Just north of Rapallo Avenue in Middletown, Connecticut a bright pink building attracts glances of hundreds of passerby’s every day.
Coming up on their four year anniversary, NoRA Cupcake Company has become the top stop for cupcake lovers.
Carrie Carella, the owner of the bakery always had a love for the sweeter side of business.
Carella began as a bartender at Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, which is just across the street from what is now NoRA. Alongside Eli’s owner, Phil Ouellette, Carella opened the bakery.
With her bartender background, Carella has been incorporating beer and cocktail inspired ingredients to set her cupcakes apart from the rest.
As stated on NoRA’s website Carella had “a passion for baking and local business,” which enabled her to open her own bakery.
Carella desired to further her business ideas and creativity, saying “I felt like I was working for my old job as if it was my own business and felt like I should be working that hard and passionately for my own business.”
On New Years Eve 2011, NoRA opened their doors to the public for the first time.
The difference between NoRA and other bakeries is their non-traditional recipes and artistic concept based cupcakes.
There are over 100 flavors listed on their menu, and each cupcake flaunts a wide variety of toppings and fillings.
Some of the most unique include Jack Daniels, basil buttercream, mini marshmallows, Magic Hat #9, champagne cake, and bacon.
Check out their cupcake list here!
The bakery space began as a two sectioned business, one half being NoRA and the other reserved for Eli Cannon’s Trading Company.
However, within just a few months NoRA took off and the entire space was dedicated to the bakery, the other half then became the Little Shop of NoRA’s.
Customers could now dine-in. Their menu is jam-packed with cupcakes, as well as coffee, croissants, soups, bread, and a few other bakery items.
The “Lil’ Shop” has plenty of seating, in a cozy “bohemian” atmosphere as self described on their website.
NoRA’s received plenty of positive reviews, landing multiple awards, including Advocate Best Of Hartford Readers Poll for 2014, alongside plenty of attention from local media stations.
Despite their positive opening and years to follow, Carella said finances have been the most difficult part of opening a small business.
“The passion, creativity, team-spirit, and drive are all there,” Carella states, “but the struggle of opening with loans, taxes, payroll, and the day to day needs can be very overwhelming.”
However, over the past few years, NoRA’s has seen growth in sales, both in day to day business as well as wedding orders.
Wedding cakes have been a tradition for thousands of years, according to Carol Wilson, the author of “Wedding Cake: A Slice of History,” one of the first traces dates back to Ancient Rome, where bread was broken over the brides head to ensure good fortune to the couple.
Although NoRA does serve bread, they have yet to receive an order requesting a loaf as a couples replacement wedding cake.
Carella and her crew will gladly whip up a variety of options for couples.
On the NoRA website it states, “regular sized cupcakes, miniature sized cupcakes, large “cut-cake” cupcakes” are all available.
In their first year NoRA received 13 wedding orders, in year two 65, 130 in year three and their hopes for their fourth year is 160.
The most popular cupcake flavor amongst brides is their famous Irish Car Bomb.
Carella states this cupcake concoction consists of chocolate Guinness cake, filled with Jameson chocolate ganache, topped with Bailey’s cream cheese frosting.
Seeing as the Irish Car Bomb is widely loved Carella says, “It is the only cupcake that we stock in the store and on the truck every time we are open and out on the streets.”
The truck she is talking about is their Lil’ NoRA Cupcake Truck, which has been riding the streets filled with sugary sweets for the past few years.
The truck can be booked for just about anything, from weddings, to food truck festivals, to private events and even farmers markets.
“The success and best part of the cupcake truck is the advertising it does every single time it goes out,” Carella said.
Even on days where sales aren’t the highest, the truck is out bringing traffic and customers to the bakery, solely by driving around the town.
Check out the trucks schedule here!
Luckily for all of us, NoRA Cupcake Company is open six days a week, offering hundreds of cupcake combinations, all thanks to the business and baking passion that rests in Carrie Carella.