RED BANK: CUPCAKES, WITH A FRENCH TWIST

Erica Lieberman is jumping into the baked desserts fray with Whipped, A Café and Dessert Bar on Monmouth Street. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Into the ever-changing mix of Red Bank eateries comes a new entry  that aims to compete on several fronts, including cupcakes and coffee.

Dubbed Whipped, A Café and Dessert Bar, the business opening at 6 Monmouth Street also incorporates some offerings of the last tenant there. Chef Marc Fontaine, who briefly offered crepes under the banner of La Patisweet, will be working a section of the space now leased to Whipped owner and first-time retailer Erica Lieberman.

Lieberman, 33, of Aberdeen, spent several years on Wall Street before moving her financial services expertise back to Monmouth County a few years back. All throughout, though, she was baking, cultivating a passion born at her mother’s elbow.

For family events, she was the go-to source for cupcakes and other treats, she said. Then friends, and friends of friends, started calling.

By 2009, “I was like, I’ve got to start charging,” she tells redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn. She started a catering operation as a sideline, specializing in cupcakes.

One night last spring, after having donated cupcakes to a charity event, Lieberman had some left over when she and her boyfriend stopped at Fontaine’s crepe shop and noticed an empty display case. After some conversation, Fontaine invited her to put the treats in the case to see what might happen.

They cakes sold well, and soon Lieberman was renting the case, often selling out.

Fontaine, who’d opened La Patisweet just months prior after closing down Bienvenue on East Front Street, was struggling financially, and proposed a deal that Lieberman jumped on: she’d take over the lease, and he’d sublet a corner of the store, making his crepes and some other treats.

Whipped, said Lieberman, will be an all-day place for baked breakfast goods, including croissants and muffins, as well as gourmet coffee and gelato. The store will be open until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, she said.

And of course, there will be cupcakes, of which there’s no shortage downtown, with Sugarush, Cupcake Magician, Lil Cutie Pops, and Posh Pops, all within a cupcake’s throw. But “I always expect there to be competition,” said Lieberman, who says she’s comfortable both with the quality of her products and the mix she and Fontaine will be offering.

In addition, Whipped’s interior, decorated in storybook pink and brown, features eight two-seat tables, making it attractive to those who just want to sip and nurse a cup of coffee.

“This is my dream, since I was, like, five,” she said. “It’s always been my dream to have a place like this.”

After a friends-and-family event this Saturday night, Lieberman expects to open next week.

In other Churnings…

Speaking of French, a French bakery called Antoinette Boulangerie is planning to set up in the first floor of the office building at 32 Monmouth, according to documents filed with the borough planning office. That space was last occupied by Stokaboka, which surfed its last wave more than two years ago.

The principals couldn’t be reached for immediate comment, but documents indicate it will be a seven-day gourmet bakery, with on-premises baking.

And Danny Weinberg’s Hip and Humble Home imported furniture shop is on the move again. After recently settling on Wallace Street following an absence from town, he’s now taking over the space last occupied by Bella Chic at 26 Monmouth.

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