Chicago Real Estate Rescue? A Piece of Cupcake

Forget about unrest in Athens, or whether some idiot broker might have sold billions instead of millions of shares -- helping to send the stock market into a thousand-point plummet. This is the story of how a cupcake, or in this case, cupcakes, may breathe new life into Chicago's real estate and rental markets.

There is a virtual cupcake explosion in the Windy (or is it Winded?) City. Tough economic times are apparently driving more and more folks to seek the small pleasures of the small cake baked in a metal cup, even at a premium price. And, it appears to be a win-win situation ... except, maybe, for Chicago residents trying to lose weight.
Several new bakeries have recently opened their doors in Chicago, says Medill Reports of Northwestern University. Beside the independent operations (a sure boon to the commercial real estate market there), Medill says that some 20 new cupcake bakeries are now being run out of a place called Kitchen Chicago, which rents space and equipment for $14 to $24 an hour.

The competing bakeries sell to coffee shops, farmers markets and some upper-crust food stores. Oh, and also to customers.

The chief instructor at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Peter Babcock, said the cupcake market will keep growing because a cupcake is as "charming to children as it is to adults."

What's more, Babcock added, there is a similarity between the cupcake and housing markets. "People are under the impression that if they pay more, they're getting something that might be better than it really is. Everybody feels so strapped, they think they can treat themselves, even if the product doesn't warrant the price."

Well, he has a point. It does sound an awful lot like the real estate/housing market, doesn't it?

He mentioned the inflated price for these cupcakes with good reason: Some are selling for four bucks or more apiece.

Chicago is, of course, not the only city seeing more and more cupcakes popping out of bakery ovens. According to, "Gourmet cupcake shops are opening up in every major city."

In fact, the website offers tips on how to start a cupcake business:

First, you will need money. But maybe not as much as you might think. "With a cupcake business, you can start small, from your kitchen ... [and] as your business grows ... you can open a cupcake shop."

Here in L.A., as in Manhattan, several cupcake establishments have recently opened their doors, which is good for eaters and good for the local real estate markets.

It's even been good for the Kardashians. (Why is it that everything seems good for the Kardashians?) Kim Kardashian is hawking her vanilla cupcake mix out of her fairly new cupcake shop in -- naturally -- Beverly Hills.

L.A. churches have even begun using red velvet cupcakes with buttercream frosting in place of communion wafers, served with lattes instead of wine. No, I'm just joshing. But if a church were to do that in L.A., how much you wanna bet the Kardashians would be running it?

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book "No Time to Think -- The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has written about real estate-related issues for several years. He has eaten cupcakes every now and then.

Read about more Chicago Real Estate news or find homes for sale in Chicago at AOL Real Estate.

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