RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Businesses welcome customers to their establishment with a few tried-and-true techniques to set the ambiance. Gas station attendants greet travelers as a digital "ding-dong" announces their arrival. Musicians set the mood at bars and restaurants with live tunes.
At Star Spangled Batter, a cupcake shop and bakery, the smell of freshly-baked cupcakes, proudly on display, is the first thing that hits you when you walk through the door.
Brenden Berger, owner of the 'cake shop, said he is "nose-blind" to the smell, but his customers are not: "I get asked all the time, 'what do you guys have bakin'?, and, sometimes, I don't even have anything bakin'. It's just the ambiance. It's in the air."
Berger is a pastry chef with a background in luxury dining at the five-star Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs. His culinary degree required him to have an internship, and he was a constant patron of the legendary resort, so it was only natural to apply at the resort.
"What a better opportunity to see if I could scope it out … and once I got there and I started working, they're like 'you're going to be working this Sunday brunch,'" Berger said. "I was like, 'well, that's awesome.' This was what kind of got me started here in the first place ... growing up, I always thought how awesome it would be to be your own business owner, let alone your own bakery owner."
However, Brendan's baking journey almost derailed before it began. Five years ago, his hand slipped into a pot of boiling water during his internship.
"It singed all the way up into my hand - all the way up into my wrist - and I had blisters on these three fingers that were about [several inches] high."
His injury has since healed, and Berger remains an extremely capable baker. He is good at capturing both the sweet and the savory, but prefers baking - the less stressful of the two.
"It's more relaxing than the cooking side. It's less stressful, and, obviously, who doesn't like a good sweet, you know?"
Star Spangled Batter's name has stayed the same since the business first launched more than two years ago, but they have taken on a new look. The business aesthetics once reflected a "cute, mom" scene that his fiance, Erica, attempted. Now, the store's theme is "patriotic; red, white and blue; stars and stripes."
Every day, Berger and his fiance team up to make hundreds of cupcakes and cookies. They spend about a dozen hours each day baking dozens upon dozens of sweets.
On Valentine's Day, baking's biggest holiday, they anticipated some unexpected requests.
"A lot of those last minute people that are going 'oh man, I forgot it's Valentine's Day. I need something for my significant other. What am I going to get them? Oh, a six-pack of cupcakes: that's perfect,'" Berger said.
And a few last minute sugar rushes are customary.
"You have those younger folks that are in high school or in college and it's their first, real crush and they want to impress them on Valentine's Day … so, we just like to be a part of those little moments. Whether it's us, personally, or it's our product, we want to make sure that what goes out the door, people are always happy with and it makes them smile."