We aren’t NYC or LA, so when the concept of no eggs, no dairy, and no nuts comes to us in the form of a cupcake, our initial reaction might be rejection.

But why? Is it at a Latin thing or a close minded thing?

It’s just not mainstream to us, it’s something foreign to a city filled with Hispanics that got their stomachs toughened with abuela’s dairy infested recipes.

But if it tastes good and if it doesn’t have cholesterol, why not give it a try?

As self-proclaimed hungries, we’ll try anything.

Ready or not, vegan foods and restaurants are going to be popping up left and right and it’s never a bad idea to check out other eating/lifestyle/diet alternatives.
Coming soon to Miami is the first local neighborhood vegan storefront for those that fancy sweets. It’s better known as Bunnie Cakes located on 2322 NE 2nd Avenue Miami, FL 33137.

It wasn’t easy but owner and cake maker, Mariana is officially putting the V in VEGAN. And we won’t be waiting long because thanks to almonds, rice, soy, apple sauce, mashed bananas and layers on top of layers of hard work, Bunnie Cakes will officially open its doors this Saturday, February 9th.

Mariana sat down for a quick chat to tell us her story while friends helped with the finishing touches, which included some furniture building, hanging family portraits and a classic poster of the Volkswagen hippie van.

Everything happens for a reason – is the moral of this story. And even though that redundant and irritating cliché is thrown around on too many occasions, in this case that horrible cliché applies. Unlike many pastry chefs and bakers, Mariana Cortez’s story didn’t necessarily start off as a passion to make vegan desserts or a background in pastry. It was her passion and love for her three children that brought her to where she stands today!

She explained to us that three years ago she was looking for a cake for her eldest son’s birthday. Her two year old at the time, is allergic to milk, so the only thing she was able to find was a dry chocolate cake with strawberries.
A baby’s first sweet is important, so she decided to make the cake from scratch using one of her grandma’s recipes and substituting the ingredients that her son could not eat.

Her grandma, Yolanda, was an expert when it came to cooking and baking, so with the necessary tweaks to the recipe, it ended up tasting really good.
Call it beginners luck? We’d say she was just naturally good at it.
With practice, Mari began making cupcakes at home. She said that one day she woke up and decided to quit her job – bold and crazy, yet genius.
Since then, production has grown. Her house was taken hostage by cupcakes on top of cupcakes.

Nowadays, she sells her cupcakes to Juice and Jave South Beach, Apple A Day, Angelinas, Honey Tree, Green Gables, Juice and Java Aventura, and Juice and Jave Boca.

With her store’s upcoming unveiling, Mari is in the process of moving out of a warehouse in Midtown and on to bigger challenges. Juggling between being a mother of three and the store being her fourth baby, we asked Mari what has been her main struggle.

She stresses, people don’t understand how hard it is to get investors to believe in your project. The most difficult part of it all was making people believe in her idea. People thought she was crazy, they would tell her that she was a dreamer and that dreamers didn’t get loans. Luckily people are beginning to get informed – just because it says gluten-free or vegan doesn’t mean that it’s going to be dry, overbaked, and have the texture of a hockey puck.
So hungries, the second and equally important motto of the story is: don’t knock it till you try it…

Bunnie cakes’ menu will offer cupcakes including Mari’s favorites: vanilla with chocolate chips and guava, donuts, cakes, cookies, brownies, pies and the addition of Dolci Peccati’s vegan line of gelatos.
For the future, you can expect to also have a taste of Bunnie Cakes’ vegan and gluten-free sandwiches, salads, and soups.

So for the dreamers: dream on and dream big – we know more good things are lined up for Mari and her Bunnie Cakes. Pretty soon we might even see a pink and turquoise hippie van parked outside the store!

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