They are delightful, delicious and whimsical. They’re cupcakes.
In an interesting career move, Lela Pate, formerly a paralegal from Central Florida, fell into Luli’s Cupcakes after she moved to St. Augustine in 2008. It is an ironic, tongue-twisting coincidence that Pate started off as a baker in Luli’s Cupcakes — she eventually became the owner.
Luli’s has been around for 11 years and is located in uptown St. Augustine on San Marco Avenue.
There is something Mary Poppinesque about the place. It’s light, happy, efficient and bouyant.
There are a total of 15 seats with tables on the front porch and a big comfy couch to sink into while you enjoy your cake.
Pate rents the space out for parties and frosting workshops.
Maybe baking for Pate is a family talent. She says her grandmother bakes cakes for the whole town of Roland, North Carolina.
Q&A WITH OWNER LELA PATE
How would you describe the restaurant’s atmosphere?
Fresh and happy: I like being here and it smells great. I repainted and updated the look with pastels and geared it toward kids while keeping it approachable for the adults. The space is uncrowded and there is room for small parties.
What is your food philosophy?
I have high standards. If I’m not happy with it, I don’t put it out. When I started this business, I jumped into the deep end and spent a lot of time experimenting and trying new techniques. With parties and weddings, people have specific requests and that challenges me in accommodation.
My desserts have less sugar than the traditional amount, and I offer gluten free and vegan options.
What types of cuisine do you specialize in?
Cupcakes and cakes with unusual flavor combinations, flair and imagination. Where else can you get a cupcake called The Godfather? It’s sponge cake soaked with Old City Brew coffee syrup topped with whipped mascarpone cheese frosting and a dash of cocoa powder. There is always going to be a cupcake, and there are so many possibilities.
What is your signature dish?
The Chocoholic is a rich chocolate cake with three different toppings. For the vanilla fan, I make a rich butter-cream frosting. My cupcakes are liberally frosted. I have a key-lime pie cupcake … with lime zest and graham cracker crumbs.
What would you recommend for a first timer?
Try the breakfast in bed — a sweet and savory combination. It’s a cinnamon roll cake with pecans, cream-cheese frosting and bacon with a drizzle of orange maple syrup. We have a solid local base and they love it.