Q&A with Sara Coleman Fitzpatrick, owner of The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery

Sara Coleman Fitzpatrick
Sara Coleman Fitzpatrick

Today we chat with Sara Coleman Fitzpatrick, owner of The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery in downtown Raleigh.

This Q&A is a part of our series called interviews with locals where we interview local Raleigh business owners and entrepreneurs to share their story with our community.

Where did you grow up and go to school? How long have you lived in Raleigh?

I’m a NC native who grew up just down the road in Hillsborough and attended college here in Raleigh at NC State University.

Post graduation I took a corporate job and moved to GA and FL where I worked for 7 years but then made my way back to Raleigh in 2006 and have been here ever since.  I moved back to start the bakery and be closer to family and part of Raleigh’s growth in 2007 and can’t imagine living anywhere else! 

How did you get into the industry you are in now?

I always had a love of baking and pretty desserts and after spending several years in the corporate world wanted to take my business background and apply it in an area that I loved and could be more creative!

A year of baking and business planning later and I signed the lease on our current space. I hit the ground running, converting the old furniture refinishing space into our current kitchen and cafe and the bakery was born.

The windows of the front of the shop are what first caught my attention on a visit home for the holidays and the rest is history.

Give us your 30 second elevator pitch for your business?

We are Raleigh’s first and finest cake boutique and cupcake shop located in the Glenwood South district at 104 Glenwood Avenue. We are committed to using fresh, high end, local ingredients and proudly serve locally roasted Joe Van Gogh coffee and espresso.

The shop boasts a beautiful, light filled cafe where you can enjoy a croissant warm from the oven with your espresso, or you can take your treats to our patio and enjoy the outdoors with your dessert both day and night. 

Here at the shop we believe in small batch baking and providing top quality sweets and pastries with no shortcuts. 

Our open kitchen concept allows visitors to watch our staff at work. Whether piping away on a tray of freshly baked cupcakes, or mixing up a homemade batch of cookies, the shop is both a delight for the young and old. We also have vegan/gluten free options on our menu and a full coffee and espresso bar!

Most popular item you sell?

It’s a toss up between the Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls, the Homemade Ice Cream sandwiches and the “Pretty in Pink” Cupcakes!

Your favorite item you sell?

Oatmeal Cream Pies and our Honey Lavender Lattes!

Honey Lavender Lattes
Honey Lavender Lattes

If you had a friend visiting, where in Raleigh would you take them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Jolie in Oakwood for Sunday brunch on the rooftop, and Cortez Seafood & Cocltail for dinner (their ceviche is the stuff of dreams!)

Love Logan’s in Seaboard Station for lunch as well, such a unique spot with friendly faces and great sandwiches.

Best thing about living in Raleigh?

Quick two hour drive to the beach, and two hour drive to the gorgeous NC mountains!

Least favorite thing about living in Raleigh?

 Traffic!

Can’t miss experience in Raleigh for an out-of-town visitor?

We are foodies in my household so the list mostly contains so many of Raleigh’s wonderful locally owned and operated restaurants, but food aside I would say the vibrancy of just walking around Raleigh’s many beautiful districts like Boylan Heights, Oakwood, Five Points, and downtown. 

You can’t beat Raleigh’s many green spaces like Fred Fletcher Park, Dorothea Dix Park, and for families we love the old carousel and the paddle boats at Pullen Park which is always a hit.

Your favorite business in Raleigh that you like to frequent?

I love The Flourish Market downtown for great little artisan gifts that give back to the best causes and you can never go wrong with a trip to Two Roosters for a cone of amazing locally made ice cream! 

What excites you the most about doing business in Raleigh over the next 5-10 years?

The growth and innovative projects happening downtown! Raleigh’s commitment to green spaces and responsible growth to maintain our small town charm but with big city amenities.

What concerns you the most about doing business in Raleigh over the next 5-10  years?

Rapidly increasing costs for space (rent, leases, property, mortgages, etc.)

Which local Raleigh entrepreneur inspires you to do better?

I love the concept behind A Place At The Table where patrons pay what they can for a warm meal and those who can afford to pay it forward can purchase meals for those who are less fortunate. 

Food is love in my book and everyone deserves that in my humble opinion so I can really get behind this mission!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a business in Raleigh?

I think location should be carefully considered depending on your demographic and what type of business you are starting, but overall if you are looking to start your own business anywhere I think you just have to be “all in”.

The process will test you to your limits and this last year especially has shown us just how crazy things can get so you have to be committed to doing whatever it takes to make it a success. 

I also think it’s super important to know your own strengths and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. If you build the team, together you build the business!

What is your favorite thing about running your business?

That we get to celebrate with our clients all their fun milestones each and every day! We get to see engagements, weddings, baby showers, first birthdays, and 50th anniversaries so it’s been a true privilege to be part of all our customer’s stories and milestones.

In a crazy fast world we provide a little bit of sweetness for people in the simplest way each day! 

Drink of choice? Which bar, brewery, or coffee shop in Raleigh do you get it at?

My husband and I often walk for coffee on Sunday mornings to our neighborhood coffee shop The Third Place.  It’s a quirky, tiny little shop with fun baristas and lots of character and I love their Springtime Smoothie. It’s a great way to start the day.

Favorite getaway spot in North Carolina?

Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach area with my boys.

Wrightsville Beach
Wrightsville Beach

When you hear the words “THIS IS RALEIGH” what comes to mind?

I think it’s the vibrancy of the people who live, work and play here. It’s the spirit of our neighbors, our community and the uniqueness of a city full of unique individuals and places to visit.  

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