It's hard enough to stand out in New York City, where you're forced to share the spotlight with everyone from the Naked Cowboy to top chefs. It's even harder to get noticed when your business doesn't have an advertising strategy, a social media presence or an English website. But despite all this, one small Manhattan bakery has managed to generate buzz in the Big Apple based on the strength of its name alone.
It's called, simply, The Best Chocolate Cake in the World.
The mini-chain, which started with one store in Lisbon before opening six locations in Brazil, launched its first U.S. outpost on Friday. Even before the grand opening, the bakery's name was inciting the city's foodie community. It got the kind of media attention most business owners can only dream of, with mentions in both The New York Times and New York magazine.
During its opening weekend, hoards of hungry choco-holics lined up to find out if there was any truth to the name, eating 400 cakes total. With the mad rush of opening weekend behind him, New York owner Adriano Lucas spoke with Inc.com reporter Issie Lapowsky to find out how branding his product as "the best" in a city of millions can actually work.
How did this name come into existence?
Chef Carlos Braz Lopes opened a restaurant 24 years ago in Portugal. He wanted to have a special chocolate cake [on his menu]. He actually saw a cake in Paris that he really liked, but he couldn't just do it the same, so he came up with his own recipe. The cake started to get famous. People would order the cake and then call, saying, ‘This really is the best cake I've ever had.' The cake started making it's own name with the clients, and [Carlos] saw that there was an opportunity for another business. He decided to open a small bakery shop, and since the fans already knew the cake by that name, he thought, 'I can't call it anything else.' That's how the name came to be.
What's your relationship to Chef Carlos?
I'm a family friend of Carlos, and I've known him for many years since Portugal. I moved to New York four years ago to work in investment banking. I eventually approached Carlos about the business, because I thought there was space for the product in New York. It's so unique, and it's unlike any usual chocolate cake here. He was very receptive of the idea.
Now that you've partnered with him to bring the store to New York, how'd you get the name out?
We contacted a few members of the press, and people were very interested. We are in a very high-traffic location, too. People started talking about it right away...New York magazine actually found us by just walking on the street and inquiring about us. It catches the attention of people, but what we put all our energy into is the quality of the product, because a name like this could not survive for as many years as the cake has survived without the product behind it.
How was opening weekend?
The opening weekend went very well. We had a lot of volume, and the reaction about the product was very good, which is most important. I think people read about us and came on purpose, but a lot of people just walked by and they saw that we're new, and they had some curiosity.
Curiosity about whether or not the name fits the product?
What's your advertising strategy now?
We don't have an advertising strategy per se. It's more through word of mouth from people who enjoy the product. That's what happened in other countries, and it's what we hope happens here.