Donna and Charlie Smith, proprietors of the popular Gigi's Cupcakes in Bentonville, understand that their products bring big smiles to their patrons. They also believe that, during these trying times, folks could use an excuse to treat themselves to something sweet and delicious. With this in mind, Donna and Charlie have come up with ways to make their yummy creations more easily accessible to their customers. Gigi's Cupcakes is open for business Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. And Gigi's offers a variety of ways you can get your hands on their famous, made-from-scratch creations.
First, you can get take-out inside the store. If you prefer, Donna and Charlie will give you curbside service, so you don't even have to get out of your car. Finally, if you are bunkered down in your home, you can have these delectable delicacies delivered right to your doorstep. Just download the Bite Squad app and go to Gigi's Cupcakes' menun then sit back and wait for your sweet selections to be brought to you.
"We just want our customers to know that we are still here for them," Donna said. "We know the effect our cupcakes have as mood elevators. So we want to give everyone the opportunity to treat themselves to something special."
The original Gigi's opened in Nashville, Tennessee in 2008. Today, with nearly 100 locations nationwide, their one-of-a-kind cupcakes and signature swirl frosting bring happiness and joy to customers throughout many states every day. Bringing joy to their customers was the appeal of this business for Donna and Charlie. The quality and care that goes into every cupcake is the reason for their success.
"We make everything from scratch. Everything," Donna explained. "The cakes, the frosting, everything. Everything is made in house and made fresh every day, too. Nothing brought in from the outside from some other location or frozen."
All of the franchisees have the same recipes but the individual stores get to choose which ones they want to make every day. All of the Gigi's franchises get their supplies and ingredients from the same companies so there is a consistency in the quality. If you order the Vanilla Wedding Cake item at Donna and Charlie's Bentonville location it will be the same cupcake you would get at the flagship Gigi's store in Nashville or anywhere else. A lot of the ingredients are proprietary and special only to Gigi's.
Gigi's corporate is very selective in choosing their franchise owners and the locations, too. The Bentonville store is one of only two locations in Arkansas because the company does not like to overpopulate an area with stores.
Gigi Butler was the creator of Gigi's cupcakes and her story is as unique as her recipes. Gigi was born in Oklahoma and raised in California. At 15 years old she started a cleaning company, determined to have something of her own. Gigi's real dream was to become a singer/songwriter so she put a band together and began doing her own shows and making demo tapes. In 1994, she sold her cleaning business, and with all her bills paid and $500 cash in hand, moved to Nashville. After a fateful phone call from Gigi's brother Steve, her life was altered and Gigi's Cupcakes was born. Although she no longer owns the company, she still is the proprietor of the original store in Nashville.
When Donna comes in every morning she has over 300 recipes from the Gigi's recipe collection to choose from. All are original and unique to Gigi's.
"Every day we bake up about 23 or 24 different varieties for our customers to select from," Donna said. "We also change seasonally featuring two varieties each quarter to reflect the season. Right now, our spring specialties of Banana Cream and Coconut Pie cupcakes are still available."
Gigi's featured summer flavors will be starting in June, including a Pineapple right side up, Hummingbird and a Special Fathers Day cupcake made with stout beer.
The shop will also have special patriotic cupcakes available for Memorial Day and July 4th.
"We have our core recipes that we like to stay with all the time, our vanilla--called Wedding Cake, our chocolate--called Midnight Magic and our strawberry--which is called Strawberry Shortcake," Donna said. "And of course, the ingredients are all fresh. Our Strawberry Shortcake, for instance has real strawberries in both the cake and the frosting."
The Bentonville Gigi's location also features four varieties that have alcohol content, in the cake and the frosting. They also have a selection of vegan and gluten free options.
And Gigi's has more products beyond the cupcakes.
"We also have our own stuffed cookies and homemade brownies that are gooey, chewy and simply fabulous," Donna said.
What might be the most exciting thing of all is that any one of their cupcake recipes can be made into a cake.
"So for birthdays or other events, if you have a favorite cupcake we can turn it into a 6, 8, 10 or 12 inch cake," Donna said. "Not everyone knows that but they sure get excited when they hear that they can create a whole cake out of their favorite Gigi's cupcake."
And is there a favorite cupcake in Northwest Arkansas?
"It is really interesting because it changes week to week," Donna said. "One week our Wedding Cake cupcake is flying off the shelf and the next it could be something else. It kind of rotates. All we know is we haven't found one yet that people don't like."
We asked Donna if, besides the original recipes, there was a secret to making a great cupcake.
"My girls always say we make them with love and that's why they are so special," Donna said. "And I agree. It's a lot of work to come in every day and make up new batches from scratch. Create every single cupcake by hand every day. You have to really love what you are doing. And we most definitely do. And that is our real secret to success."
Gigi's Cupcakes of Bentonville
3410 SE J St Suite 2, Bentonville, AR 72712
Monday-Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
facebook.com/gigisbentonville/NAN Dining Guide Spotlight on 05/17/2020