Indie Toledo: Cake in a Cup

Second in a series about independent shops and restaurants in the Northwest Ohio area.

Something about Midwestern cities like Toledo just screams ‘practicality.’  In economic times like these, cities like ours sometimes struggle – and while we struggle, sometimes we start losing hope.

Cake in a Cup Toledo is an independently-owned and operated cupcake bakery that can make any Toledoan forget those struggles.  While the shop itself is small, the atmosphere and the food can give customers a sense of delight.

Food & Beverages

The primary food product at this shop, as I’m sure you can imagine, is its specialty cupcakes.  Three flavors are always available: vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet.  There are many flavors of cupcake offered by Cake in a Cup, but these rotate daily – and every month, there is a different selection of flavors rotated each day.

I’ve visited Cake in a Cup twice, but I’ve only tried one cupcake: the Black Bottom.  This type seems to be dark chocolate with a lighter flavor in the middle, topped with dark chocolate frosting and a raspberry.  It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted: a little bit rich, but fresh and sweet, and the cupcake part was moist and perfect.

There is also a small coffee/cafe bar in the shop with a few different offerings.  Mainly, it’s an espresso bar, but there are other things you can also order including hot tea.  When we visited, I tried to order a hot tea, but they didn’t have any.  I was a little disappointed, because I thought it would go well with my cupcake and I absolutely love hot tea.

One can purchase cupcakes as singles, groups of four, or by dozens.  A single cupcake is usually $2.50, but just $2 if you want a vanilla or chocolate cupcake.  You can even walk in and buy up to 2 dozen cupcakes without pre-ordering, according to the girl who was working at the counter when I was there.

Products

As one might expect from a boutique bakery, there are also a few additional products available both at the counter and on a shelf inside the shop.

On the shelves, there are a few different artist pieces.  I’m not sure if any are available for purchase, but the artist’s card is there, so she may be contacted if you’re interested in anything you see.

At the counter, there are a variety of greeting cards available.  They are all specialty cards and very pretty.  Most were birthday cards and Father’s Day cards, since we went about a week and a half before the holiday.

Critic’s Conclusion

If you don’t have a lot of spare money to go around, visiting Cake in a Cup for a once-in-a-while treat is your best bet.  While it’s not too expensive if you’re just getting one for yourself or a couple for a date, more than four cupcakes start to get very pricey very quickly.

However, getting that once-in-a-while treat is definitely worthwhile.  The cupcakes are moist and very tasty, and it’s easy to tell just by the taste how fresh they are.  If you DO have the spare cash, buying a dozen or two for a special occasion would be worth your while as well.  Your guests will be thrilled with the delicious cupcakes – and they’re also very pretty to look at, as well.

I would also recommend sitting in the shop to eat your cupcake.  There are a few tables inside the shop, and it was a lot of fun to sit and watch the customers come in and out.  Cake in a Cup seems so busy for such a small shop; it’s enjoyable to just watch everything happen.

Indie Toledo: Seann’s Anime & Comics

The first in a series about independent shops and restaurants in the Northwest Ohio (specifically Toledo) area.

The first time I enter a comic book or anime store, I’m usually not expecting much.  I have been in my fair share of both, and they tend to be a bit crowded and claustrophobic, the counter workers more interested in reading or watching their own thing to make conversation, or – in the case of many anime stores – carry more merchandise than comics, manga, or anime DVDs.

That’s why walking into Seann’s was a pleasant surprise for me.  The store wasn’t nearly as overcrowded as I’d come to expect from a store of that type.  In fact, it was very open and cool (it was a very hot day outside). That was definitely an inviting sign for me to check everything out.

Products

Seann’s carries primarily anime titles on DVD and Blu-ray, though the store also carries a decent stock of new and gently used manga as well as merchandise and snacks.  When first walking into the store, the rows of DVDs are all you see until your eye is drawn to the back wall, which had a rack of cute anime and cartoon plushies.

After browsing the titles – they had quite a few titles that were not as well-known alongside the hot sellers – I headed for the print section of the store.  The print section is for both manga and American comics: the manga titles sit on a bookshelf while the newest comics sit on regular racks.  There is also a table with boxes containing other titles, as well as titles that are a little bit older.

Near the check-out counter, there is a glass case containing sake bottles from local dealer Ohio Kimono as well as other items that are a bit more fragile.  On top of the counter, there are different types of jewelry and other fun stuff, like string dolls and keychains.  (The dolls are made from a single piece of string!)  By the door, there is a rack of Japanese-style candy and snacks, including fruit gummies and ramune.

Services

Seann’s buys back used anime DVDs as well as used manga.  I ended up buying two used DVDs, which are both in really good condition for being used – and they were about half the price of a new DVD, so I got both for $10.

The store also offers comic subscription services for monthly pickup, and they even offer a discount!  If you subscribe to at least 5 different comics, Seann’s offers a small percentage discount on the subscription.  There’s a catch, though: you have to pick them up at least once a month.

One service I found pretty unique, at least for an anime store in the Toledo area, is the rental service.  Patrons can rent DVD titles for up to one week.  The rates vary – you can rent a single title for one night or a boxed set for up to a week, all for different (yet affordable) rates.  This is great for those who never watch anything more than once, or those who love $1 one-night rentals to try out something they’ve never seen before.

Critic’s Conclusion

There is no reason for an anime/manga fan to NOT visit Seann’s.  With a wide variety of items and services, they have something for everyone: my best friend and I can go together, and while he browses the DVD rentals, I can pick up a manga or comic that looks interesting.  They also carry enough merchandise to be interesting for anyone who enjoys Japanese culture or media, from wall scrolls and dolls to stickers and notebooks to sake sets.

Comic fans may not be as inclined to visit.  As far as I can tell, the selection is somewhat small, as it occupies only a very small section of the shop.  However, a sign indicates that store employees can pull comics, and their subscription service is pretty nice.  There are also some beautiful art pieces on the wall behind the counter from a comic artist.  I don’t know too much about comics, but I can appreciate beautiful things when I see them.

Also, though I didn’t mention this in the body of the review, the young lady who was working when I was there was very nice.  She wasn’t pushy or trying too hard to sell anything, and when I asked questions she gave me knowledgeable answers.

I’d recommend this store for any anime/manga fan and anyone interested in comics or Japanese culture.

– Find Seann’s online at their website or simply type “Seann’s Anime and Comics” in the searchbar on Facebook.