Two sisters that wanted more for themselves, ample community support that has been poured into their business since day one, obstacles and challenges in a list a mile long that have been overcome time and time again, and a dynamic sister duo that has a massive heart for connecting with their community and bringing them unique and delicious experiences, are all just a few descriptors that come to mind when thinking about Delicioso Cupcakery & Coffee Shop.
If you live in Johnson County or have traveled through, you may have heard of the joint bakery and coffee shop that has freshly made baked goods, fantastic custom coffees, birthday cakes, custom wedding cakes, and an environment that is quirky and inviting. I was able to sit down with the owners of Delicioso–Lupe Torres and Otilia Espinoza–and quickly learned that the wonderful shop of theirs that everyone knows and loves has taken years of hard work and dedication to create. Their journey goes all the way back to around 2012 when Torres was asked to make her first-ever birthday cake.
It was her nephew’s birthday and her brother and sister-in-law requested that Torres made the cake for the occasion. They did not care what it looked like, what colors she used, or anything of the like, as long as she was the one to make it. At this point in her life, Torres had piqued an interest in baking later than most, but she was up for the challenge. She explained that this birthday cake was the first time she ever used piping bags, airbrush spray, and colors of any kind on a cake. All it took was that first birthday cake to have Torres hooked. From there, she started taking cake orders for close friends and family–as she could manage it–while she worked in a manufacturing plant.
Torres’ baking career started out as a solo act out of her home as she watched Youtube videos and mastered particular recipes that she thought would allow her to call herself a baker. She just had fun with it and went from cakes to macaroons, to everything in between, until she landed on cinnamon rolls. On most holidays Torres got the chance to experiment with desserts, while Espinoza did all of the cooking for their family. One Christmas Torres decided to try and make cinnamon rolls–and if you know anything about Delicioso, you know the cinnamon rolls were a hit.
After experimenting with her family, Torres started selling her cinnamon rolls out of her house. She would take orders on Facebook–up to 27 pans–and once a month would be labeled as “Cinnamon Roll Day.” That week she wouldn’t take any cake orders and she would get up at 1 AM on “Cinnamon Roll Day” to make each order of cinnamon rolls. To give everyone an idea of the level of customer service that is still present in the shop today, Torres would text each customer to get their time preference for picking up their cinnamon rolls and she would text them to come and get them once they were in the oven. This allowed each customer to take home a hot, fresh pan of cinnamon rolls.
As if “Cinnamon Roll Day,” was not enough, Torres also tried her hand at wedding cakes while still working out of her home. Anyone who knows Delicioso knows that they are now known for their delicious cakes for any occasion and their stunning wedding cakes. Torres shared her first wedding cake experience with ease, breezing right over a couple of significant details–it was a 5-tier tres leche cake with a layer of flan and a chandelier element positioned in between the top tiers. She spent an entire week focusing all of her energy on this cake, and if it had not been for the September heat, it would have stood tall the entire night. Just like many of Torres’ “first-time” stories in the baking/decorating realm, this portion of her business took off from here.
Time passed by and Torres was still working at home, working full-time at a manufacturing plant with Espinoza, and she was burnt out. Tragedy struck this family, work was stressful, and Torres’ anxiety was through the roof. It was at this low point that she knew that she did not want to work in a factory forever and started playing with the idea of owning her own business–and moving her baking adventures out of her home and into a real storefront. Torres did not waste much time going to Espinoza and proposing the idea of owning their own bakery. Espinoza responded with a lot of hesitation and thought that they had too much debt and that they just were not in a good position to start this endeavor.
At this moment, Torres responded to her reaction by saying, “We are always going to owe money. We are always going to have bills. But, are we going to wait until all of that magically disappears? Or, are we just going to go for it?”
With a convincing argument from her sister and full support from her husband, Espinoza was in. From there, the pair jumped head-first into the business world and they have not looked back since. Torres quit her job, they purchased the building that Delicioso resides in today in 2018, and they spent almost three years renovating the building.
From the day that Espinoza and Torres purchased the building, they worked tirelessly with their brother, their family, and anyone that was willing to lend a hand, to help get Delicioso open for business. They knew that it would be a slow process to completely transform and equip the building they had purchased, but they knew that it would be worth it in the end.
