q&a with sean nock, main street cupcakes

It seems like a perfect match. In the quaint and traditional Main Street of downtown Hudson sits a quaint cupcake shop by the same name, though this store serves anything but traditional treats. I’m talking about Main Street Cupcakes of course which has recently expanded to Rocky River – and the baking doesn’t stop there. Here, Sean Nock, head baker, co-owner and bona-fide Prince enthusiast, shares an inside look into his boutique shop,  life and what’s next.

1. If Cleveland were a cupcake, which flavor would it be? It would our Sweet & Salty cupcake.  It’s a great blend, but sometimes takes a certain pallet to appreciate.  Not everyone loves what Cleveland has to offer, but after you give it a chance you see that the combination produces a rich flavor – the food scene, the museums, the parks and the cozy neighborhoods. You have to experiment in Cleveland but once you give it a chance you are sold on what it’s made of.

2. What was your very first job? How did you get into baking and make the leap to business owner? I was Busboy at a party center and that had absolutely no impact on where I went in my future, haha.

I’ve actually been a baker my whole life. After working a lot in the hospitality industry, I knew I’d like to do something on my own. We finally took the leap when it was a perfect blend of financial feasibility, when we recognized a void, when we had what we thought was a great idea to fill that void, and then when we found the right place for it. My wife and I just loved the boutique bakeries that we visited in so many other cities so we finally sat down, put our talents together and brought one to our hometown. As for cupcakes, we’ve always been cupcake lovers and it was a current trend in specialty food.

3. Favorite thing about Cleveland and what drives you nuts? I really do love the food scene. I don’t get out much because I work in the middle of the night, but my wife and I love to try all the restaurants that pop up. We don’t mind driving for good food.

I’m pretty fed up with the inability of our sports teams to bring home a national championship. It’s hard to not get caught up in the chatter about our teams being cursed.

4. The key to a perfectly baked cupcake is_____________? I stand firmly on our concept to use some of the finest ingredients. I’m just as impressed as the next guy when someone shares who they trained under or if they went to culinary school in Europe, but if you aren’t utilizing excellent ingredients it’s going to show.

5. What flavors have you tried and just didn’t work? Two that come to mind are lemon poppy seed and peaches & cream. Though we think it was a naming issue with peaches & cream because the recipe I developed for our very popular Bellini cupcake is essentially what I was doing for peaches & cream.

6. Biggest learning lesson from owning your own business? For one, you don’t sleep as much as you’d like! A funny little thing that happened when we first opened the store was that we only had three household Kitchen Aid mixers that we bought at Williams-Sonoma. Literally by Day 2 my wife was on the phone over night-ing the mother of all Thunderbird floor mixers.

7. What book are you currently reading? Busted, I don’t read a lot.

8. If you could be any celebrity for a day, who would you be and why? First thing that came to my mind is James Gandolfini. A) He’s got a little more meat on his bones than I do. B) People listen to him and C) I was a big fan of The Sopranos.

9. Last meal on Earth? A steak from Lola and creme brulee for dessert with my family because we rarely can get together as a family anymore.

10. Favorite guilty pleasure? You would think I eat a ton of cupcakes, but actually I’m a sucker for our garnishes. There’s no telling how much crushed Reece’s Cups I’ve eaten.

11. Last CD you downloaded? Parade by Prince. I’m a total product of the ‘80s.  My wife, brother-in-law and I torture our other family members with our love for Prince.

12. Favorite restaurant in Cleveland? Which one do you miss? Lola continues to be my favorite, the lunch menu in particular. We normally have the schnitzel.  I miss the Hofbrau Haus down in the old neighborhood.

13. Where did you grow up? Favorite meal form your childhood? I grew up in Cleveland (St Vitus Parish). I live far from that lifestyle now but it really did shape me and I have a million stories about it. I’ve never eaten again like I did back then. I grew up on all of the great ethnic meals. My favorite for sure was Hungarian Goulash.

14. Any other plans for expansion? Aside from the new gluten-free cupcakes, any other unique offerings coming up? We will be opening a third location in the coming months. It’s going to be more of a satellite spot. We’re definitely picking an area that we haven’t tapped into at all yet.  We are having a blast making NEO sweeter one cupcake at a time.

15. Can you share a recipe for readers? My favorite dessert hands down is Creme Brulee. However, a while back a customer of ours gave my wife a great recipe for a no-bake tiramisu and it’s been a fun go-to dessert. If you ask anyone in specialty food right now they will surely tell you that Italian food is hot. My wife’s family is Sicilian; it’s always been hot for us. Here’s a link to that Tiramisu. It’s easy and fun.

6 Comments

  1. Posted July 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    The tiramisu sounds great!

  2. Kelly
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    LOVE Main Street Cupcakes! A must try in CLE!

  3. DianeS
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think Main Street Cupcakes is actually baking the gluten free cupcakes. I believe they are from Mrs. P, Gluten Free who makes wonderful gluten free bakery items. I don’t have a problem with gluten and I enjoy her bakery items because they are that good!

  4. Jane
    Posted July 14, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I have visited Main Street Cupcakes 3 times and have been very dissapointed. I work in Hudson so I was very excited when they opened here, however I have found there cupcakes to be dry & small and have way to much super sugary icing. I tried a different flavor each time I went and found this to be true with all. I expected them to be rich, moist and complex in flavor and they missed on each point.

  5. Dennis
    Posted August 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely agree with Jane. For a place that markets itself as a gourmet cupcake shop, I had extremely high expectations and boy was I disappointed with just about every cupcake I’ve purchased there. I live in Hudson and have tried at least a dozen or so of their different cupcakes over a period of six month.

    My first issue is with size and presentation. After watching cupcakes being features on Food Network from locations throughout the United States, I expected larger than my mom’s basic muffin tin size. I’m thinking gourmet mega-cupcakes. In addition, the adornment on top of the cupcake is lacking. For gourmet, I’m thinking large and over the top adornment of frosting and goodies. Instead the cupcakes are the same basic size of a muffin tin and Betty Crocker paper cups. The frosting is ho-hum and nothing more than a piping bag with a fancy tip (maybe some sprinkles).

    My second issue is with dryness of the cupcakes. The cakes are seriously lacking in moistness. Not awful to eat dryness, but I’ve had so much more wonderfully moist cakes that I would never pass off such dry bakery as gourmet.

    I think the only thing they have going for themselves is that cupcakes are a hot trend right now and they are riding the wave. If they tried to expand into full size cakes once the cupcake wave is over, the quality of their bakery is so lacking that I suspect they will not last very long.

  6. CassidyRay
    Posted September 16, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I could not disagree with Dennis or Jane more. The potion size is perfect and won’t make you feel like you’ve blown your diet. The Wedding Day White is most perfect tasting wedding cake ever and the Carrot cake was sooo moist and good. The last time I visited, the line was out the door and everyone was talking about what their favorite flavors were. I think they’ll be around a while. Thank goodness!!

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