Magnolia Bakery’s iconic cupcakes are about to spread all over the country. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is plotting a major expansion — with a goal of dropping as many as 200 franchise outposts nationwide over the next five years.
The bakery opened in Greenwich Village in 1996 and has since become a pop culture phenomenon driven by a Sex and the City episode, success that’s already led to nine locations in the U.S. and more than a dozen international ones. It’s also translated into about $45 million in sales last year, according to WSJ.
Now, chief executive Steve Abrams wants to be in at least 50 markets across the U.S. with this big growth plan. He did not disclose what the franchise fees would be.
Magnolia serves pretty standard cupcakes, but after the legendary season three episode in 2000 where Carrie Bradshaw ate one, long lines started to form outside with people hoping to live a quintessential New York City experience, at least as depicted by the fictional sex columnist. In 2005, the cupcake got memorialized again in a viral Saturday Night Life short, and by 2007, co-founder Allysa Torey sold the single location to Abrams. Abrams then opened the second Magnolia and drove the eventual global expansion.
The popularity prompted a slew of new cupcake bakeries, though many have spectacularly bombed after the buzz died down. Still, Abrams seems to think Magnolia’s other offerings — like the arguably better but less famous banana pudding — as well as the bakery’s icon status will make the expansion work. “We’re still the big name,” he says.
The company joins several other iconic NYC brands that have been sprinkling locations across the country. Halal Guys, which still draws long lines at the original cart, now has brick-and-mortar locations across the country due to a franchise deal, and Mamoun’s Falafel is also planning growth via franchising.