The sisters even got the chance to learn about the history of the building they were in and how it used to be the old Dairy King that was across the street from the local school. Kids would get out of school and run down the hill to get to the Dairy King. Many generations in Johnson County still talk about that place and how special it was in our community. Thankfully that building was still standing, allowing Espinoza and Torres to turn into something special yet again.
After three years of working every waking hour on their building, Delicioso prepared to open in May 2020. When COVID-19 happened, they had to push back their opening day; however, they were still hopeful of their business succeeding and they opened in September 2020. They had their date set, it was announced, and when they got into the building that morning, their pipe had busted and there was water everywhere. They had buckets catching water, Espinoza was cleaning up the standing water so that people could come inside when they opened, Torres was frantically baking, and they did their best to get through their opening day. After that day, everything that could go wrong did.
Espinoza explained that “Everything was telling us to close, but something was letting us continue…and we did. We made it.”
On top of having to fix their pipe that busted on opening day, within the first week of being open, their main refrigerated case broke, their AC stopped working, and they were dealing with pastries and buttercream in September in Arkansas. Somehow they made it work, they got through it, and did not ever have to close their doors.
“I would tell her (Otilia) that it is the good Lord slamming us with everything that could possibly go wrong and that if we could make it through all of that, then we can make it through anything,” Torres said.
As if these obstacles were not enough at the beginning of their business venture, it was just Espinoza and Torres running the shop without any additional employees. They would both get to the shop at two o’clock in the morning to get everything baked and ready for the day, Espinoza would run the customer service side of things, Torres would make coffees, and they would bake after they closed until about eleven or midnight, go home and take a nap, and do it all over again the next day. Within their first month, they were able to hire their first employee and she told them “I just don’t know how you guys are standing right now,” to which Torres replied, “By the grace of God, honey.”
Regardless of all of the hoops they had to jump through and the ladders, they had to climb, the community still showed up for Delicioso on the day they opened their doors, all of their friends and family made their grand opening/ribbon-cutting ceremony one of the largest Johnson County has seen, and they are still receiving that level of support to this day.
When asked how it felt to go through all that they did to open up and then to receive the overwhelming level of support that they did, Torres said, “It felt really good. We had family come in from Washington and Tulsa, and it was just a humbling experience.”
Espinoza felt overwhelmed with emotion when thinking back to this moment and she said, “It was very humbling. Just to have all of our friends and family around, and everyone else that continues to show up for us is really great.”
Espinoza and Torres have come such a long way since that first month, and Espinoza’s side of this story is worth mentioning as well. Coming into the “business world,” Espinoza loved to cook and work with people, but she did not like the baking side of things–or even crafting custom coffees for that matter. As business accelerated and Torres taught Espinoza everything she could about baking and coffee, Espinoza grew to love it, too. It was not always Espinoza’s dream to own Delicioso, but almost three years later she would not have it any other way. Ironically though, just as their business has grown, they have allowed themselves to grow in terms of their menu. Espinoza now has the opportunity to cook more with their breakfast burritos and sandwiches that they offer, and the lunch specials they offer on occasion. They have allowed their business to grow and develop on its own timeline–and so far that has been the best thing for them.
Delicioso Cupcakery & Coffee Shop has an origin story unlike any other and is still operating today because of passion, determination, and community. Espinoza and Torres are constantly thinking about new recipes to try, new foods, or experiences to bring to Clarksville through their business, and they have been doing these things since the day they opened. There are hopes and dreams in a list a mile long for Delicioso, as long as the community allows them to continue to open their doors every single day. Otilia Espinoza and Lupe Torres wanted more for themselves. They wanted more for their family. They wanted adventure and dynamic day-to-day lives. Most importantly, they wanted to be able to serve the community. If you or anyone you know is interested in a custom cake, delicious coffee, a sweet treat, or just a good conversation, make sure you point them in the direction of Delicioso Cupcakery and Coffee Shop.
Location: 1001 W Main St., Clarksville, AR, 72830
Web Link: https://www.clarksvillejocochamber.com/deliciosocupcakeryandcoffeeshop.html
After her time at the University of the Ozarks, Abby Asencio graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She now works as our Community Relations Director, continuing to connect our community.