The family cake recipes Gina Butler grew up with, such as Texas milk chocolate and apple spice, have come home to Oklahoma.
Butler, an Oklahoma native, recently expanded her Nashville-based chain of cupcake stores to Oklahoma City. Gigi's Cupcakes, at 14101 N May Ave., has been serving about 1,000 cupcakes a day.
The tiny bakery makes cupcakes â€” nothing else â€” and sells the colorful treats topped with a giant icing swirl for $3 each. It is one of 26 stores nationwide and the first in the state.
Forty flavors, including Peanut Butter Cup, Champagne and Hunka Chunka Banana Love (Gigi's personal favorites), rotate daily and are baked fresh in the store. Leftovers are donated to area hospitals and police and fire stations each night, said J. Brent Clark, who co-owns the Oklahoma City store with his business partner, Teresa Alikhani.
The pair discovered Gigi's Cupcakes on a trip to Nashville, Tenn., and were so enamored with the concept, they wanted to open a franchise when they returned.
â€œI felt Oklahoma City would be a wonderful city for fresh cupcakes. But it has turned out even better than we expected,â€ said Clark, who also is an attorney. He's scouting locations in Norman for a second store.
Butler opened the first Gigi's Cupcakes in Nashville in February 2008, with just $33 in her checking account.
â€œFour banks laughed in my face, even with good credit,â€ she said. So she took out $100,000 worth of cash advances on her credit cards and held her breath.
She's now set to open her 30th store by Valentine's Day â€” the company's busiest day.
And she's got more than just cupcakes in the oven. Butler, 40, is expecting her first child in May.
Butler was born in Lawton but spent her childhood on a farm in California. As a teen, she started a cleaning company, then moved to Nashville to pursue a country music career.
After years of singing in clubs until the wee hours of the morning, Butler hung up her singing hat but continued her cleaning business.
She decided to open the first cupcake shop in Nashville after her brother stood in line for two hours for a cupcake in New York and declared they weren't as good as Butler's.
Many of the cupcake recipes at Gigi's cupcakes are culled from family favorites made by her, her great-aunt or mother.
â€œWhen you take a bite of my cupcakes, you feel home again,â€ Butler said. â€œWe've lost the art of home cooking, but people still crave it.â€