Running a business at the shore is a huge undertaking no matter what the circumstances. The owners work their tails off from May to October and even so, businesses come and go all the time. You never know what
causes one to hit the sweet spot and feel like a shore institution from the minute its doors open (see under: Red Room Cafe, Ventnor), while others languish awkwardly and then disappear quietly in the off-season. The quirky little Dixie
Picnic in Ocean City, home of the blood orange (and other less menacing varieties of) upcake cupcakes, managed to accomplish the former, settling in nicely three summers ago in its "Home Depot orange" painted cottage (or Miami Dolphins colored, if you factor in the aqua porch) as a favorite stop on the way to the beach on 8th street. But still, the business has ended up a shore casualty, up for sale, closed before the summer even began, a victim of the subprime mortgage morass, the credit crunch and the recession. No upcakes for you this summer, Ocean City! (Although if  you're desperate, go to their store on Route 30 in Malvern, or try online at www. dixiepicnic.com.) From the start, the south-of-the-Mason-Dixon line bakery and lunch spot seemed to have found its niche with a quirky concept: the upcake, an iced upside down cupcake minus the top, and freshmade box lunches, including a yummy chicken salad. They seemed like a player in a town that is a mecca for good lunch spots, especially in the chicken salad sandwich niche. (See under: First on Fourth at First and Asbury and Positively Fourth Street at Fourth and Atlantic, the bastard and now competing children of the old and legendary Fourth Street Cafe, both with yummy organic chicken salad sandwiches and platters.) By the second season, people even seemed to know the answer to the question that had stumped them during the first season: What kind of upcake would you like? (Best answer: buttercream over
chocolate.) Owner Tracey Deschaine, 54, a former nurse, said she was hoping season three would be the one to put them on surer Shore business financial footing. "I liken it to a creeping vine. It takes awhile to become an institution at the shore. The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps." But before she could get to the leaping part, . Having purchased the building at $480,000 on the understanding that she'd be able to leverage that to help finance operations and provide cash flow, she now found herself turned down by any number of financial lending
institutions. Out of cash, busy in Malvern, Deschaine says she had no choice but to put the building up for sale and focus on Malvern. All this in a town that was named the fifth best spot in the country to open a restaurant by the Nielson Claritas Restaurant Growth Index. If only. Deschaine says she wishes the financial backing had been there
to keep the place open at the shore. "I've been getting emails and phone calls from all over, Washington, New York, saying will you be open this weekend? It breaks my heart."