By Thomas Heath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 18, 2010; A14
Washington's cupcake wars are escalating, with New York-based Crumbs set to invade the nation's capital in May.
The 26-store chain plans to open the first of at least five D.C. area stores at the intersection of 11th and F streets in downtown Washington, featuring a cupcake selection that Crumbs co-founder Jason Bauer said will easily outdraw the local sugary establishments.
"When we come into the market, people are going to realize what a real cupcake is all about," boasted Bauer, 40, who opened the first Crumbs on New York City's Upper West Side with his wife, Mia, in 2003.
The D.C. region is already pushing out thousands of cupcakes a day, courtesy of stores such as Something Sweet, Baked and Wired, Red Velvet and Georgetown Cupcake, whose two sister owners will be featured on a reality TV program this summer.
Something Sweet owner Bo Blair said the Crumbs crowd is taking itself too seriously.
"This ain't brain surgery," Blair said. "It's making cupcakes. Maybe Crumbs can get on Georgetown Cupcake's new TV show and have a food fight."
Though more than a dozen cupcakeries have opened in the area in the past two years, Bauer said his taste-testing shows there is room for more.
"We came down to that market four months ago and did a complete tour and hit every cupcake place," Bauer said. "Quite honestly, we weren't impressed with anybody's product."
After the F Street NW opening, the company has its eye on locations in upscale foodie hangouts such as Georgetown, Cleveland Park, Foggy Bottom and Rockville, and then across the river in Clarendon and Reston in Northern Virginia.
Bauer said Crumbs decided to come to Washington because it was receiving healthy business from the region through online orders.
Crumbs, which employs about 300 people, grosses about $30 million a year, Bauer said.
The Bauers sold half of the company to fashion industry businessman Edwin Lewis in March 2008.