“These cupcakes are so good they’ll make you want to slap somebody,” Tajuansar “Taj” Diallo, owner of the Cupcake Lounge, said as a new customer walked toward the door, cupcakes in tow.
“Well, if they’re good I’ll definitely be back to see you,” he replied.
“I’ll see you soon,” Diallo said with a grin.
In a town where cupcake stores pop up more often than ground moles in the backyard, the Cupcake Lounge, which faces Oakland Cemetery on Memorial Drive in Grant Park, is bringing a much needed change of scenery to the cupcake game.
“We did a lot of research into the cupcake business,” Diallo said. “Every place we went it was, ‘get a cupcake and go.’” We wanted to change the cupcake experience first of all by dressing the cupcake in front of you. We also wanted to provide a place where you can kick back, relax and enjoy your company and a cupcake.”
And the Cupcake Lounge does just that. Dressed in cool blues, turquoises and purples, with chill lounge tunes playing, the Lounge is littered with plush chairs and couches that make you want to kick back and enjoy the rich decadence of a cupcake in the luxury the tiny dessert deserves.
Diallo’s cupcakes are luxurious themselves, and she is serious about the “dressing” of the cupcake. Newbies to the lounge might be confused to find dozens of “naked” cupcakes on display behind the plated glass counter. But another Lounge specialty is that Diallo dresses, or ices, all the cupcakes by hand in front of the customers. She’s constantly creating new flavors, both of cake and icing.
“I like a lot of the flavors,” she said, “but my favorite would have to be chocolate-strawberry-banana. The short cake. Right now I’d say I have 20 different flavors and they change every day.”
No, she’s not talking about an ice cream flavor that goes with the cupcake, she’s talking about an actual cupcake. It’s a specialty she whipped up involving one chocolate cupcake sliced in half. On the first layer she drizzles chocolate sauce and adds a layer of fresh strawberries and bananas, topped off with a layer of whipped cream. Then she puts the top half of the cupcake back on top of the first layer and covers that with another layer of chocolate sauce, bananas and strawberries, along with another layer of whipped cream. That’s right. All on one cupcake.
Maybe now you can see why the couches are necessary.
Diallo, from Milledgeville, is a newbie herself to the cupcake game. Before she moved to Atlanta she ran a hair salon for 10 years, and an adult novelty store for two years. The leap from hair to adult toys to cupcakes may seem strange to some, but for Diallo it was just par for the course.
“She can really cook!” said business partner Steve Council. “She’s extremely creative in the kitchen, and she has no formal culinary training. She comes up with all the flavor concepts, and some of the ingredients she uses, I would never think to use!”
One of the most popular items on the menu is a vanilla cake with pink lemonade icing, a Diallo original flavor with a super-secret ingredient, along with the strawberry shortcake and the chocolate banana cream and some kind of magical red velvet cake. Is your mouth watering yet?
In addition to the cupcakes, the Lounge, which opened in January, also has a variety of dinner snacks to complement the sweets. Diallo also serves flat bread pizzas, sliders, wings, jalapeno mac and cheese and garlic mashed potatoes. They are working on getting a liquor license as well to enhance the decadence.
The Lounge space is also available to rent for private events. Diallo has hosted baby showers, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, girls’ night out, and of course, birthday parties, proving that cupcakes are not limited to end-of-the-year elementary school parties.
“We have a really diverse group of customers,” Diallo said. “We get a lot of couples who want a light dinner and cupcakes, women who travel in packs, private parties — we’ve had people come from Smyrna, Marietta, Dacula, all over the place. People really love cupcakes and we are trying to give them an atmosphere to enjoy them.”
Added Council:“Taj always had lounge aspiration. We wanted to create an environment where people can experience the elegance of a cupcake.”
Shroud yourself in cupcake bliss at the Cupcake Lounge, after all, that is what it’s there for! So pamper yourself with a cupcake. Go ahead, you deserve it.
If you go:
Location: 415-C Memorial Dr. SE, Atlanta, 30312
Store Hours: Sun-Thurs 5 p.m. - 11 p.m., Fri-Sat 5 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Cupcake Prices: $3 - $5
Private Parties: Baby Shower $250; Other Events $350