At the risk of looking like a total and complete dork (not to mention a fool!), I thought I’d post some pretty idiotic photographs that I took on my very first trip to New York. At the time I was completely obsessed with Katie Holmes. This was in December of 2005, in the pre-Suri days, before her Jackie O. transformation, back when she was known as Katie, not Kate. A few months before my trip to New York, Katie was featured in a cover story for InStyle Magazine which chronicled her new single gal status, her life in Manhattan, and her favorite NYC hangouts. Most of the photo shoot for the article took place in Chelsea at Katie’s favorite bakery and cupcakery, Billy’s – a place she frequented almost daily at the time. As Tom once said about his wife, “She loves cupcakes, okay? I mean the girl loves cupcakes.” 🙂 Well, I absolutely LOVED that InStyle article. So much so that my copy of that issue is still sitting on my bookshelf all these years later. So, on my first trip to the big apple, I just HAD to drag my boyfriend out to Chelsea to stalk Katie’s fave cupcake maker. And, while there, I also just had to recreate her photo shoot. Yes, I am that big of a dork. 🙂 LOL
The story behind Billy’s is actually quite an unusual one. Billy Reece, a cupcake aficionado who idolized Martha Stewart, founded Billy’s Bakery with two partners in December of 2003. Billy started his baking career working at the ever-popular Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich for two years before quitting to begin his own baked goods venture. Billy’s Bakery became an overnight success. Not long afterwards Billy Reece changed his name to Lauren Reece and, thanks to some hormone treatments and a surgery, Billy ceased to be. Shortly after that, Lauren sold her stake in Billy’s to her two co-founders, Marc and Wayne, and is now enjoying her new life as a woman. So, in a city where change seems to be the only constant, it’s only fitting that not even a popular cupcake bakery’s namesake could remain the same.
But even without the original Billy at the helm, the small bakery has remained a success. The owners are currently planning to expand their business with another location in the same neighborhood. I can’t help but think that Katie may have had something to do with the shop’s blitz of success. Even after she met Tom and moved back to L.A., Katie remained faithful to the bakery. Billy’s not only supplied the cupcakes for Katie’s 27th birthday party at F.A.O. Schwartz in December of 2005, but they also reportedly made the cake for her 2006 wedding. But Katie is certainly not Billy’s only celebrity fan. Ethan Hawke, Mandy Moore, and Bungalow 8 club founder Amy Sacco are also fans of the neighborhood bakery. Billy’s has also been featured on Queer Eye For the Straight Guy, MTV Diary Katie Holmes, The Today Show, MTV’s Boiling Point, the CBS Early Show, the Food Network’s Roker On The Road, and Martha Stewart’s television show Martha.
Billy’s Bakery is an adorable little cupcake shop and with its yellow painted brick walls and cute and homey decor, it looks like it came straight out of a kitchen advertisement from the 1940s. I wanted to spend all day there. 🙂 But while the cupcakes were tasty, I have to say that they are just not as good as my, and SJP’s, New York fave Magnolia Bakery. But I still highly recommend stalking Billy’s, as much for the homey ambiance as for the desserts. Besides cupcakes, they also serve pies and cakes, which are supposed to be out of this world, as well.
Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂
Stalk It: Billy’s Bakery is located at 184 9th Avenue in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. You can visit their website here.