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Peter McNiff, co-owner of Republic of Cake, shows the different varieties of cupcakes sold in their store in Oakley, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group)

During the holiday season Republic of Cake is offering chocolate peppermint, gingerbread Meyer lemon, almond cranberry, and pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes. It also offers four kinds of cookies, including chocolate chip, snicker doodle, oatmeal raisin and sugar cookies.

The bakery offers large orders, a cupcake club and gift certificates in five-dollar increments.

How did you get in the business: A family tragedy convinced McNiff that it was time to change his life and leave a 27-year career in telecommunications that he didn't like. He decided to use his business background and partner with his friend Chung Fang, who was a baker, and open their own cupcake business.

"We didn't want any fancy packaging, just high-quality cupcakes at reasonable prices," McNiff said.

Best part about the business: "I like to see the place full of people, coming in to enjoy whatever new creation we're making," McNiff said.

McNiff said that cupcakes are comfort food. People remember making them with family when they were younger and the safe and nice feelings they get.

Worst part about the business: McNiff can't think of anything that he would consider negative.

Key to success: "Our high quality and the fact that we change flavors every month is a big part of it," McNiff said.

He explained that they focus on four things: quality, innovation, service and price.

"We really concentrate on the first three and the last we just make sure that we charge what we think is reasonable," he said. "We have a really great product and provide friendly service."

Biggest misperception about the business: "Not all cupcake shops are pretty and pink," McNiff said. When he and his partner set out to build a cupcake shop they didn't want to build a shop like the cupcake shops that had been recently popular, but one that had a good-tasting, quality product everyone would like.

Future plans: Since they only recently opened the Oakley location, McNiff said their plans are only to get this shop up and running for the near future.

-- Roni Gehlke, Correspondent

Name of business: Republic of Cake
Type of business: Cupcake bakery
Owners: Peter McNiff and Chin Chung Fang
Founded: Oakley location: Nov. 26, 2013; Orinda location 2009.
Address: 3080 Main St., Oakley
Phone number: 925-420-6839
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Number of employees: eight
Products and services: Republic of Cake offers several varieties of homemade cupcakes and cookies. Each month the company's baker, Chung Fang, changes the menu and adds new varieties of cupcakes and cookies. They also offer cookie-sandwich ice cream.