HOLMES BEACH -- Anna Maria Island residents, vacationers and wedding parties can explore more than 100 varieties of cupcakes in 2016.
Cupcake Delights of Mount Dora hopes to open in Holmes Beach around the first of the year. The shop, owned by Judy Owens, signed a five-year lease in July for a 2,400-square-foot spot at 3324 East Bay Drive, according to Manatee County records.
The strip mall, also the home of Dollar Tree, Paradise Bagels, Ace Hardware and Subway, is owned by one of Manatee County's most prolific development companies, Benderson Development Co.
The Owens family began vacationing at Anna Maria Island in 2000 and Owens said she fell in love with the area because of its laid-back, familial atmosphere. The family previously vacationed in Sanibel and found Anna Maria Island's charm more appealing.
"I think Anna Maria is so much more welcoming than Sanibel is," Owens, 52, said. "Anna Maria is very welcoming for families." They rent condos for part of the year but once the Holmes Beach location is up and running, the Owens family hopes to buy property on or just off the island.
They're also thinking about expanding the business if the Holmes Beach location is successful. The next expansion would be in the Sarasota area,
Owens said. The Mount Dora Cupcake Delights opened eight years ago and will remain open. It is about 1,000 square feet smaller than the Holmes Beach shop.
"Everyone is shocked I need that much space for cupcakes," Owens said, laughing. She's excited to offer customers a place to sit down, enjoy a treat and coffee and relax. She also looks forward to a different pace and style of business on the island.
"The island is so busy with families and visitors and with all the weddings that go on it's going to be crazy," she said. "We'll start offering a large variety of cupcake flavors and then eventually get into small wedding cakes and see where that takes us."
The Holmes Beach shop will probably need a staff of 15 to 20 people, Owens said, and her daughter, Taylor Owens, 18, will be in charge of operating the bakery. The Owens family waited to open the bakery until Taylor finished high school last May.
Owens hopes the bakery will be open by the first of the year and said she turned in interior alteration plans to the city of Holmes Beach on Aug. 21.
"I contacted them about two weeks ago and I know there are a couple people in front of me," she said. The location used to be a West Marine retail shop for boat accessories, and needs a complete interior overhaul, including new ceilings, walls and flooring, a fresh paint job, a cabinet makeover, water lines and electrical work.
According to Susan Corsi, a member of the city's building department staff, they have been working through "quite a few" applications. She said the fire department signed off on Owens' unit a few days ago but it is still under review.
Cupcake Delights started out as an 800-square-foot store. After six years of growing her business, Owens moved it to a larger location.
She started decorating cakes at age 13. After getting married and settled with her own family, she found inspiration in Wisconsin to open her own baking business.
"We went somewhere with a bakery case full of cupcakes," Owens said. "Then I saw something in the news and in a magazine about cupcakes and I saw the cupcake craze was coming. I went home and said, 'Honey, I'm going to open a cupcake shop.'"
She also found inspiration in her father, who was a chef and food inspector in the U.S. Army and "loved to bake." People traveled from all over to the town of almost 13,000 people to buy her cupcakes, she said.
Though it depends on the time of year and demand, Cupcake Delights bakes anywhere from 200 to 1,200 cupcakes a day. She's estimating she'll bake about 500 cupcakes every day in Holmes Beach, but is also prepared for anything else.
"You just don't know until you get in there and see what happens," Owens said. "It could be 1,500 a day over there."
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095 or follow her on Twitter@jayohday.