Located on a grassy corner at Commercial and Center streets, Love Cupcakes is the first trailer in Portland that’s intended to sell anything edible year-round. With the city’s recent approval of food trucks, Anna Turcotte has taken her 18-month-old cupcake business on the road so to speak. After buying and refurbishing a spiffy 1963 vintage trailer, Anna rented space on the Portland waterfront, and Love Cupcakes has become a colorful, high profile fixture.
Portland, Maine has nearly 600 restaurants for a city of 65,000 but only one cupcake trailer. Yet that does not guarantee Love Cupcakes success. Over the past few decades, both Maine’s largest city and the state have earned an enviable reputation for superb natural products from both land and sea as well as becoming a foodie destination. With more than a baker’s dozen of businesses with great pastry cooks, competition is fierce.
“If you make a good cupcake, it’ll never go out of style,” was Anna’s explanation of a business model. She knows that her recipes are the reason she’ll succeed. Of course, like nearly everything available in Portland, Love Cupcakes are made with all natural ingredients. It’s what’s missing that’s intriguing. They contain no eggs or dairy.
Egg and dairy free baked goods, in the hands of a less skilled baker, have a tendency to be dense and chewy. Love Cupcakes chocolate with vanilla frosting had a texture neither too light nor dense with a moist, satisfying mouth feel. Its rich chocolate flavor was well complimented by the creamy, equally rich, vanilla frosting.
The cupcakes are baked at a separate location, with part time help from her sister-in-law, but are frosted to order at the trailer. That makes transport easier and expands her two basic cupcakes into four menu selections – vanilla or chocolate with either chocolate or vanilla frosting. Anna has seasonal specials that frequently sell out before the day is over. Pumpkin has been the autumn selection with cranberry orange and an eggnog and peppermint combo for the holidays on the schedule. For Portland Beer Week she’s making a chocolate stout cupcake and one with pumpkin head beer and a Captain Morgan rum frosting.
Anna, whose previous career was as a mental health professional, knows that Love Cupcakes has risks. A year-round business in Maine requires the constant support of the local population. With a restaurant to population ratio of one to 108, any seller of food in Portland has to be better than just good. Yet Anna Turcotte beams with natural confidence as she hands customers their cupcakes. Anna’s found her niche.