Sarkara Sweets

Sarkara Sweets, 201 SE Second Ave., now offers wine choices on its menu including local fruit wines such as Blackberry Raspberry Royale and Peach Panache.

Here, have some wine with your cupcake.

Customers at Gainesville's Sarkara Sweets, 201 SE Second Ave., can now order wine to accompany their personalized cupcakes.

Customers can pick their cake, filling, frosting and topping, and the cupcake is made in front of them for $3.50. Owned and operated by UF alumnae Stephanie and Susan Browning, both 24, the bakery offers custom-made cupcakes, as well as vegan and gluten-free options.

"It's a popular business to have," Stephanie said. "From a personal perspective, we enjoy doing it; from a business perspective, it was a smart decision. There's not much competition."

The owners, who said they sell more than 200 cupcakes in a slow week, said they felt the need to add a touch of class to the menu.

"Most restaurants, even the ones who don't focus on alcohol as their main draw, make a decent living offering their customers drinks," Stephanie said. "Younger women are interested in having a nice drink downtown, but they don't want to deal with the bars and the lines."

The bakery offers wine choices including local fruit wines such as Blackberry Raspberry Royale and Peach Panache. A small glass of red wine begins at $9. On the menu, suggestions are made for mixing wine and cupcakes.

"We figure it will take some time for customers to become aware that you can come downtown for cupcakes and alcohol as a dessert date in the evenings," Stephanie said.

The cupcake trend has traveled nationally, culminating in the reality TV show "Cupcake Wars" on the Food Network. But locally, Gainesville brides are catching on.

"I'd love to see more cupcakes," said Meredith Stanley, photographer and co-owner at Chic Shot Studio, a wedding photography studio in Gainesville. "I've seen a lot of couples that have gotten engaged in the last year and many are planning on using cupcakes in their weddings."

As for the appeal of the cupcakes, Stephanie said there's a simple enough explanation: They're cute.

Cupcakes, she said, are bite-sized, dainty, easily decorated and color-coordinated.

"There's a lot of visual aesthetics to cupcakes," she said, "and young ladies are interested in small anything."

UF resident assistant Melinda Vinson, a food science and nutrition senior, used cupcake images as decorations for the second floor in Fletcher Hall, including name tags on her residents' doors.

And, there's more to the appeal of cupcakes. To many, there's a sense of nostalgia attached to the bite-sized pastries.

"It's about the childhood memories," Stephanie said, "of when Mom used to send you to school with a box of cupcakes for your birthday."

Sarkara Sweets is open Wednesday through Saturday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.