter, but it has all the flavors of carrot cake without the actual carrots."
The interior at Regale’s will exude “a coffee shop feel,” Simelton says. There will be couches and tables for customers to sit, eat and sip at. (A full coffee menu is also in the cards there.) Each day, he plans on offering seven different cupcake flavors, at $4 each. “Everything in the shop with be frosted to order,” Simelton says. That includes a $4.50 “create your own cupcake” option, where customers can mix and match cakes, icings and toppings. The shop’s color scheme and branding will feature lots of purple and gold. In Italian the word “regale” means “kingly,” and Simelton picked that for a business name because he wanted to be “the king of cupcakes.”
Simelton grew up in Green Bay, Wisc. As a tween, his family would often purchase boxed cake mixes from Walmart, and he became obsessed with decorating those cakes once the cakes were baked. Anytime someone in their household had a birthday, young Simelton was in charge of decorating the birthday cake. He also spent a lot of time watching Food Network, "and just trying to learn by watching how different chefs create different things."
He'd go on attend culinary school at Appleton's Fox Valley Technical College. After he'd moved off to school, his family relocated to Huntsville. After he finished at Fox Valley with an advanced baking certificate, he wasn't sure where he'd live next. He came to Huntsville thinking he'd only be here six months or so. "And that was seven years ago," Simelton says, punctuating the statement with one of his frequent laughs.
As a baker, he relishes taking the vibe from other kinds of desserts and manifesting them in Regale's two-inch by one-and-three-quarter inch cupcakes. In addition to Girl School cookies, he derives cupcake inspiration from everything from cotton-candy to cinnamon rolls to croissants.
Up to this point in Huntsville, Regale has been operating under Alabama Cottage Food Law, which allows that certain kinds of foods, including cupcakes, can be sold directly to customers, as long as sales do not exceed $20,000 per year. Other requirements include passing an Alabama Department of Public Health food safety course every five years. There are labeling requirements too.
After the pandemic halted Huntsville events local mobile food vendors frequently worked, Regale teamed with meal-oriented food trucks, like Tex-Mex/brisket truck Fire & Spice, and go directly to neighborhoods. Over the years, Simelton formed a friendship with Andrew and Lee Judge, owners of Sugar Belle, another local cupcake business that started mobile before ascending to brick-and-mortar. Unfortunately, Sugar Belle permanently shuttered this June after a seven-year run.
“We worked pretty close together the last few years, so it was very sad to see them go,” Simelton says. He purchased an oven, espresso machine and tables from Sugar Belle for Regale, and wants to “keep some of the memory of Sugar Belle alive while trying to create and build our business as well.”
Between coronavirus, social unrest and caustic politics, it’s universally agreed 2020 has sucked. On the other hand, cupcakes are often-celebratory, a treat that puts most humans who consume them in a good mood. So maybe what’s needed to turn 2020 around is more cupcakes? “We’re here to help bring joy,” Simelton says. “Joy that tastes good.” More info at facebook.com/RegaleCupcakery.
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