Retirement is usually a time to take it easy… slow down… and maybe take up a relaxing hobby. But Ray Boutwell – accomplished carpenter, portrait-painter, World War II veteran, and grandfather of two – got bored. And so at 93, he decided to embark on what he felt would delay the obituary and ensure longevity of life – he was going to make cupcakes.
Baking has figured prominently in Boutwell’s life. In his youth, his mother, Caroline Boutwell, would often bake 11 loaves of bread every other day for the large Boutwell family. The matriarch made doughnuts as well, and hand-cranked home-made ice cream on summer weekends.
Boutwell recalled his early experiences in the baking industry. “I got a job at McClintock’s bakery in Haddonfield as a pan washer. I’d go in an hour early, so I could work with the bakers and learn. I was there 11 years.” He then worked for Holly Bakery, before operating his own business – Boutwell’s Pastry Shop — for 18 years.
“I was mostly known for my miniature pastries and cookies, and I made a great Philadelphia butter cake. I got that recipe off of a guy I worked for at Rhawn and Verree in the Northeast. He got the recipe from someone else. I’ve got an old German recipe for cheesecake that uses cottage cheese, too.”
Though he closed his store in 1990 to retire, Boutwell worked during holidays for a Bellmawr bakery, and then as a decorator for Tiffany’s Bakery, where he stayed for 10 years. “They never wanted me to quit. I worked there until I was 75.”
When his wife died in 2012, Ray tried to stay busy, but he knew he needed to stay active. “I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to do something more physical, or I’m going to pass.’”
And now Boutwell has dusted off the cobwebs of retirement to make cupcakes. But these aren’t ordinary cupcakes! Ray’s Boozy Cupcakes were inspired by liquor-laced sweets he read in a magazine in his cardiologist’s office.
“I’ve got about 20 flavors, some for vanilla cupcakes and some for chocolate. I do one with tequila, I call it a ‘sunrise,’ another I call ‘sherry cherry,’ some with blueberry vodka, and one with a hazelnut filling and Angelica liqueur.”
When the idea came to him, Boutwell began renovating the storefront and kitchen space in Southgate Plaza on Haddonfield-Berlin Road in Voorhees, New Jersey. At first, his daughter, Rosana Boutwell Mawson, thought that the business venture was a terrible idea. “I said, ‘No, you can’t do that.”
But her father persisted. “He decided that he needed to do this and he feels very compelled to do it. He found the place, he’s done a lot of the hand work himself, and he’s hired a baker, a decorator, and a [counter] person.”
Boutwell related, “Well, I could tell that she was deeply concerned. And I understood that.” Money became an issue as he invested heavily in the bakery. He said that his house is “mortgaged up to the hilt. Savings gone, too. But what the hell is money? Money is nothing.”
It is evident though, that the business may contribute to longevity of life, as Boutwell intended. Each day he gets up at 4 o’clock, and his staff can hardly keep up. “Now I work eight, nine, sometimes 10 hours a day in the new place, and I really feel great.”
Sales are good and Boutwell is paying off his mortgage. “We ran out of everything,” he said. “They started out buying like one or two — now they buy ’em by the dozen.”
Even though he doesn’t drink himself, Ray’s boozy cupcakes have been a hit! Business is so good that he just signed a lease for a space next door, though it won’t be for cupcakes. “I’m going to make ice cream on the level of Ben and Jerry’s. I’m not the average guy.” Boutwell plans to call his next venture Caroline’s Ice Cream, in memory of his mother.
Keeping busy with something that you enjoy, at any age, may be the key to longevity of life after all.
Watch the feature video below about the new business owner below: