Ascent Equity Capital has given $1.5 million to launch Phoebe’s Cupcakes, a bakeshop run by Chicagoans Phoebe Walters and Kate McNamara. Why would a firm with a portfolio of banking and legal startups fund a bakeshop? Apparently, general partner Chad Mollman is a huge fan of the duo’s mint chocolate chip cupcakes.

Such a fan, in fact, that the firm is backing what will eventually become a chain of stores in several cities, offering 200 flavors of the trendy dessert. Mollman told VentureWire that he probably bought 200 cupcakes a year from Walters and McNamara himself. Ascent plans to invest $50,000 to $100,000 in each shop.

While all the cupcakes are hand-made in small, individualized batches, Walters and McNamara don’t do all the baking themselves. They’ve enlisted a team of culinary school-trained cooks to grow the business. The plan is to offer the full menu for special events and to restaurants that might be interested in buying in bulk. There is also a mail-order delivery service in the works.

Ascent is a pretty small firm, managing a fund of about $5 million. A cupcake chain might seem unusual, but Mollman seems to have faith in his taste, telling VentureWire that with the potential for event catering and wholesale distribution, “There’s a lot of other opportunity there.”

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