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Celebrations are sweeter with treats from The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery

Posted January 18, 2015

Sara Fitzpatrick takes work home every night, but don't feel too bad for her. For Fitzpatrick, work is cupcakes.

Fitzpatrick is the mom of two and owner of The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery, which opened nearly eight years ago along Glenwood South near downtown Raleigh. The spot is known for its scratch-made cupcakes and other treats. Customers come in for just a cupcake and coffee or leave with an order for everything from birthday cakes and cupcakes to elaborate wedding cakes. She's now offering private birthday party packages too.

"I get as much satisfaction from piping the cupcakes that go in the case as doing those big orders or wedding shows," Fitzpatrick said. "We are blessed to be helping people with their celebrations."

Cupcake boutique owner wasn't always part of the career plan for Fitzpatrick, a Raleigh native and N.C. State graduate. For seven years, she worked in corporate sales for Johnson & Johnson. She was hopping across the country with work-related travel and moves. A family of her own wasn't in the immediate works for her, but it was on her mind. So was being back in North Carolina.

Fitzpatrick's aunt is a caterer who made wedding cakes. Fitzpatrick had helped with the business. She'd also spent lots of time baking for friends and family. The next chapter of Fitzpatrick's career was sealed with a little buttercream when she walked into a cupcake shop in New York while visiting a girlfriend.

"It was really the first time that I'd seen anything like it," she said of the shop.

She returned to Raleigh that Thanksgiving and drove around the city one day, scouting locations just for fun. She drove by the space on Glenwood Avenue that would become home to her business that weekend. Eighteen months later, The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery opened.

It's been a busy 7 1/2 years since the shop opened. Glenwood South has become a bustling destination filled with shops, restaurants, bars and towering condominiums. Cupcakes went big around 2009 with TV shows, cookbooks and national chains sprouting up. And Fitzpatrick married and welcomed two little boys into her life, now ages 3 and 18 months.

But Fitzpatrick said she's worked hard to stick to her original vision for the store: Providing scratch-made treats, using whole and, if possible, local ingredients. Nothing is frozen. No powders are used. Fitzpatrick often starts with family recipes as she develops the latest flavor. About a dozen are typically available to walk-in customers at the shop. About 100 flavors are available for special orders.

And she's expanded her offerings to breakfast breads, granola, cookies, ice cream sandwiches in the summer, homemade hot chocolate mix and marshmallows in the winter, and cheesecake bites. She also has some gluten-free offerings.

Her work life has changed since she became a mom. In addition to the cupcakes she brings home (she splits one with her husband most nights), she also brings paperwork along with her. And she's learned to delegate more to her staff. It's allowed her the kind of flexibility that she knew she'd want when she was working in the corporate world.

"I can't imagine going back to a corporate job and working for someone else," she said.

Fitzpatrick has plans for growth. She'd like to add an espresso machine to the shop so that she can expand her coffee options. Right now, the store has just drip coffee. And she'd like to continue to boost her large orders from local companies. She's excited about now offering private cupcake decorating parties for kids on Sundays when the shop is usually closed.

After more than seven years in business, Fitzpatrick said she still loves watching daddy-daughter pairs visiting for their weekly cupcake date, couples picking out their wedding cakes or expecting parents eager to cut into their gender reveal cakes.

"It's been really sweet to be part of their stories," she said.

The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery is at 104 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh. It's open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday.

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.



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