Menasha’s The Sweet Lair offers personalized cupcakes, coffee flights, games

MENASHA — When Bri Lutz opened The Sweet Lair, she brought more than sweet recipes from her home-baking business to order at Menasha Cafe, 204 Main St.

“I liked that customers liked being able to design their own stuff,” Lutz said. “When I decided to move into this space, I thought, ‘Would it be fun to design your own cupcakes?'”

New customers might skip the cupcakes. But that’s not because the cupcakes are surrounded by a rotation of mouth-watering goodies like chocolate chip cookies, signature brownies, maple banana bread or apple pie cinnamon rolls. .

“You look at the pastry and you’re confused,” jokes Lutz. “Are those muffins?” Where’s the frosting?

Icing? Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down, there are other decisions to make before we start talking about icing.

First, choose a size. Regular or, as Lutz puts it, “level up” to jumbo. Then choose a flavor. Vanilla and Chocolate are still available, but there’s a rotation of other flavors like Confetti, Strawberry, Red Velvet, Carrot, Marble, Chocolate Chip, and Lemon.

The cupcakes from The Sweet Lair are not frosted, which can be a bit confusing.  Are these muffins?  Where's the frosting?  But the staff (and the sign) teach guests how to customize their cupcakes.

Then, if you want a filler, now is the time to decide. They scoop out part of the cupcake to make room for your choice of nuts, candy, fruit, or frosting.

Then, for the frosting, there’s always vanilla buttercream, chocolate, and cream cheese available — and usually a flavor of the day, week, month, or season.

If that’s too much decision-making, there are predefined “mystery” options in the case.

Most of the treats Lutz makes come from recipes she found online and tweaked to her liking. These are baked goods that have more in common with the homemade treats you find at a bake sale, religious ceremony, or family reunion.

Lutz said she enjoys cooking and baking, but due to Wisconsin’s artisan food law that allows home bakers to sell baked goods directly to customers, it was easier to start the bakery side of the business.

Since opening The Sweet Lair, she’s added savory options like the Hungriest Hippo Breakfast Sandwich (bacon, sausage, eggs and cheese on a homemade bagel) and D6 Pizza Bagels (open style on homemade bagels and topped with sauce homemade pizza, provolone cheese and pepperoni).

The Sweet Lair serves a full range of coffee drink options. Can’t make up your mind? Try a flight of four coffees (hot or iced) served with four mini cupcakes. These cupcakes do not fill. Usually these coffee pairing flavors are dictated by custom cake orders, Lutz said, because they will make some extra batter to use for the mini cupcakes.

There is a 12-sided die for the undecided to choose their four glasses. Or you can choose drinks like Spicy Check Mate Mocha, Mrs. White Chocolate Mocha or an ube infused latte.

Ube is a popular purple sweet potato in Filipino cuisine. It is often used in sweet treats. Lutz’s mother came to the United States from the Philippines.

“I grew up surrounded by two different cultures. It’s fun to honor where we come from and how that makes us who we are today,” Lutz wrote in a post on The Facebook page. Sweet Air.

If you caught the board game’s references to many foods and drinks, that’s a clue to the final bit of what Lutz intended The Sweet Lair to be. Although it also clearly stated on the sign out front: “board game cafe”.

Bri Lutz combines two of her passions at The Sweet Lair: baking and board games.  The name is a play on words, she says - a lair being a meeting place that looks like

“I’ve always loved games and I’m pretty competitive,” Lutz said.

Her home collection takes up an entire wall, plus a few other nooks.

A game store-sized assortment of tabletop games are available to The Sweet Lair customers.

A mural painted by a local artist is a game in itself. Can you name all the pieces in the game? A keen eye will spot Waldo.

The combination of sweets and games in one place gave rise to the name of the cafe.

“The Sweet Lair: A lair. A lair. A hideout. A secret place to go. That’s the part of the game,” Lutz said. “Then the sweet is obviously the desserts, and then the sweet layer of desserts because we put extra stuff in there. It’s kind of a pun.”

If you are going to

Who: The sweet lairWhat: Café and bakery with customizable cupcakes, coffee robberies and board games.When: Open Tuesday to SundayWhere: 204 Main Street, MenashaHow: Dine in, take out, order online.Contact: Facebook @TheSweetLairLLC; 920-558-4041

Contact Daniel Higgins [email protected] Follow @HigginsEats on Twitter and Instagram and like on Facebook.

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