Cupcakes are a preferable alternative to birthday cakes, whose constant accompaniment by off-key singing has depleted the planet’s finite supply of forced smiles. Garner genuine grins with today's Groupon: for $5, you get $10 worth of gourmet cupcakes and Italian soda at Starz Cupcakes. Choose between two locations: Capitola or the new satellite location at Yogizmo Yogurt Company in Santa Cruz. Italian soda is only available at the Capitola location.
Starz Cupcakes staff handcrafts 204 types of sweet cupcakes from scratch daily using family recipes dating back more than 200 years, earning Best Cupcakes accolades in the 2010 Good Times' Critics’ Picks. Preservative-free regular size ($3.50) and mini ($2) cupcakes populate a rotating menu of more than 19 varieties, including gluten-free and sugar-free options for patrons with dietary restrictions or Oompa Loompa–based sugar phobias. Guests sink sweet teeth into flavors such as chocolate peanut butter or a red-velvet cake transmuted into teal, purple, or the hues of the northern lights. An italian soda at the Capitola location can wash away evidence of a chocolate-frosting faceplant or escort one of 24 types of savory cupcakes to make a dessert-meal hybrid. The store's caring cake makers also participate in community events supporting local cancer-support groups and cancer-research organizations.
Lisa Brighton baked her first treat—a peach cobbler—when she was just 4 years old. She had some help, of course, from her great-grandmother, Hazel, who taught her which spices to use and which spices to throw over her shoulder. Hazel also handed down several generations of family recipes and a passion for baking that’s been in the family genes for more than 100 years. Lisa puts it to good use at Starz Cupcakes, which she co-owns with her daughter Connie.
Lisa and Connie estimate that they make 220 different kinds of cupcakes, including 17 velvets—a new take on the classic red velvet—in ultra-bright colors such as coral, teal, and purple. They also bake gluten-free cupcakes for customers with gluten allergies, and sugar-free versions for sweets lovers on low-sugar diets. And the tiny cakes are as beautiful as they are delicious; each one is topped with a dollop of frosting and decorative trimmings such as sprinkles, chocolate chips, or coconut flakes.