Highland Park residents can enjoy the sweet taste of competition, with two new cupcake stores setting up shop on Central Avenue.
Turtle’s Cupcakes opened April 30 at 469 Central Ave. and Sweet Bites is expected to open May 25, just across the street at 478 Central Ave.
Turtle’s co-owners Max Tempelmann and Stacie Foster have always loved baking, but this is their first time doing it professionally.
“We decided to quit our office jobs for something sweeter,” Foster said.
Before opening the store, they worked baking for parties, starting with their friends but building a client list by word of mouth.
“For the past year we’ve been trying recipes, experimenting with ingredients until we got it right,” Tempelmann said.
While Turtle’s is just a two-man operation, the duo can bake 1,000 fresh cupcakes in a day. Daily offerings include red velvet with vanilla-cream cheese frosting and Madagascar bourbon vanilla cupcakes topped with vanilla butter cream frosting. Other choices from their menu of 30 cupcakes are available seasonally or by special order, such as the pumpkin spice for fall and winter.
“We wanted to have tart, fruity, sweet, salty and savory,” Foster said. “We wanted to have all the flavors of an ice cream place.”
Sweet Bites, which is expected to have its grand opening June 9, specializes in extra-large cupcakes with multiple fillings such as the strawberry lemonade that features lemon cake with strawberry butter cream. The shop will also stock standard-sized cupcakes, tiny “wee cakes,” whoopee pies and cake pops.
Owner Marla Levitt previously owned a candy manufacturing business, whose products were distributed in 26 states and Puerto Rico. She’ll be selling some of her candy at Sweet Bites including English toffee, white chocolate-glazed caramel corn and candy apples. She visited more than 25 cupcake shops nationwide to get ideas for Sweet Bites.
“I did my research,” Levitt said. “I went to every cupcake place I could find. Everybody who knows me, I make them cupcakes and I make them taste it.”
Both pastry shops will serve coffee and milk and will feature outdoor seating. Both plan to offer cupcake frosting parties for children and adults.
The demand for sweet treats downtown seems to be high. Turtle’s co-owner Foster said that she sold about 800 cupcakes on her opening day and has been doing a brisk business on the weekends.
Foster said she is not worried about the competition. “It means more sweets for everybody,” she said.
Levitt also wasn’t concerned about having another cupcake shop across the street.
“My feeling is that across from every McDonald’s you’ll find a Burger King or a Wendy’s,” she said. “I think there’s a niche for everybody.”