Business Buzz – January 2021

(Elana O’Loskey, Photographer)
What do Very Messy Chocolate, Chocolate Velvet and Vanilla Sprinkles have in common? They are mini or full-sized cupcakes looking for a home. See Republic of Cake owner Lindsay Pirkle in Orinda Theatre Square for adoption.

Republic of Cake
    Republic of Cake offers delectable cupcakes in mini to full sizes, cookies, cakes and all manner of imaginative baked goods made with locally sourced ingredients minus lard or butter substitutes. One taste confirms the ingredients are real; try anything made with chocolate as a test.
    Owner Lindsay Pirkle’s good friends and mentors, Chih-Chung Fang and Peter McNiff, founded Republic of Cake (ROC) in 2010. They trained her well; she purchased the business from them in 2016 to fulfill her lifelong dream of owning a bakery. Pirkle said, “I love working in a kitchen with the aroma of fresh treats, the gleam of sparkling clean surfaces and the sound of a whirring mixer. It’s my favorite place to be.”
    Born in San Francisco and raised in the East Bay, Pirkle has a Bachelor’s degree in Employee Relations from San Francisco State University. She worked with local and national chefs at Ingredients Cooking School in Danville.
    Orinda holds a special place for her family because her father Leonard Pirkle and his business partner Derek Zemrak own the Orinda Theatre and Cine Cuvee. Before taking over ROC, she served as general manager of the Orinda and Rheem Theatres for six years. Though she lives in Danville with her husband and daughter, Pirkle stays involved in the local community by supporting Orinda schools, local hospitals, Contra Costa Food Bank, Lamorinda Arts Council and St. Monica’s Church in Moraga.
    A quick survey of cupcake lovers in Theatre Square elicited this list of favorites: Very Messy Chocolate (filled with chocolate ganache topped with chocolate buttercream); Chocolate Velvet (devil’s food cake topped with cream cheese frosting and chocolate sprinkles) and gluten free vanilla (baked with sprinkles topped with vanilla frosting and more sprinkles).
    You can choose among mini or full-size cupcakes, cookies or special-order cakes and pies; gluten free items must be ordered in advance. “We change our menu bi-weekly. New and popular items include our 7” full size cakes and Decorate-Your-Own Cookie kits,” said Pirkle.
    Pirkle said, “I wish I had time for hobbies, but I do love gardening and having a two-year old. I love teaching her new things. She loves to help me in the kitchen and around the house. We go on walks together and, of course, park time is a must.”
    Visit Republic of Cake at 2 Theatre Square #151 in Orinda or go to Shelter-In-Place hours are Wed. – Sun. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Pirkle prefers calls at 925.254.3900 for same day pickup, or if you are emailing your order after 2 p.m. for next day pickup ( You will find a limited amount of freshly baked items on hand in store, but ordering in advance works best. Holiday hours: Closed Fri. Jan. 1 – Tues. Jan. 5. All COVID-19 precautions observed.

(Elana O’Loskey, Photographer)
Orinda resident Kelly Sopak cut his commute by moving his State Farm office from Albany to Orinda mid-pandemic. “The timing was actually good because no one expects to visit me anyway,” said Sopak.

State Farm Insurance
    Kelly Sopak of Orinda began with State Farm in 1994 and relocated to the Bay Area in 2000. He moved his office from Albany to Orinda in 2020 after the pandemic hit.
    “I leased the Northwood space two years ago,” said Sopak. “Moving mid-pandemic actually made the transition easier because no one was expecting to visit me in person anyway.”
    After running his State Farm business in the Albany/Berkeley area for 12 years, the time seemed right to relocate to Orinda so he could be closer to home. He focuses on home, business and car insurance with the help of Insurance Account Representatives Heather Golden, Debora Miller, Michalea Thomas and Lauren Sopak.
    Sopak spent 11 years coaching Girls Varsity basketball at Miramonte. He and his wife Beverly have two daughters, Lauren and Leah, both Miramonte grads. Lauren studies abroad, finishing up a business degree in France, and Leah, a freshman at St. Martin’s University in Washington, studies criminal justice and plays basketball.
    While insurance does not make for exciting dinner conversation, according to Sopak, he has done it his whole life and finds it fascinating. He also loves cars and homes, making being involved with both through his insurance business make sense. He advises people to review their insurance coverage to ensure a correct setup and proper coverage in the event of a claim. He offers to meet people in person, over the phone or via Zoom to personalize a plan.
    He and his wife hope things return to normal so they can participate in community events. In his spare time, he coaches basketball, loves old muscle cars and just took up golf again in his COVID-19 free time.
    You’ll find Sopak’s State Farm office at 1 Northwood Dr., Suite 1 in Orinda, or visit, email or call 925.253-7700. Hours are Mon. – Thu. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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