Likening Gigi’s to Baskin-Robbins. Is that a bad thing? Ummmm….I’m not sure, but here’s my reasoning …
1) Gigi’s Cupcakes is a franchise. With 38 locations across 15 states. (Baskin-Robbins has too many for me to count, but they’ve been around since the 1950′s. Gigi’s opened their first location in 2008.)
2) They have a lot of flavors to choose from. I counted 32 total on their menu. (Baskin-Robbins started out with 31, right?)
3) It’s busy. Lots of foot traffic with youngins coming in and out – like just after soccer practice or celebrating a birthday.
4) It smells really good. Every time I walk into Baskin-Robbins, I take a deep breath and inhale the heavenly scent of waffle cone. Well, the second you walk into Gigi’s, you’re greeted with the blissful aroma of vanilla frosting. I wanted to go back to Gigi’s just so I could smell it.
5) There are the glass cases containing the goods that most of the kids run up to, put their hands on, and stare through with excitement & anticipation. Hemming and hawing over all those flavors to choose from!
6) The goods are good, don’t get me wrong. But, it’s not necessarily the best you’ve ever had. It’s more of a fun and pleasant experience. It’s easy to get to, maybe in your neighborhood. It’s dependable. Just like Baskin-Robbins.
7) They both have hot pink in their color scheme. I know, I’m reaching now. Sorry.
I do want to stress that Gigi’s cupcakes are really beautiful! They’re creatively decorated and the icing is piled high, looking very cloud-like. They’re pretty, without looking pretentious. That visual appeal almost suckered me in to ordering one of each! Thankfully, my trusty companion provided the voice of reason. (Thank you Linds! And for treating me, too!)
However, the taste of the cupcakes didn’t quite match up to their alluring appearance. Bummer. We had the German Sweet Chocolate and the Strawberry Shortcake, and here’s my 2 cents:
-The German Sweet Chocolate wasn’t too chocolatey or coconutty…or sweet, come to think of it. I was expecting at least one of those qualities. Decent frosting to cake ratio, though. And the “chocolate filigree” garnish lent a gourmet feel. Just not so much of an all-around gourmet taste.
-The Strawberry Shortcake was not lacking in frosting, I can tell you that. It was on the thicker side, so I left some on my plate. We liked the fact that both the white cake and frosting contained bits of strawberry, lending a pleasant flavor. I do love strawberry cupcakes, but this one just didn’t wow me.
On a little side note: I really like the story behind Gigi’s (which you can read about on their website), I felt like I could sort of relate and often dream about starting up my own cupcakery (darn my baking skill shortcomings!).
And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for (I’m just assuming here, sorry) – the break down!
Gigi’s Cupcakes (Marietta location) / 1281 Johnson Ferry Road Suite 116 Marietta, GA / www.gigiscupcakesusa.com
1. Price: $3 each
2. Room temperature: Why, yes!
3. Size: I’d say the cake part is standard size, while the frosting portion is jumbo!
4. Vegan or gluten-free options: On their website, they mention that Gigi’s does offer a gluten-free cupcake. I just don’t see it on the menu, and I don’t remember seeing it during my visit. If you’re looking for that, I’d recommend an inquiring phone call before setting out.
5. To-go packaging: We went for their February “Love Box” special – 4 cupcakes for $9.99, all packaged in a pretty, cardboard box with the cupcake dividers inside. We couldn’t wait to eat them (well, I couldn’t. Patience isn’t one of my virtues) so we requested a plate to dine-in. Instead we were given a small paper bowl, which the cupcake fit into perfectly but made the whole splitting-in-half process challenging. Plenty of napkins on hand, though!
6. Milk for sale?: Yes, as well as coffee (Batdorf & Bronson), Smart Water, Vitamin Water, and soft drinks (Coke products).
7. Other treats for non-cupcake enthusiasts you may have in tow: Non-cupcake enthusiast would be out of luck here. You either get cupcakes, a beverage (as listed above), or Gigi’s-themed merchandise like hats, shirts, bags, mugs, travel cups, etc. There is a Pinkberry two doors down and outdoor seating, so you might be able to make something work.
8. Ambiance: Gigi’s is cute -chocolate brown walls with hot pink accents, and 2 lovely glass cases stocked full of cupcakes. And don’t forget, it smells freakin’ amazing! Inside, you’ve got two tables+chairs, as well as two counter top-like tables with bar stools. Outside, there are a handful of patio tables w/umbrellas. From this arrangement, I got the feeling that Gigi’s encourages dining in.
9. Service: B+. The folks helping us were quick and kind. The place was clean and well stocked. Two things though – because there were so many people coming in to order, the whole flow around the counters and the cash register was compromised. It was too congested. Plus, there were like 4 or 5 employee working behind the counter (which seems like it should be a good thing!) that kind of added to the commotion.
Overall, the experience at Gigi’s was enjoyable. I think this is another place to pick up a dozen of cupcakes to take to a party (just the sight of them alone will thrill the guests), or take your kids too for a treat. However, I did not find a new member for my Top 10 list. Cupcake Crusade moves on…