Gordon Wilkins is a Diva
You will find 50-year-old Utah native Gordon Wilkins at Diva’s Cupcakes and Coffee most days, working at his computer at one of the tables, working on the back patio or dome, or helping the kitchen staff with the food, drinks, confectioneries, or taking customer’s orders.
“I like to work. I wanted to go to New York for a couple of days to relax recently and see some shows, but I thought I should stay here,” said Wilkins, reflecting his dedication to creating a versatile eatery/coffee house atmosphere to visit with friends, inside or out, while enjoying sandwiches, cupcakes, coffee or tea or studying or getting work done with the free wireless.
Wilkins opened Diva’s in October 2008 with the goal of providing a clean, creative environment for all Utahns to enjoy.
“The thing I love about this place is that we are very diverse. There are old people, straight people, gay people, young people and people from all backgrounds and experiences,” said Wilkins.
Not a stranger to starting and running his own businesses, Wilkins also owns a small landscaping business and was past owner of The Gathering Place at Garden Village, an event- and party-planning business, from 1997 to 2000.
Growing up in Roosevelt, Utah, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and later attending Utah State University, Wilkins said he always knew he was gay. After dating the same women for seven years, he asked a gay friend to take him to one of Salt Lake City’s gay bars. “I was lying,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins stature is that of basketball player, standing at 6 foot 5 inches, with a winning smile and “can-do” demeanor.
“I was looking for a building on Highland and once I found this place was available and peered over the fence into the back yard, where a gigantic Sycamore tree grew, I knew I wanted it, without even seeing the inside,” Wilkins said.
The inspiration for Diva’s just came to him one morning.
“I woke up and had cupcakes on my mind and Googled cupcakes and there was everything you wanted to know about cupcakes,” he said. “I talked to my friends and family and they thought I was a kook.”
With his 18-month business plan in hand and his friend Matt, who helped get him the financing and announced it as a “fixer-upper,” Wilkins started with the landscaping of the back patio, the inside dome area, and the front of the building.
“I originally wanted to pull down the dome, but it is a historical landmark, I guess.” Wilkins said.
The dome was used extensively when the place was called Pearson Floral and Wilkins says people remember the dome on 33rd South.
Wilkins developed the interior as winter started and he noticed that sales jumped with the use of the extra space.
Located east of Highland Drive, once locals learned about the outdoor deck in back of the building, the comfortable, conservatory-style dome filled with plants, orchids and a rock fireplace, as well as the free internet library connecting the dome to a traditional-style coffee house, Diva’s has become a gathering place at all times of the day and evening.
Opening every morning at 6:30 a.m., except Sundays at 7:00 a.m., Diva’s offers daily brews — light, dark and medium — of organic, shade-grown coffee exclusively from Caffe Ibis of Logan, Utah.
The lunch menu features creative combinations, all made fresh, including sandwich bread from Stone Ground Bakery. Wilkins makes his own granola, soups, salads, sticky buns and yogurt, plus brioche — a homemade, French breakfast bread that is a rare find in Salt Lake City.
But the specialty item at Diva’s is the cupcake.
“Nothing is from a box,” said Wilkins. “Using Sysco flour, the cupcakes are from recipes that I and the kitchen staff have tweaked a bit.”
Featuring two sizes — medium and mini — different flavored cupcakes are rotated, but Red Velvet is the number one seller.
“You can order by the box with 48-hour notice,” Wilkins noted.
Specialty cakes, wedding cakes, chocolate-covered strawberries and gourmet cupcakes are also available to order and Diva’s new products in the Spring will include homemade gelato and jam from local farms and food products.
Diva’s is also featuring local artists each month, with a Meet the Artist night the last Thursday of every month. February’s featured artist is husband and wife team, Tyler Davis and Bregelle Whitworth Davis, highlighting two distinct styles of fine art and subject matter.
Diva’s also features Scrabble and chess tournaments, take a book to read and leave one, and a Saturday night acoustic music evening featuring local musicians.
Wilkins also supports local gay and lesbian sports leagues, lending a hand at the recent QUAC dessert night providing creampuffs, chocolate covered strawberries and his classic cupcakes for visitors and team members as part of the swim club’s annual Ski N’ Swim fundraiser weekend.
“I tell people that my dog is the diva,” Wilkins said. But Diva’s Cupcakes and Coffee is all Wilkins vision.
Enjoy Diva’s Cupcakes and Coffee, located at 1560 E. 3300 South, www.divascupcakes.com, or 801-485-0619. Call for winter and summer hours.