In a world where it feels like quick and healthy food is hard to come by, Cupcake Time Café in downtown, historic Leesburg breaks the mold by selling delicious and nutritious lunch options guaranteed to satisfy.
Don Folker and his wife, Terri, originally opened the business two years ago. The decision to open a restaurant came after the downturned economy took a toll on the construction industry, which dealt a heavy blow to Don who worked as an electrician for several years.
“I wanted to do something else, so my wife said, ‘why don’t you make cupcakes?’” he says. “I was able to get into this space relatively cheap, and since most of the equipment I needed was here already, I was able to get started fairly quickly.”
After a couple of years of just selling gourmet-style cupcakes, Don decided two months ago to expand the business to include a lunch menu that features signature salads and wraps, sandwiches (an authentic Cuban and a quarter-pound, all-beef Nathan hot dog), and a soup of the day.
Don and his son, Matt, run the day-to-day operations of Cupcake Time Café. They strive every day to provide food that it fast, fresh, and flavorful.
“Everything is fresh, and we cut it up ourselves,” Don says. “We make salads to order so when you come to pick it up, it’s still crisp.”
After looking over the menu a bit, I decided to try the Cuban and the fresh-made Cobb salad with roasted turkey. Matt explained to me the bread for the Cubans come from a well-established Ybor City bakery in Tampa. And you know it’s authentic because only true Cuban bread comes with a palm frond baked on the top, which holds in moisture and creates the signature crease down the middle of the loaf. “A lot of people don’t know that,” Don says. They also season and roast their own pork loin for the sandwich.
While Don pressed my sandwich, I watched Matt put together my salad, which he also tossed for me before putting it on a plate. Matt says he does it for all the salads (unless someone requests not to have it tossed or it’s to-go) so all the veggies, toppings, meat, and salad dressing will be mixed perfectly.
The hearty-sized salad was crisp, green, and scrumptious. While most Cobb salads I have tried come bogged down with fatty, creamy dressings, Cupcake Time’s Cobb is light and refreshing because it’s dressed with tangy balsamic vinaigrette.
While enjoying my salad, Don brought out my Cuban sandwich. Not wanting it to grow cold, I switched gears and took a bite of the Cuban. The bread was phenomenal. It had the right amount of crunch expected from a pressed sandwich, but the bread wasn’t hard and stiff. It was still soft enough to eat with no worries about cutting the roof of my mouth. Both the pork and ham were delectable, and of course, a Cuban wouldn’t be a Cuban without the Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, which all married well for an impressive array of yummy flavors. Overall, it was a savory and truly genuine Cuban experience that will most certainly have me returning for more in the future.
Though I was pretty full, I couldn’t leave without having a cupcake from Cupcake Time. It was hard to choose a flavor, but after much debate, I settled on a Toll House cupcake, which was chock full of chocolate chips and pecans. The cupcake was completely tasty and moist. It certainly satisfied my sweet tooth without it being too sweet.
Don has plans to add more sandwiches in the future and to promote the café’s best-kept secret — their yogurt-based smoothies. His hope is to see a steadier stream of customers as word travels about Cupcake Time.
“The local downtown business people have really been our staple, and we thank them for being such steady and loyal customers,” he says. “However, we do want to see new faces and start promoting our lunch menu more. And as we grow, we can start adding more food items because we are always looking to please our customers and give them as much variety as possible.”
703 W. Main St., Leesburg, FL 34748 • 352.728.2253
Hours of operation: Tuesday–Friday, 11a.m.–5p.m.; Saturday, 11a.m.–3p.m.
Popular Salads and Wraps: (each $4.75; add $1.25 for chicken, turkey, or ham)
Spring Time: Includes a spring mix of greens, mandarin oranges, strawberries, almonds, sunflower seeds, and light raspberry vinaigrette.
Italian: Includes classic romaine lettuce, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, pepperoncini, mozzarella, and Italian dressing.
Cobb: Includes fresh romaine lettuce, bacon, diced eggs, crumble blue cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette.
A classic cupcake: $2.50 each for one to five cupcakes; $2.25 each for six to 11 cupcakes; and $2 each for 12 or more cupcakes.
Mini cupcakes (special order): $8 per dozen (must order a minimum of two dozen).
Jumbo cupcakes (special order): $3.75 each (must order a minimum of four).
Written by Shemir Wiles | Photo by Fred Lopez