Former NFL players-turned-bakers star in “The Cupcake Guys”

The two former Tennessee Titans started a business that celebrates the sweet things in life.

The three men stand with pink aprons on in the store.

From left to right, Brian Orakpo, Bryan Hynson, and Michael Griffin.

Photo by Felicia Graham

Need some sweet weekend content to binge? City Editor Figi here 👋 — allow me to suggest “The Cupcake Guys.”

The show, which is free to watch on the Roku channel, follows the real-life tale of former Longhorn footballers and Tennessee Titan teammates Michael “Griff” Griffin and Brian “Rak” Orakpo retiring and opening their own Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise on 3944 Ranch Rd. 620 S.

Along with longtime friend and business partner Bryan Hynson, the trio sat with ATXtoday to talk about “life after the game.”

After 10 years of playing in the NFL, born-and-raised Austinite Griffin said players reach “grandfather time” around age 30. Both wanted to leave the league on their own terms and walk away from the game before getting injured.

Griffin and Orakpo, who played safety and linebacker respectively, originally began eating Gigi’s Cupcakes while living in Nashville. They were heading back to Austin after quitting the league anyway, so opening their cupcake franchise in 2018 was a natural transition.

An array of colorful cupcakes piled high with frosting on a table.

The cupcakes are piled high with frosting and come in a wide variety of revolving flavors.

Photo by Felicia Graham

And the guys actually do run the cupcake shop, along with seven other employees. Griffin is pastry chef, Orakpo is head decorator, and Hynson does the books.

“We’re not culinary experts at all, we just saw the craze for cupcakes, and who doesn’t love cupcakes?” Hynson said. “We had an amazing experience starting the store and it’s been great since — we’re about to hit our fifth anniversary.”

A van with a cartoonized version of the three men on the side.

The cupcake van may look cute, but there’s some drama behind it.

Photo by Felicia Graham

Like Austin, these cupcakes are unique. The Cupcake Guys can decorate any Austin decal — like a Longhorn or tie-dyed “Keep Austin Weird” — but they also occasionally offer a special-edition flavor like margarita, affogato, or coconut for $2 Tuesday.

But the show deals with more than just the trials and tribulations of running a cupcake store through a pandemic successfully. “The Cupcake Guys” also shows that sometimes, family life isn’t a piece of cake.

Orakpo and Hynson fist bump next to Griffin and the van.

Though they may butt heads at times, the guys always stay friends.

Photo by Felicia Graham

“When we started this business, we kept trying to put content out each and every day, but the content just us being ourselves,” Griffin said. “Us being fathers, being husbands, and being girl dads is just a different world than what people are accustomed to when thinking about professional athletes.”

To celebrate the show’s release, the guys shared a chocolate cupcake recipe:

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 350º2. Mix dry ingredients together and whisk until thoroughly combined.
3. Add milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla to the flour mixture and mix until fully combined.
4. Add the boiling water to the mixture and mix until combined.
5. Line 24 cupcake pans with liners and fill each halfway.
6. Bake 20-22, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
7. Add your favorite frosting.

You can watch the guys go from footballers to cupcake-makers in the six-episode limited series show for free, or place an order here.

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