What business wouldn’t want to have this problem: so much customer demand that they have trouble meeting it.
Companies respond differently, depending on the risk involved. It could choose to expand its current space or move to a larger one, open a second location, hire more employees, or invest in new equipment to support a greater output.
Businesses also grow by diversifying what they offer. Perhaps they’ll release a product line complementary to one that has proven popular, or add more things for visitors to do at a tourist attraction.
Whatever the direction for growth, we love to cheer a success story, and here are several to appreciate.
Sift Bake Shop
When Adam Young opened Sift Bake Shop in May of 2016, he didn’t expect it to take off so quickly. The bakery’s 1,300-square-foot space in Mystic debuted with 13 employees and seating space for 10 to 12 people.
But the business soon gained a reputation for high quality baked goods, with lines stretching out the door. Young gained even more attention in 2018 when he competed on the Food Network’s Best Baker in America show and took home the grand prize.
Sift Bake Shop’s first expansion came soon after, when he opened a seasonal Watch Hill location to reach the Rhode Island market. One year later, Young completed a major overhaul of the Mystic site that grew the space to about 6,500 square feet.
Young said this expansion was a necessary step due to the popularity of the bakery. The existing space was proving insufficient not only to serve the growing customer base, but also for the bakers to prepare an adequate supply of goods to meet demand.
“It just got to the point where we were compromising the integrity of the service,” he says.
An addition was created at the back of the building, allowing Young to establish three separate bakeries. These include a hot kitchen, a cooler entremet kitchen for finer work on cakes and chocolates, and a viennoiserie kitchen for the preparation of things like doughs and croissants.
The addition also allowed for the establishment of a rooftop deck, which has a 90-person capacity and can be used for special events and overflow seating. The interior was renovated to expand the dining area to 1,300 square feet with seating for 40 to 50 people.
Young says expanding the business also allowed him to step back and assess his goals. These included improving the training and amenities necessary to better serve each customer and the addition of more savory items to the menu.
The expansion required a multi-million-dollar investment, but Young considers that refining the business has allowed him to create a solid financial plan without compromising service or raising prices. He says he has also received helpful aid from a variety of parties, such as local officials for supporting his expansion plans, Chelsea Groton Bank for financing the project, and building and construction professionals for completing the work with minimal disruption to the business.
Young says the expansion has created a more attractive space for both his employees and customers while also supporting the local community and economy. He says it has also helped Sift Bake Shop grow into a larger business, as it now employs 90 people with several managers to help him oversee day-to-day operations.
“I think there’s always room to improve, and you can never lose sight of that,” he says.
Foxwoods Resort Casino
A far larger entity now, but Foxwoods Resort Casino began as a high stakes bingo hall, opened by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe in 1986. A full casino followed in 1992, and the ensuing expansions included the Grand Pequot Tower in 1997, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in 1998, and two Lake of Isles golf courses in 2005.
Jason Guyot, senior vice president of resort operations at Foxwoods, says many of the early expansions were driven by strong regional demand. When the casino opened, it was the only major gaming destination in the region aside from Atlantic City and it was easily accessible to visitors from Boston and New York City.
“Nobody knew how successful the property was going to be,” says Guyot. “It was so successful that they immediately needed to plan the expansion, because there was so much traffic and volume coming into the property.”
More recent expansions have followed a master plan, with a goal of creating a fully integrated resort destination featuring unique attractions. These included the addition of the Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods — more than 80 stores and 300,000 square feet of retail space. Entertainment options such as the HighFlyer Zipline and Monza World Class Karting followed, and just recently the new Rainmaker Buffet opened.
Every expansion at Foxwoods is based on a careful planning process, which includes an analysis of market conditions, traffic studies, competitive offerings, and determining gaps in service where the resort can appeal to visitors. Guyot says Foxwoods aims to serve its existing clientele while also working to provide a mix of attractions that will make the resort more attractive and welcoming to both younger visitors and other demographics.
Guyot says competition and market conditions have presented the biggest challenges when considering expansions. He notes how the $700 million construction of the Fox Tower proved beneficial, since it created a larger theater and more hotel rooms, but was also completed in 2008 just months before the start of a lengthy economic recession.
“You really can’t control outside factors like the economy, and that’s ultimately the biggest risk of expanding any business,” he says.
Guyot says the expansions Foxwoods has completed have allowed guests to enjoy extended lengths of stay with more things to do, which in turn provides a stronger revenue stream to the resort. He says this evolution has allowed Foxwoods to distinguish itself from other casinos that have opened since 1992.
“We want to have something for everyone,” says Guyot.
NoRA Cupcake Company
Another business that’s tapped into consumers’ appetites is the NoRA Cupcake Company in Middletown, opened in 2011 by Carrie Carella. Although it was originally intended as a side gig, it soon proved successful enough that she began doing it full-time.
Carella’s brick-and-mortar shop was “almost immediately” followed by the purchase of a food truck. She says this decision was a natural fit for the work of baking specialty cupcakes, catering, and attending events.
“We realized that the product was extremely mobile,” says Carella.
After about three years in the business, Carella was invited to open a pop-up store in West Hartford. Another temporary location opened in Canton in 2016.
In March of 2019, NoRA Cupcake Company opened its second permanent location in New London. Carella says the city’s business climate is similar to Middletown’s, and that she had received strong encouragement from local businesses and community leaders. The product had also found an eager audience at New London’s waterfront festivals.
“We were always successful with all of our events here,” Carella says. “We sold out quickly.”
The New London storefront does not have an on-site kitchen, but rather features cupcakes and other baked goods delivered each day from Middletown. Carella says it would be a major commitment to add an industrial kitchen to the location, but she may consider doing so in the future.
Carella says opening a second location proved easier than starting the food truck, since she simply needed to follow the local rules and regulations. However, it was a bigger decision to make. A second location meant becoming part of a new community and building relationships there.
At the same time, she considers it a benefit to have a touchstone in a community NoRA Cupcake Company has visited frequently over the years. She says the New London location has also boosted her revenue and provided her bakers the satisfaction of having a greater reach.
In 1996, two years after receiving federal recognition, the Mohegan Tribe opened a casino on the reservation’s land in Uncasville. The flagship property, Mohegan Sun, has since gone through several expansions with the goal of being a leading “Integrated Entertainment Resort” developer.
One of Mohegan Sun’s largest expansions came in 2001, when it invested $1.1 billion in improvements at the flagship property. These included the establishment of the 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena, a multipurpose space hosting more than 100 sports and entertainment events each year.
Since the casino opened, it has also established two new hotels, the Earth Expo & Convention Center, and Aspire — a luxury “hotel within a hotel” located atop the Sky Tower. In addition, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment has expanded its properties worldwide, adding seven additional properties in the United States with planned developments in South Korea and Greece.