Five years ago, Oklahoma-born and California-raised Gigi Butler received a call from her brother in New York City who told her a cupcake craze was taking over the Big Apple. At the time, she owned a cleaning company, which she began at age 15. That entrepreneurial spirit — and confidence inspired from a long line of female family bakers — led her to light her ovens. Butler opened the initial Gigi’s Cupcakes in Nashville, Tenn., and four years later, her franchise has grown into more than 60 locations in 23 states. In January, Gigi’s opened on Burkhardt Road next to Edible Arrangements and Panera Bread, and is locally owned by Evansville native Lauren Nicholson.
The shop is decorated in stylish pink and brown, and a sugar and cake batter-induced aroma greets each customer. Manager Dawn Stuart credits the cupcakery’s success on its employees’ small-business mindset. “We put so much time into our cupcakes,” she says, “and in a way, we operate very much like a family.”
Butler’s homemade recipes are a collaboration of her family and individual creations, and each supersized confection ($3.25 each) stands nearly 4 inches. The continually-offered flavors — wedding cake, chocolate midnight magic, and birthday surprise — share the display cabinets with 10 daily and seasonal flavors including caramel sugar mama, Kentucky bourbon pie, merry margarita, and white chocolate raspberry frappe. Each week, Gigi’s produces more than 35 variations.
I tried the peanut butter cup, and like all of Gigi’s desserts, it arrives almost too perfectly decorated to devour. The sweet aroma of peanut butter eventually got the better of me. The cupcake’s swirly mound of rich and ultra-smooth peanut butter frosting — topped with honey roasted peanuts and drizzled with chocolate ganache — sits 2 1/2 inches atop the moist milk chocolate cake. Its high frosting-to-cake ratio creates a challenge for bite taking (I opted for a fork), but the blend of creamy peanut butter and fluffy cake is worth the effort.
New to Gigi’s are their mini cupcakes ($1.25) and cheesecake cupcakes ($3.75). This month begins their fall menu, which includes flavors such as English toffee, pumpkin cream, and peanut butter and jelly.
Gigi’s Cupcakes is located at 236 N. Burkhardt Road. For more information on their fall and weekly cupcake menus, call 812-437-9149 or visit www.gigiscupcakesusa.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; until 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; closed Sundays.