By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
‘Hang out and have a cupcake’: Cake shop set to sweeten downtown Gainesville
07222022 ACUNAS 1.jpg
Joel and Diane Acuna are nearing the opening of Acuna's Cake Shoppe on Northside Drive in Gainesville Tuesday, July 19, 2022. The couple are planning for their grand opening on July 27. - photo by Scott Rogers

Downtown Gainesville’s burgeoning foodscape will soon have a sweeter side.

Husband and wife Joel and Diane Acuna are putting the finishing touches on their brick-and-mortar bakery, Acuna’s Cake Shoppe, adjacent to the Rock Creek Greenway at 343 Northside Drive.

Acuna’s Cake Shoppe

Grand opening: Slated for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 27

Where: 343 Northside Drive, Gainesville

More info: facebook.com/AcunasCustomCakes and instagram.com/acunascakeshoppe

Since 2016, the couple have designed custom wedding cakes for newlyweds across Northeast Georgia via a cottage food license. 

With the new space, which is slated to open for business Wednesday, July 27, they’ll be able to expand their offerings. Customers with a penchant for cupcakes, cake pops and other ready-made sweets can take their pick from the shop’s bakery case, which will be stocked daily with fresh treats, Diane said. 

According to Diane, Acuna’s has often fielded calls for last-minute orders, which they haven’t been able to fulfill due to an inability to keep pre-baked goods on hand in their home studio. But now, thanks to the 1,280-square-foot storefront, when a customer needs a birthday cake on short notice, one will be ready for them to grab and go.

In addition to basic bakery staples, Acuna’s Cake Shoppe will offer “gourmet” and seasonal flavors, as well as a loyalty program with deals and discounts for frequent visitors. Diane hopes to eventually add coffee to the menu as well.

Acuna’s boasts a diverse flavor portfolio, from classic white and buttery yellow to key lime and vanilla strawberry swirl.

According to Diane, a lot of Acuna’s customers gravitate toward “White Wedding” cake — a white cake with raspberry filling and almond buttercream — although her personal favorite is cookies and cream — a devil’s food cake with Oreo buttercream. 

A new flavor will be joining the bakery’s tried-and-true staples when the doors open: pineapple upside-down cake, which will be coined “Abuelita’s Favorite” in homage to Joel’s grandmother who died earlier this year. 

Those with an insatiable sweet tooth can get their fix through the bakery’s cupcake of the month club, which will secure them one specialty cupcake — or another flavor of their choosing — per month for a yearly cost of $35.

August’s specialty flavor is set to be peanut butter and jelly as a nod to the start of the school year.

Customers can take their treats to-go, or sit down and stay awhile to savor each bite there at the bakery.

“It just feels more intimate than walking into a supermarket bakery,” Diane said. “We wanted a space that’s very welcoming and inviting, that people feel comfortable to come in, hang out and have a cupcake. We’re excited to be able to do more with the community and offer more to people other than just brides and grooms — everyday people.”

07222022 ACUNAS 6.jpg
Previously Acuna's Custom Cakes, which primarily specialized in custom wedding cakes like the one pictured here, Joel and Diane Acuna are opening Acuna's Cake Shoppe on Northside Drive in Gainesville to expand their offerings. Photo courtesy Diane Acuna

Acuna’s will still be “very much focused on weddings” and custom orders, according to Diane. The shop houses a conference room for client consultations and tastings — an amenity Diane calls her personal pride and joy, as she previously wasn’t able to host these meetings on site.

According to Diane, Joel bakes the majority of Acuna’s cakes while she handles the decorating. She started out as a hobbyist, she said, after working as “the doughnut girl” in the Walmart bakery while going to school for a physical therapy degree.

“The cake ladies would say, ‘Once you’re done, come help us.’ That’s kind of where I got into (cake decorating),” she said. “It just sparked more of an interest. One day I told my husband, ‘I don’t know if I want to keep going to school for physical therapy; I think I want to be a cake lady.’ That was more than 10 years ago and I thought, ‘Can we really make a living doing that?’ And we have. It’s been fun, it’s been a roller coaster, but I enjoy it.”

Getting to work alongside her husband is another bonus.

“It sounds cliche, but we’ve always been best friends — we actually met in middle school,” Diane said. “I know some people say, ‘I would never be able to work with my husband,’ but I enjoy working with my husband. We get along great, we work together great. I don’t get sick of him.”

Joel and Diane are alumni of East Hall High School. While Joel was born in Mexico, the two grew up in Gainesville, and they have a soft spot for serving their community.

They often make cakes for their daughters’ cheerleading and lacrosse events, but their philanthropy stretches beyond their family tree. Acuna’s has donated treats to area nonprofits, the hospital and, in 2020, to a handful of graduates whose celebrations were called off by the pandemic.

“I love the sense of community and being more involved in the community — not just Gainesville City Schools, but all of Hall County,” Diane said. “With the limited space we had before, we weren’t able to do a ton, but now, to be able to do things like that when we’re led to do it, whether it’s for nonprofits or schools or other needs in the community. We want to help out where we can.”

Once up and running, Acuna’s Cake Shoppe is slated to operate Tuesday-Saturday. 

Customers can find parking next to the greenway and behind the bakery.

As for Joel and Diane, they’re eager to bring a bit of sweetness to Gainesville.

“We’re excited to be here and look forward to meeting people,” Diane said.

07222022 ACUNAS 5.jpg
Diane Acuna tours the location of her and husband Joel's new Acuna's Cake Shoppe on Northside Drive in Gainesville Tuesday, July 19, 2022. The couple are planning for their grand opening on July 27. - photo by Scott Rogers
07222022 ACUNAS 4.jpg
Diane Acuna tours the location of her and husband Joel's new Acuna's Cake Shoppe on Northside Drive in Gainesville Tuesday, July 19, 2022. The couple are planning for their grand opening on July 27. - photo by Scott Rogers