The Star-News

Cupcake love

Sat, Jul 06 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Robert Moreno

A new cupcake shop in Otay Ranch is spreading its love to the community.

First-time business owners Hortenssia and her husband Juan Zatarain opened Love Cupcake Café in May.

When the cupcake shop opened, the novice business owners didn’t know how to operate a business, how to prepare for its opening or how to react when the shop sold out of cupcakes in 70 minutes during its grand opening.

Since then, the cupcake shop continues to sell out of its treats, as it has become a success for the owners.

“I figured we would struggle in our first year,” Hortenssia said. “I never thought we’d ever run out of cupcakes every single day we’ve been open.”

The road to opening Love Cupcake Café wasn’t easy.

Two years ago Hortenssia, 35, became a victim of the struggling economy and, like many Americans, she was laid off from her human resources job.

With no job in sight, Hortenssia spent her days baking for her husband so he could take the baked goods to work.

When Zatarain brought the cupcakes to work, his co-workers would give them rave reviews.
Hortenssia said she didn’t know her cupcakes were that good, which prompted her and Zatarain to start a cupcake business.

“I had figured out I made something good,” she said.

Hortenssia soon after enrolled in a pastry chef school to hone her design making skills.

Banks weren’t giving the start-up business any love.

The Chula Vista residents applied for business loans but kept being denied because, despite their good credit, they had no capital and the banks didn’t want to take a risk on first-time business owners.

They caught a break when a bank finally approved them.

Then the struggle of finding a building began to take its toll.

“We put in several bids on places but no one wanted to give us an opportunity,” Hortenssia said. “No one thought a cupcake shop would succeed.”

Love Cupcake Café now runs its business at 2110 Birch Road, a building owned by Shea Homes.

Today, Hortenssia said her shop sells about 500 to 600 cupcakes a day.

Hortenssia said the shop’s best selling cupcake is the carrot cupcake, in which she said she uses real European butter and other fine ingredients.

Hortenssia’s favorite cupcake to make is the Lemon Chino cake, a cake named after her grandfather.

Despite the bakery’s success, Hortenssia is still trying to get the hang of running a business.

“I get three to four hours of sleep a day,” she said. “Running a business is really hard. I don’t know everything yet.”

When Hortenssia opened the shop, she had no employees. She had several friends help her out at the shop. She also started out with interns who are now employees.

“I announced to students in my baking class that I would like them to intern for my business. I told them I didn’t know how the business was going to turn out, but once we start making money I’d add them to payroll,” Hortenssia said.

The cupcake shop offers up 31 different flavors, with plans to expand the menu.

Love Cupcake Café gets its name from all the obstacles the shop had to endure.

 “The name comes from all the love and sweat we put into our shop,” Hortenssia said.

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