Tiny Dog Cupcake in downtown Evanston closes due to lack of business

Alexandria Johnson

Northwestern students will now have one fewer option to satisfy their craving for sweets.

Tiny Dog Cupcake, 616 Davis St., has officially closed its doors due to a lack of business, according to former employees.

On Dec. 28, Tiny Dog tweeted the announcement, a decision that came 13 months after the bakery opened.

“Running the business was as hard as everyone always said it was, and the economy the way it is now, I think it just didn’t work out,” manager Michelle Rogers said.

Rogers, a SESP junior, began working for Tiny Dog in May as supplemental income to an unpaid summer internship in the Evanston area.

She said some of the non-NU employees depended on Tiny Dog as their primary source of income, including a full-time manager, baker and froster.

“It’s sad that it had to close, but I hope that it closed because it really needed to – not that it wasn’t as fun as it was expected to be – because there were people that really depended on that to make their living,” Rogers said.

Assistant manager Jalisa Jones, 19, of Chicago, began working full-time at Tiny Dog in March. She is hunting for a job in the restaurant business.

“It was basically the job I was using to pay my rent,” Jones said. “I’m sad that it’s gone, but it was a great experience. I was happy I got to be a part of it.”

Tiny Dog frequently worked with NU organizations for fundraisers. Communication junior Emily Lane worked with Tiny Dog for Homecoming 2011 and an Alpha Chi Omega philanthropy event.

“As a whole, the management was always very excited to help the NU community,” Lane said.

Communication junior Sarah Weber worked directly with owner Rob Mockard, who graduated from NU in 2004, for the Alpha Chi Omega event.

“Rob was so ready to help us out and negotiate with our budget and our needs, and he was just really enthusiastic,” Weber said. “Everyone we worked with there was great.”

Mockard could not be reached for comment.

He told The Daily in October the bakery was striving to become more of a student destination. Lane occasionally visited the eatery this quarter and noted NU students studying in the cupcake shop.

“They were really making a huge effort to reach out to NU students and have a Starbucks-y feel,” Lane said.

Weber also frequented Tiny Dog on special occasions. She reminisced about her experience eating the cupcakes with friends while watching the royal wedding last year.

“I’m very sad that it closed, but I’m not entirely surprised,” Weber said. “It’s not a dig at the establishment at all or anyone that worked there, but I just think it didn’t quite fit.”

Some neighboring storefronts also closed recently, an issue that has been noted among other Davis Street businesses. Giordano Dance School, formerly located next to Tiny Dog, relocated in June.

“(The business closures) are affecting the area,” said Hassib Blan, owner of The Olive Mountain, 610 Davis St. “It was surprising for us to see (Giordano) move.”

Some Tiny Dog Cupcake customers were loyal to neighboring eateries on Davis Street.

“Sometimes people would carry in cupcakes and still eat in here,” said Sonia Zhu, employee at Phoenix Inn, 608 Davis St.

Tiny Dog’s closing impacts nearby Davis Street businesses, as well as restaurants throughout Evanston, said Maria Vitalis, manager at Austin’s Tacos, 622 Davis St.

“It always upsets us when we see a business close,” Vitalis said. “We like to see openings in the area. We definitely want to help the Evanston area become a spot to come to eat at all the restaurants in the area.”

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