RICHMOND, Va. -- Fat Rabbit bakery owner Ellyn Hopper transitioned from working for others to becoming a full-time business owner near the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
"So I had been doing wedding cakes along the side of working a full-time baking job for other companies," Hopper, who previously worked at Richmond spots like WPA Bakery and Stella's Market, said. "When the pandemic hit, I was less comfortable working in a huge kitchen setting. So I pulled back and I decided to invest a little bit more in Fat Rabbit, and it just seemed to work."
In the early months of the pandemic, Hopper was baking out of her home kitchen and making cake deliveries all over town.
"There were some days where I was making 10 to 15 deliveries daily, of different orders," she said about the early days of her business. "I just got into this weird little at-home rhythm where I'd wake up really early, bake like crazy, and then around 4 p.m. just head out and drive to people's houses and drop off."
"I think the time was right. People were home. They wanted comfort food and things that were going to make them feel happy."
Fat Rabbit quickly outgrew Hopper's home kitchen, so she moved the operation to a much large space at the South Richmond-based community commercial kitchen Hatch.
"I usually describe it as like a push or get pushed off the ledge moment," she said about the decision to move into the larger kitchen. "It's like, this is happening and the snowball is already rolling down the hill. So just get in there and just go for it."
Fast forward two years and Hopper has opened a standalone Fat Rabbit bakery in the Church Hill/Union Hill neighborhood.
The Venable Street bakery's soft opening earlier this summer created long lines down the block.
"It was personally one of the best days of my life. The neighborhood came out. Richmond came out to support us. We open the doors to a line down the block. We planned to be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and I think we sold out by 11. So it was really quite an incredible day," Hopper said. "I haven't fully wrapped my head around it yet just how wonderful it was. We felt so much support from neighbors all over."
Hopper said she has been overwhelmed by the community's support and hopes to meet even more neighbors in the coming weeks.
"I just love Richmond. I love all of the people here and the diversity of everybody," she said. "We just want this to be a second home for people. I think there's sometimes hesitancy about coming and sitting down in a place for a couple hours. But like, we love that! Come hang out with us, chat with us, get to know us so we can get to know you as well."
And once you're there, Hopper has some ordering suggestions.
"I am always most proud of my cakes. They are the heart and soul behind this bakery. I like to invest really heavily in creative flavors and good quality and well-tasting cakes. We prefer to use flavors that are not very artificial and things that are found in nature. The way that we construct and decorate our cakes, I feel, is very unique and just reflects that inspiration from nature," she said. "Since opening the bakery though, our most popular items have been Hop Tarts, which are our version of Pop Tarts. Also our dark chocolate olive oil cookies, as well as our rotating daily items like buckles or coffee cakes."
You can find out more about Fat Rabbit's hours of operation and menu here.
EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews