Little Lake County had the pleasure of visiting a new cupcake shop that was just opening in Wilmette. I was able to meet some fabulous people, including the founder of Gigi’s Cupcakes herself, Gigi Butler! Oh, and did I mention that I also got to stuff my face with cupcakes all night? Oh yes I did! Gigi’s Cupcakes Chicago-Wilmette opened just recently in a storefront plaza right off of Lake Street, not a far drive from the border of Lake County. It’s bright signage and delicious aromas wafting out are hard to miss, and when you walk into the shop, you are immediately engulfed in the warmth and personality of Gigi’s Cupcakes.
A shop adorned in hot pink and white–with glass cases filled with the most beautiful cupcake creations you have most likely ever seen–are the first things you will see before you are warmly greeted by the staff of this new establishment. The Yaccino family are the local owners, and take the philosophy of a cupcake shop that bakes from the heart seriously. Their shop feels like a small, local family business, completely unaware that Gigi’s Cupcakes, started by Gigi Butler, is now a successful chain with over 102 locations across the U.S. Although the shops are spreading out across the map, this shop can take pride that they are the first Illinois shop to open.
Gigi Butler started Gigi’s cupcakes in 2007 after her brother called her from a two hour wait in line at a cupcake shop in New York City.
“You should open a cupcake shop in Nashville!” he told her. “These cupcakes aren’t even as good as yours and moms!”
And with that, Gigi’s Cupcakes was born. It wasn’t an easy road though. Struggling with bills and unexpected hardships, Gigi finally opened her doors and began her baking franchise from the heart, with good quality ingredients, that has helped her open over 100 locations in 23 states as of now.
Now…back to the cupcakes! I was invited to an event to preview the shop before the official grand opening two days later. We were able to socialize with the founder, local owners and bakers, and, of course, taste the delicious cupcake creations!
The Strawberry Shortcake cupcake was the first one up, and with bits of strawberry speckled through the cake and creamy strawberry buttercream piled high on the top, it was one that I could see myself coming back for. The Triple Chocolate Torte was one of my personal favorites, tasting like a decadent brownie–I barely realized it was flourless! The Scarlett’s Red Velvet cupcake was another delight, showing off moist red velvet cake with a swirl of cream cheese frosting. The decorative heart adorning the top was the perfect finishing touch.
Coming in a close tie with the Triple Chocolate Torte was the Apple Pie Cupcake. Consisting of cinnamon-laced cake, with a chunky apple filling and a cinnamon cream cheese frosting, this cupcake pretty much came close to eating a slice of your favorite apple pie…but in cupcake form! Their best seller, Wedding Cake, is the simplest creation of vanilla cake with buttercream frosting, but the flavors are magnificent and the look of it is so elegant, it would be perfect for any occasion.
Notice something else unique about Gigi’s Cupcakes? Well, it is the signature Gigi swirl! Gigi’s Cupcakes employees spend two weeks in Nashville training for their job, and much of the time is spent perfecting the swirl. It is a pillowy swirl of frosting that adorns almost every cupcake in the shop, and believe me, it is not an easy technique! I had the pleasure of trying it out with Gigi there, and it takes some practice. You know that every cupcake Gigi sells you is crafted with perfection.
We were lucky enough to sample many of Gigi’s cheesecakes as well. All were delicious, and each boasted a different texture than your traditional cheesecake. Covered in various toppings like cherry, blueberry, turtle, and butterscotch, you really cannot go wrong with whatever you choose! Gigi’s Cupcakes offers pies and breads as well, and if you want my recommendation, go with the pumpkin white chocolate bread. I am someone that doesn’t even enjoy white chocolate, but this bread, with the white chocolate melted into the moist pumpkin bread, was a delight. They offer cookies, too, and their menu changes almost every day with new additions and special cupcakes
Gigi’s Cupcakes also offers custom cakes and cupcake orders. They always have gluten-free options, and they even have vegan cupcakes by special order as well. These owners are truly connected with the community and feel a strong bond to their customers. It was evident in their beautiful shop and the way they treated people that walked in the door. This cupcake shop is definitely worth the trip. If you drive all the way there…you definitely deserve to treat yourself with a cupcake…or two!