Monday, February 4, 2008

Down the Shore with...Tracey Deschaine

If you've poked around the blog, you know that I love love LOVE Upcakes, the tastey flip on a cupcake that's sold at Dixie Picnic in Ocean City. I love them so much that I'm even having an Upcake get together in a few days -- you see, you can order boxes of Upcakes, but I didn't trust myself with a dozen to myself, so I figured I'd bring a taste of Ocean City to my family and friends (and spread around the calories).

So of course I had to get Tracey Deschaine of Dixie Picnic for the Down the Shore with... series. Here's how she gets it done.

1. What do you consider 'your' shore town and why?
My shore town is without a doubt Ocean City. I grew up in North Jersey and never really visited the shore much because my parents weren't big ocean lovers. My husband took me to Ocean City when we were dating in our early twenties. Since then, I can re-live every important point in my life with Ocean City memories. We spent many summers here, owned our first home in Somers Point, and now I'm a business owner in the town. I still get sentimental every time I cross the bridge.

2. Why open a restaurant in Ocean City?
I chose Ocean City to open Dixie Picnic for several reasons. First, I love the town, as I said before. Ocean City has lost a lot of fine restaurants over the last decade and, as a visitor, I myself felt a void that maybe Dixie Picnic could fill. I also was lucky enough to find a great location. I have always had plans to open other Dixie Picnic locations in the Delaware Valley when we are ready, and the friends we've made in Ocean City have already been asking for us to build a Dixie Picnic near them. Our email list has over 600 members ranging all over the east coast, and we've shipped Upcakes all over the United States. I really think that the magic of Ocean City has rubbed off on Dixie Picnic.

3. When did you open?
Dixie Picnic opened its doors September 29, 2006. Bad timing, I know. Its not like I wanted to miss the summer season, but we totally renovated the building prior to opening, and a combination of contractor issues, and the work itself moved the opening back to September.

4. Explain the Dixie Picnic concept.
The Dixie Picnic Concept was conceived by a combination of happy childhood memories and recognition of something missing in the casual dining market. When my brothers and I were little, my Southern Mom, Bette, would take us to visit our Grandmother, Bucky, and our great Aunts, her sisters. Aunt Anne, Aunt Sadie, Aunt Myrtle, Aunt Bertha would spoil us rotten, and it seems that every time we would visit there would inevitably be a picnic involved. Many of the recipes we use at Dixie Picnic are right out of the family cookbooks. People take one bite of our food and they can immediately taste the difference. People have forgotten what freshly prepared non commercial food tastes like. I always tell them...there is no secret to our food. We start with better raw ingredients, prepare them fresh in our kitchen by hand. Yes...we cost a little more. But in the long run, that is what makes us worth visiting. We couldn't make our food any cheaper and have it taste the same. But the Dixie Picnic concept wouldn't be complete without taking the time to partake of our food in the company of family and friends. The best memories of our childhood Dixie Picnics wouldn't be complete without our great eccentric relatives.

5. Where did the Upcakes come from? Obviously, you know I love them.
My Great Aunt Bertha used to ice her cupcakes the same way we ice our Upcakes today. My mother, Bette, was a tempermental redhead child. It would drive Bertha crazy when she would eat the icing off the cupcakes and throw the rest of the cake away. So one day, so the family story goes, she decided to foil Bette's cake wasting by icing the cupcake on the top AND the sides. The rest is history. We named it the Upcake, and truly expanded the flavors beyond Bertha's vanilla and chocolate. One thing that has been really fun is having our customers send us suggestions for new Upcake flavors.

6. What do people need to know about shipping Upcakes?
This fall we started shipping Upcakes in our specially designed shipping boxes. The results have been fantastic! We've shipped to California, Florida, Maine, Washington State, and all sorts of places in between. The most important thing to remember is to follow the shipping rules. Nothing is more important to us than having your Upcakes arrive fresh. Therefore, we limit shipping transit time to two days. That means that any destination that would take longer than 2 days by UPS ground must be shipped by air. Yes, that does mean that shipping may get expensive, but when you compare a dozen Upcakes to a fairly nominal floral arrangement, we think that there are lots of folks who would really love a dozen Upcakes as much as a bouquet of flowers. We leave it up to the customer. Final Shipping Date for Valentine's Day is February 11, 2008. Final Ordering Date is February 10, 2008, because we'll be baking all day on the 11th. Order anytime now, and just write in the comments to deliver for Valentines day. Ordering early helps us to plan and get supplies. This coming winter, we hope to be featuring our Upcakes on QVC. Boy oh boy, we're going to need a lot more icers!

7. Do you have any winter hours? And when do you open for the year?
Last winter Dixie Picnic was open all year round. We loved our local customers, and we wish we could have made the decision to stay open in the winter. But having a years worth of numbers to guide us, we knew we had to close in order to keep the business healthy. In November and December we had a holiday kiosk at the King of Prussia Mall selling Upcakes and our Dixie Picnic retail line of items. This spring we will most likely be opening in May, although a date has not been finalized yet. I always tell folks to check the website...I try to keep it updated and when I change the hours that is the first thing I do. This summer we are hoping to have a visit by a very well known food show.....shhhh......nothing final yet, but its pretty exciting even at these early stages!

Read more (and order more) at

Digg this

No comments: