It was a dreary and overcast day on South High Street of West Chester but that didn’t stop people from getting their coffee and cupcakes from Dia Doce & Cathey’s Coffee Bar. A small line forms in front of the shop’s window where you place your order. There are signs outside that list the special flavors of cupcakes being served today with an Spring/Easter theme with choices such as Lemon Lavender, Carrot, Easter Egg Cream and the Cottontail. The coffee menu includes Iced Blue Peep Latte, Katherine’s Rose Matcha and Cadbury Egg Mocha. The inside of the shop is closed off to the public but as I stepped into the shop to interview its founder Thais da Silva Viggue; I remember a time before covid-19 where I sat in this beautiful café at the coffee bar enjoying a French Toast cupcake and a hot latte. The servers were warm and welcoming and any time a customer came in they knew their name and would ask them how they were doing. It amazed that despite Winning Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and being #1 on Philly’s Hotlist and Best of Mainline, Dia Doce still manages to give off the friendly and comforting charm of a small-town café and also a successful and in high demand cupcake franchise. Despite being busy with prepping for the Easter orders that are being placed, Thais took the time to meet with me to talk about how she first started Dia Doce and what it’s been like building a name for herself and her cupcakes.
What made you want to start your business? Did you have any inspirations?
- Thais: What started the business is I had a baby, quit my job in fashion, was at home and made cake truffles. My husband took them to the hair salon, and they were a hit! So, it was inspired by the birth him.
Did you start with a cupcake truck and built your way up to where you are today. Can you tell me about your experience with that? How you decided to start where you did, what it was like starting out and looking back on where you are now?
- Thais: We started out of a home kitchen in New York city, then moved to Pennsylvania ten years ago, started out of a food truck and then moved into a shop. It was very laid back in the very beginning. I had no idea that it would actually turn into something like this. It was more so like a way to do something cool and something I enjoyed as well as being a mom. It actually took a wildly busy turn after we were in Cupcake Wars and it just kept growing. So now it is all-consuming obviously there’s a lot of us now. I mean, we’ve grown. It’s awesome. Its mind-blowing to me. I still don’t believe it to be honest with you.
Speaking of Cupcake wars, what was that like?
- Thais: Surreal, like it doesn’t even feel like it happened. It was 2013 when it aired. So it’s been quite a while now. It was terrifying to me because I’m like camera-shy and hate getting my picture taken you know. But it was an awesome totally new experience for me.
Covid-19 has been hard on all of us. What difficulties have you faced as a result? What solutions did you come up with to keep yourselves afloat?
- Thais: I think the hardest part for myself and Cathey (Cathey owns the coffee bar) is that we built our business really on personal relationships. So, people coming in here was our way of connecting to them, we love our customers and it’s like we know everything about them. The hardest part is that we had to switch over to serving them through our window which has worked perfectly. However, the point of contact is one human to another at the front window. There’s no cheersy kind of feel to it. Like we used to be called the Cheers coffee shop. You know like the TV show Cheers, it’s like where everyone comes in, they hang out and stay a while. Now its like one on one, they get their order and go. Which is convenient for people so that’s been great. But as far as the lack of human interaction that’s really hard compared to what it used to be because that’s like what we pride ourselves in.
What advice would you give to young women who want to start their own business or become entrepreneurs?
- Thais: I would say pick something that you absolutely love because you are going sacrifice a lot of other things in your life to build your business. Also make sure you find an awesome support system, so make sure everyone around you knows what your goals are and the people who love you will stick around and help you. It’s all about support and sacrifice in my opinion.
What would you say is your favorite flavor you serve? They are all amazing.
- Thais: I literally change my favorite all the time. It changes like every month I love the brown sugar cake, lemon mint, marshmallow.
Do you have any funny stories/experiences you’d like to share?
- Thais: Honestly, oh my god, I do not even know. Every day is an experience because Cathy’s my mother-in-law so it is a family business and as you can imagine things have never been normal. We have been here almost 10 years, so we got so many funny moments as a business owner. We bicker a lot, but we make up really quick. (“We have people who come and make their own coffee!” -someone shouts) Yes! Very random people here (laughs) customers come in to make their own coffee, there’s one right there doing it now. He also babysits our dogs and were really grateful!
After the interview I was treated to some fresh cupcakes on the house (a surprise I was not expecting but extremely grateful for!) with amazing flavors such as lemon lavender, chocolate peanut butter and the cottontail which Cathy proclaimed I couldn’t leave without and it was easy to see why! I was most excited for the lemon lavender because I have been dying to try to it for a while now and boy did it live up to the hype. The cake had the most amazing citrusy taste and the lavender paired perfectly with it to give it a unique flora taste. It even had a cream stuffed center which was a nice surprise to bite into. So if your ever in desperate need of a caffeine and sugar rush, or maybe need an order of cupcakes for a special occasion or get together Dia Doce is the place to go!
To learn more about Dia Doce visit: http://www.diadoce.com/