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New business is icing on the cupcake for Daineh

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Neveen Daineh never imagined she’d be in business selling cupcakes.

She had taught for eight years at the Aqsa School in Bridgeview. But, after the birth of her fourth child four years ago, she decided to be a stay-at-home mom.

About a year later, Daineh was getting the itch to try her hand at something new.

“I got bored. I started watching The Food Network and ‘Cupcake Wars,’ ” she said.

“One day, it was Christmas break, my husband (Thayer) and I were at Navy Pier with the kids. We stopped at a cupcake shop and I said, ‘I can totally do this.’ He said, ‘Yeah, show me,’ ” she said.

She started finding recipes and learning how to make frosting. And she started baking.

“I was never a baker. I’ve always been a good cook. The first cupcakes I made went to his friends in his fantasy football league. They were my biggest fans and said, ‘She’s got something here’,” Daineh, 36, said.

Laughing, she said she “learned how to cook because I have a husband who likes to eat.”

She started baked cupcakes for friends and family. She started a Facebook page to see what the interest may be. Interest was good. Very good.

“People started to catch on. One day, I sold 600 cupcakes at a Sandburg High School craft show. The day before, my husband and kids helped me. I made the cupcakes in the one oven in my kitchen. It was insane. I was baking at two in the morning,” she said.

That big day at the high school convinced her to take the plunge.

On Nov. 4, she opened her store, Buttercup Cupcakes, in Chicago Ridge Mall. It is near Kohl’s. Look for the eye-catching pink walls and signage.

Daineh said she couldn’t have succeeded without help from her husband, who owns two clothing stores, and her family.

“We’re doing well. I love this. The first three months, I worked probably 80 hours a week,” she said.

Her biggest claim to fame so far was providing hundreds of cupcakes for the birthday party of former Bulls guard Nate Robinson.

There are 24 varieties of cupcakes to choose from. They range from the traditional favorite red velvet to creative flavors such as tiramisu, green tea and coconut dream. In addition, there are seasonal cupcakes including caramel apple, chocolate peppermint and banana split.

“I like to put a fun twist on cupcakes. Our ‘Dr. Graham’ is a s’mores cucpake,” she said.

Asked why she thinks cupcakes are so popular these days, Daineh said people “don’t want to buy a whole cake. This way, you get the same gourmet flavors, just miniaturized.”

She has four employees, two of whom are bakers who have been taught all the recipes.

Most of her business comes from orders that are placed for big groups and parties, but she does have plenty of walk-up sales in the mall, she said.

“You’ve gotta pay your bills, so we make cakes now, too,” she said, adding that she hopes to open a second store.

Buttercup Cupcakes is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Information is at (708) 425-2110 or www.buttercuponline.com.



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