Ain't life sweet! New dessert shop takes Wolverhampton by storm
It's Tuesday morning at 11 o'clock and already a dozen people are queuing outside the locked door, clamouring to get inside.
Welcome to The Little Dessert Shop, Wolverhampton's newest and most talked-about destination for those in search of the sweetest of treats.
Thousands of people are flocking to the Queen Street shop, with bosses saying they serve between 200 and 300 customers each and every day.
The cafe, which can seat 70 customers inside, has caused a social media storm, with more than 17,300 'likes' on its Facebook page and over 1,200 followers on Instagram, all gushing over the menu of crepes, cakes, shakes, signature sundaes and waffles.
The success of the business has been overwhelming for the managers, who never dreamed it would be so popular when the idea was born just 10 months ago. It was the brainchild of Wolverhampton businessman Maz Ali who spotted a gap in the market in the city centre and said he had since been 'overwhelmed' by the response.
Business is booming so much, bosses have already upped their original workforce of 10 staff to 40. They are also planning to open another branch in Wednesfield in the autumn that will deliver puddings all around the city.
Bosses today admitted they were 'absolutely overwhelmed' by the popularity of the store, which opened its doors in May.
Owner, Wolverhampton businessman Maz Ali said: "It's been a whirlwind three months and the queue is still out the door. Even before we're open there's a crowd of people waiting to come in, which means we must be doing something right.
"We constructed a clever marketing plan from the beginning and were confident it was going to be a success, but we've been absolutely overwhelmed with the local response."
Manager Dane Bartholomew said he was delighted with how well the shop had been received.
He said: "It's been absolutely fantastic. We knew we would be trying something different in Wolverhampton but the constant turnout out day in, day out since we've opened has been unbelievable.
"We're trying our best to allocate for customer preference and each day we strive to improve our customer service and listen to what they want. We've had lots of positive and encouraging feedback and we only hope to go from strength to strength.
"Our busiest days seem to be predominantly Saturdays, but to be honest every day we've been open has had an outrageously busy period.
With a whopping 40 ice-cream flavours - including everything from vanilla to bubblegum to Mint Areo - on the extensive menu and more than 65 dishes, as well as coffees, smoothies and mocktails, you can grab a scoop of ice cream for £1.60 while cakes are on sale priced from £2.95.
The £6.50 Ferrero Fantasy Waffle has become one of the shops best-sellers, with mixtures of Ferrero Rocher mixed in with Nutella and gelato ice cream and finished off with hazelnut crumbles.
Other dishes include the milk chocolate chip cookie dough - hot cookie dough, chocolate chip pieces, ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream for £5.50 - while a Maple Fusion crepe, priced £4.95, is loaded with maple and toffee syrup, bananas with caramel crunch and ice cream.
Mr Ali said the most calorie-laden pudding is the 'create your own' dessert where customers can buy a waffle basket, cookie dough or crepe and load them with as many toppings and ice creams of their choice. It can easily top more than 1,000 calories, which would take more than an hour of sprinting full pelt on a treadmill to burn off.
For those watching their weight, there's also a fruit platter - although it does come with melted Nutella, Belgian and white chocolate sauce and mini doughnuts. It is also the most expensive item on the menu, coming in at £14.95.
Weekends and lunchtimes are the busiest time for trade with Miss Black Country, Jade Secker, aged 24 from Wombourne, among the shop's fans.
She said: "I have been here before and I love it, especially the waffles. There is always a queue and that is a good thing for Wolverhampton, it brings people of all ages together to enjoy something different."
Rita Kumar, 48, from Bilston, brought her family along for a treat.
She said: "I have heard lots about it from friends at work, apparently it is the place to be. Everything looks great and it is a nice place to treat the kids, I can't wait to get inside."
The shop has created 40 new jobs and there are now plans to branch out and open a new takeaway and delivery branch on Wolverhampton Road in Wednesfield, meaning dessert lovers will soon be able to order their favourites from the comforts of their own home.
Mr Ali says the second store will create another 10 jobs and will open in the autumn and if successful there could be further expansion in the region.
"We are delighted with how it's going and hopefully with the new store we can progress and make a real name for ourselves, in the area, not just Wolverhampton," he added.
"We'll see how the second shop goes and take it from there."
The business has also been providing a boost to nearby shops.
Kevin Fisher, the owner of Foot Clinic, has been based in Queen Street for three decades but has never seen it so busy. He said the improvement to the street's footpaths last year had also helped.
"It's a fantastic thing and so good to see," he said. "There's been a queue outside my door which is good as it gets more people noticing me.
"I've never seen it busier than it has been recently in all the time I've been here. It's good to see for Queen Street. I even had menus in here which people have been taking out."
Rebecca Evans, assistant at The Pet Shop, said: "I think it means more customers coming to the street and more people walking past which is good.
"I want to go over there and try it."
Jez Redler, sales manager at Ron Flowers sports shop, said: "It's our busiest time of the year because we sell lots of schoolwear.
"But the street is generally busier. Lots of the kids who come in here say they're going over to the cake shop after."
Louise Johnson, owner of Louise's Hair Salon, said: "It's nice to see people up and down the street.
"Lots of young people are using the cake shop and it's good for business."
Councillor John Reynolds, Wolverhampton council's cabinet member for city economy, said: "It is great to hear that this new business is doing so well. We have done a lot of work in recent months to improve the area in and around Queen Street, make it more attractive to shoppers and pedestrians, and so it is good news that local businesses like the Little Dessert Shop are thriving."
Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.