The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

October 3, 2012

Cupcake business born after 2011 tornado

JOPLIN, Mo. — A recent posting on the Smallcakes’ Facebook page reminded Deanna Johnson why she and her employees at the Joplin bakery work as hard as they do. A Joplin woman explained on the Facebook page that on a recent Sunday, her husband insisted she go with him to an area store.

“The deal was that if she went with him (to the store), they would stop here so she could get a cupcake,” Johnson said.

Unfortunately, the woman and her husband arrived at Smallcakes just 10 minutes after the bakery closed. But as the couple started to drive away, a store employee rushed out and told them they could still make a purchase. The woman, in her Facebook post, thanked Johnson and added: “I needed a cupcake.”

When Johnson told that story to a recent visitor at her shop, she laughed and said, “I don’t want to think what would have happened to that husband if she hadn’t been able to get a cupcake.”

That sort of customer devotion is something Johnson has grown accustomed to. But Johnson hasn’t taken it for granted since she and her husband, Kerry, opened Smallcakes in February this year. The bakery, located at 420 N. Range Line Rd., Ste. 13, has developed a legion of sweet-toothed fans primarily by word of mouth.

Johnson said she and her husband opened Smallcakes at the urging of her husband’s nephew, Jeff Martin. A trained chef, Martin started Smallcakes about four years ago in the Kansas City area. At one time, Martin had four stores, but recently sold two of them and now concentrates on his two Smallcakes stores in Overland Park, Kan., and Olathe, Kan.

Johnson said Martin had been after her to open a store in Joplin for several years but really began pushing her after the 2011 tornado.

“After the tornado, he said, ‘Come on. Joplin needs one now,’ and he was right. Cupcakes just make people feel good,” she said.

On any given day you can find 45 to 50 different cupcake flavors on the Smallcakes menu. Some of the creations with mouth-watering names include caramel apple pie, decadent fudge, pink vanilla and stuffed French toast. And if you don’t see what you want on the menu, the staff at Smallcakes will try to accommodate a custom order.

“We’ve made cupcakes for someone who wanted root beer-flavored cakes and for someone who wanted Italian cream” Johnson said.

Despite its name, Smallcakes is not just a cupcake bakery. Johnson and her staff also create a full line of cakes, including wedding cakes. Cookies are also on the menu, and mini pies are coming soon, Johnson said.

This week the bakery also unveiled its fall cupcake menu, which includes seasonal flavor favorites like pumpkin and apple cobbler.

Johnson said items are baked fresh every day and are never frozen or carried over to the next day. At the end of every business day, leftover items are donated to area charitable organizations.

Smallcakes is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

To put you in the cupcake mood, two recipes from the cooks at are included below.

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On The Table

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