Social media has boosted business for two new cafe's around Baton Rouge. Both sought out locations where they'd be the only ones in the area to offer certain items. And one new owner was stunned when people as far away as Texas came for her fare.
The 70805 zip code doesn't have the best reputation, the area is known for having high crime. But that is the area where Kasie Coleman wanted her store front.
"There's no bakery anywhere on this side of town," said Coleman, as she mixed another batch of frosting for her red velvet cakes.
Coleman calls her cupcakes 'Baby Belle's.' Every Monday, she says, they change the six flavors offered in the front window. She says Saturday's they have a goodbye for the flavors of the week and get ready for new tasty treats. Some customer favorites do reappear.
While she mixes in the back, the front bell dings constantly from customers who are feeding their sweet tooth.
"One customer drove four and a half hours from Monroe, Louisiana. He saw us on Facebook and followed us. He and his mom made a special trip just to come to SugarBelle," she said. Coleman's also had customers from Houston, other parts of Texas and Lafayette.
SugarBelle was always a dream for Coleman. A life changing cancer diagnosis in 2010 pushed her to make her dream a reality and it all started on social media.
"I'd been on Facebook since October of last year promoting because I thought I'd open in November. Then that was delayed and I thought it would be December." The store finally opened in April. Since then, she's been sifting ingredients, coming up with new ways to dazzle customers. So far she's come up with more than 100 flavors.
"We have a bake it or break it...I make something new, put samples out and customers give me feedback," Coleman said.
Across town, another new owner says he set up because no one offered the kind of food he was looking for.
"We looked for food like this around here, couldn't find it. We said we'll do it ourselves," said James Jacobs. He and his wife, Lina, own Magpie Café on Perkins Road.
Like Coleman, Jacobs also turned to Facebook to get the word out about his shop. He says it started mainly as a way to let people know what they'd be offering for the day. Their menu changes daily. They use local produce, and have several offerings for those on the Paleo diet.
"It's funny how social media can really help a business," Jacobs said.
While both owners say Facebook has helped them, Coleman says she has one other person to thank. Her grandmother, who taught her to bake at age four.
"There are three girls and she'd ask, 'Which of you is going to follow in my footsteps?' And we'd say none of us. 30 years later, here I am."
In fact, her grandmothers handwritten recipe for Hot Butter Pound Cake is proudly posted in the front section of the bakery. Coleman makes that cake everyday.
*Coleman left Monday evening to fly to Tulsa, Oklahoma for her 90 day check up to make sure that she is still in remission. She'll be back at the bakery on Friday.