Business

Follow-Up File: Hot dog! Mud Fudge to expand

Name: Maggie Urias

Job: Owner

Business: Morro Bay Mud Fudge and Hot Dogs on Harbor (formerly Hot Dog Factory)

What she said then: In January 2009, The Tribune featured Maggie Urias, the fourth owner of Morro Bay Mud Fudge.

Urias and her husband, John, acquired the business in June 2005. At that time it sold a dozen flavors wholesale.

“When I bought it, it was poking along on only two days a week,” she said.

The couple moved the business to its cozy storefront on Main Street, a space they remodeled to include both a commercial kitchen and retail.

What she says now: With thriving wholesale and retail demand and a new web site, Morro Bay Mud Fudge has outgrown its current location.

Last November, the couple opened Hot Dogs on Harbor, located in the same complex at 898 Main St. The space was formerly occupied by Hot Dog Factory, which closed.

By April 1, the fudge store will close and the hot dog shop will also sell Mud Fudge candy.

“My shop is very, very small,” Urias said. “If I get more than two or three people in there, they walk out. I’ve lost customers. That is something you do not want to see in retail.”

But before she closes, Urias will again sell the Ukrainian Easter eggs she imports. The popular item sold out last year.

Her hope is to find a larger space and reopen the retail store within six months, before the peak holiday season. She also aims to add candy-making classes.

“Now’s a very good time to rent, because there’s a lot of space available,” she said. “Mud Fudge is not going to disappear. It’s only going to get bigger and better.”

In the meantime, she’ll work to boost her wholesale and online businesses to provide cash flow for the expansion. She’ll make fudge in the early morning hours from the hot dog shop’s kitchen.

The businesses employ five people, including the owners.

Mud Fudge now produces more than 60 flavors. Special lines include fudge made with agave sweetener instead of sugar, and vampire and werewolf flavors aimed at teens.

“We’re going to ride this vampire wave,” Urias said. “We’re (also) going to be moving more in the wine-chocolate direction.”

Dragon Lake Grill at Lake Nacimiento Resort has hired Mud Fudge to make desserts and chocolates for special events.

Urias’ wares will also be served with Frolicking Frog Wines at the upcoming Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival.

She has plans to produce vegan fudge, as well as sugar skulls in the traditional Mexican style.

To drive traffic to her new site at www.mudfudge.com, Urias is learning social networking via Facebook.

“An Internet site is a retail site,” she said. “It’s a lot like a shop. You have to be working at it. It’s not enough to have it, if you’re not there connected to others. That’s where we’re moving.”

— Raven J. Railey

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