"My family is very gregarious and loud," Hoffman said. "But my niece was the shy one. And for years, we baked cupcakes — it was our own special thing."
Just as Hoffman was showing Sara Brinson how to create a carrot design atop a cupcake, the 18-year-old made a vow to her aunt: "You and I are going to run a cupcake shop together someday." Hoffman was puzzled — she repeated what Brinson said to make sure she heard her correctly.
"Yeah," Brinson said, "that's all you and I know how to do."
The next day, Brinson died from sudden cardiac arrest. Three months later, Hoffman was watching "Jimmy Kimmel Live" when she heard the host discuss the reason he loved Los Angeles — the city's cupcake bakeries. Hoffman called her sister Dana, Sara's mother, after the late-night show was over and pitched Sara Brinson's idea. Dana Brinson reminded Hoffman they didn't know how to operate a bakery.
"I don't care," Hoffman said, "I made a promise — we'll figure it out."
Sara Sara Cupcakes, 7 NW 9, is that promise come true. Along with 18 types of cupcakes, Hoffman offers seasonal choices and a milk bar.
No, you won’t find any droogs hanging about it, but you will be handed a chilled glass and directed to a dispenser, the likes of which are nowhere else to be found in the state, that maintains its chocolate, strawberry and regular milk at 35 degrees.
The project, Hoffman said, has given the family a chance to honor Sara Brinson and also gather and heal their grief.
"We're going to make cupcakes, have some fun, and see what happens," Hoffman said. "Yes, it's crazy. This was Sara's idea. I'm just carrying it out."