DC’s only muffin shop is closing, but it’s not going out of business. Uprising Muffin Company will shut down its Shaw cafe after July 27 and move operations to TasteLab, a food incubator and commercial kitchen space in Langdon (near Brookland), where it will focus on catering and eventually wholesale.
“For this particular business model, 1,900 square-feet is a monster,” says owner Donnie Simpson Jr. While the neighborhood has generally been good to him, the promise of Shaw has not been as great as Simpson expected. “When I came in, there were what seemed like 100 projects that were all going to unfold, and I would say half of them unfolded and half of them didn’t… Maybe it’s just my business model in this part of town, but I just think it has its challenges. It still feels like it has a little way to go.”
Meanwhile, Uprising’s catering orders have gone “up, up, up” since the business started more than four years ago. Over time, he says, it made less and less sense to pay the higher retail rent when he could move the catering business to an incubator kitchen. Beyond muffins, the catering operation has expanded to build-your-own yogurt parfait bars, oatmeal bars, and fruit platters. Simpson is also looking to add bagels from another purveyor to the mix.
Overall, Simpson says he’s “jazzed up” about the change, especially because he now has room to start thinking more about wholesale. He hopes to eventually start selling his muffins in local coffee shops, grocery stores, and other retail spots.
Simpson isn’t giving up on a storefront either. He says he’ll likely open another cafe someday in the future. “It’s just fun, what can I say?” Simpson says. “If you look forward to waking up every day and coming in and doing this, then it’s probably what I should continue doing.”
Correction: TasteLab is located in Langdon, not Brookland.