Cuppies & Joe
When I found out that this issue of Edible would be focusing on women in the restaurant industry, I could not think of a business more appropriate to highlight than the sweet little sweets shop on 23rd street, Cuppies & Joe. Tuesday through Saturday, you can find the Deifenderfer family popping in and out of the kitchen, sharing smiles with their patrons or taking a break to snuggle with their kiddos in the living room area by the front door. By sharing their lives together at the shop, they have created a welcoming and cozy atmosphere that invites you to live life alongside the Cuppies & Joe family.
Business Name: Cuppies & Joe
People Names: Peggy Diefenderfer, Megan Mathews, Elizabeth Fleming, Katie Floyd (all formerly Diefenderfer)
Website: www.cuppiesandjoe.com; Instagram & Twitter: @cuppiesandjoe
Where can we find you? 727 NW 23rd Street in a cute little bungalow house just east of Shartel
What made you decide you wanted to open Cuppies & Joe? Our mom (Peggy) wanted to open a dessert cafe for years and the rest of the family caught the vision years later. We have always loved the community that happens around the table. We had recently gone to a couple of cities/ countries where we felt inspired by how people slowed down their lives and hoped to bring that back to OKC. We wanted to provide a quality product and an equally inviting, safe atmosphere.
Was it always the plan to be a family business? Well, even though my mom dreamed of it, actually opening a business was way out of our comfort zone and unlike anything we had ever done before. Our family is extremely close though, so the family part was a no brainer. We always said if the business ever got in the way of our family that it wasn’t worth it.
How did you choose the name Cuppies & Joe? Our mom actually came up with it. We would email from our other respective jobs at the time, dreaming up the business, and had thrown a few names back and forth. We tend to abbreviate words or cute them up and my mom sent “Cuppies & Joe” kind of as a joke, but we all loved it! Cupcakes, of course, being the “Cuppies” part and coffee being the “Joe.” It also has the word “pies” in it, which is another favorite dessert we love to make and something our mom was known for long before the business. We had hoped it would sound inviting for men and women, boys and girls, old and young, all walks of life.
Where do you draw inspiration for your menu? Many of the recipes were things we made growing up or recipes we found and tweaked to make our own. When we opened, we wanted to make what we were inspired to make day to day. Things took off so quickly that we had to create somewhat of a schedule so that we weren’t baking every single menu item every day, but now, several years in, we are able to make what is on the menu and then make specialty items depending on the season and what we are in the mood for that day!
What things do you offer other than cupcakes? As far as desserts, some of our regular offerings on various days include assorted cookies, brownies, pies (by the slice or whole when special ordered), pop tarts, toast on homemade bread with assorted flavored butters, macaroons occasionally, biscuits and sausage gravy on Tuesday mornings, granola and yogurt, and probably other items I’m forgetting. On the “joe” side, we have a full espresso bar and we serve drinks for the coffee purist as well as the person who likes a drink a little sweeter. We primarily use Topeca Roastery out of Tulsa, OK, but also occasionally rotate in other roasters. When we opened, we didn’t know the coffee side would be just as big a part of the business as the dessert side, so that has been fun to learn and grow more in that area.
How do you think that being family affects the way you run your business? We definitely trust each other and also love and respect each other. Our heart behind the business is so much more than desserts and coffee. Like I mentioned, we love the community that happens around the table and want to foster that environment as best we can. Our hope was to be relational with our customers and become a part of their daily lives and their big life events, whether celebratory or difficult. We’ve gotten to be a part of proposals, weddings, baby announcements, loss, birthdays, and we don’t take our customers letting us into their lives for granted.
Do you think that being women affects your experience of owning/running a business, positively or negatively? We didn’t necessarily approach the business from a standpoint of being female owners, partly because our dad is an owner as well. We think being multi-generational women in our family, owning and working at the shop, is something that we may not see the fruits of until later, especially through the eyes of our children/grandchildren respectively. In their eyes, it’s all they have ever known, which is kind of cool. They may not understand the hard work behind it until they are much older, but they will never know any different than seeing the women in their lives work and create and serve. We think that people respond positively to seeing a family owned business and more importantly, a family that values one another over the business, which is something we’ve always placed as the utmost importance. Our mom has become a sort of second mom to so many of our staff and that has been a unique thing to offer.
We have tried our best to model hard work ethic to all of our employees and have been hands-on with every aspect of the business, including the not-so-glamorous parts. A good majority of our staff are female, although we also have fellas, including one male baker. Regardless of gender, we hope that what has come through is that we are willing to work hard alongside them.
I know you started this business before there were kiddos/grandkids. How do you feel this changed the way you have run/viewed your business? Yes, when we opened, none of us were married except, of course, my parents who are going on thirty-eight years! Since opening, all three of us have gotten married and there are now six kids/grandkids! We have been so blessed. The kids definitely have a unique experience getting to grow up in a bakery/coffee shop. We love that they get to grow up in the shop and will perhaps run it someday if it is still around and going strong. We have always been very protective of our family and the time we get together. For years, we would close the shop to go on family vacation. Our customers were so great and said they missed us being open, but were glad we got away for a bit. We think modeling that for our customers, employees, and community is important, and we want it to be a reflection of what our priorities are. Thankfully, now we are able to leave it open when we go away and part of that is because of our fabulous staff who have become an extension of our family over the years.
Cuppies has been in business for over nine years now. How do you keep things fun and new? So this December 2018 will be ten years of business for us, which is crazy, and we are so grateful! When we first opened, our family members were the only ones doing the baking. Now, we are so grateful to have several fabulous bakers alongside us, each bringing something different to the table. We love our staff so much and could not do this without them. We try to encourage our other bakers to create things that they are excited or passionate about because we feel like that is when people do their best work. We try not to put restrictions on any of them and love to see what they each come up with. I feel like each of us challenges and inspires each other to keep creating something new. We try to create things seasonally and using the best possible ingredients.
What is your favorite part of being on the Oklahoma restaurant scene? One of our favorite parts is that it really does feel like a community. Everyone seems to be rooting for each other; even if you might be in direct “competition” with each other, we want each other to do well. We have a really good rapport with the other coffee shops especially; if one of us hasn’t gotten our cups in or our beans are en route and we are going to run out, we can call on each other. I don’t know if that is normal in other cities, but we are so grateful that that is the culture here. There are so many new spots constantly popping up that it is hard to keep up with but definitely exciting to be a part of.
Also, can you adopt me into the family? I want to be a Diefenderfer girl. Haha, consider yourself adopted! We love our Ely Fair. There’s always room for more—criteria are hugs and a good appetite. Thank you, ladies, for sharing your delicious goodies and generous spirits with our city!