Sweet addition: Pearl's comes to West Main

Cupcakes, cookies, macaroons, muffins, tarts, croissants…you can't swing a rolling pin these days without hitting a sweet shop somewhere in town. Come May 6,  you'll be able to sink your sweet tooth into goodies at Pearl's Bake Shoppe between Sweethaus and the Albemarle Baking Company on West Main in the historic ‪Peyton-Ellington Building at 711 West Main Street. The Richmond-based cupcake-centric bakery comes with an impressive resumé. Open since 2010 on Richmond's Grove Avenue, the shop's cupcakes have been voted Richmond's best by Richmond Magazine, and last year, Virginia Living Magazine voted them the state's best. Sweet!

The inspiration for the venture has some local roots, as co-owner Laurie Chapman Blakey says it came from her grandmother, Pearl Gentry Chapman, who lived her entire life in Greene County.

"My Grandmother was the most amazing cook. She cooked everything from scratch, using home-grown ingredients," says Blakey. "Even as a child, I appreciated the extraordinary culinary efforts it took to prepare the deliciousness that came from my Grandmother's garden and kitchen."

Indeed, that effort and attention to detail appears to be the secret. According to Blakey's partner, Laura Condrey, when they opened in Richmond, they were inundated with customers.

"We were hoping for a good turnout," says Condrey, "but there was a line out the door. It was like the heavens opened up."

Indeed, already the Richmond shop has had to double its store space, and they've begun shipping their sweets. Plus, both of Blakey's children, Nathaniel and Mary Beth, have started working for the shop. They now have 23 employees.

In addition to everyday and special occasion cakes, Pearl's will be offering cookies, brownies, french macaroons, tarts, muffins, turnovers, cake pops, cheese straws, breakfast breads, cupcakes, and baby bundt cakes.

Given all this advance praise, you can count on C'ville foodies bringing out their inner critic. After all, with places like Sweethaus, Cappelino's Crazy Cakes, Paradox Pastry, Panda Cakes, Albemarle Baking Company, Hot Cakes, and Baker's Palette already rocking our sweet world, they're going to have their work cut out for them.

Blakey, who toiled away in the Richmond real estate biz before opening her shop, says she's ready to return to her roots.

"We are very happy to be bringing Pearl's home to Charlottesville," she says.


When did albemarle baking move?

The best thing is they will have Gluten Free cupcakes! Something that is needed in Charlottesville.

Open Sunday? Hours? Thank you.

Rena, they also have gluten free cookies, brownies, etc. and it is all delicious!! The best gluten free baked goods that I have found.

Just read in the New York Times how the cupcake craze is "crashing and burning". Glad they have expanded their offerings. Macaroons seem to be the in thing.