We are Obsessed with Baking
HOW WE GOT OUR START
Sugar Bakery & Cafe is jointly owned by Stephanie Crocker and John McCaig. Our story started around 2001, when we were travelling in Hawaii. Pretty much everything we did centered around tasting and sharing all the foods from my childhood, which brought a rush of happy memories. On the plane ride back, we hit some serious turbulence. People were crying. The galley was trashed and the rest of the meal service was cancelled. When things leveled off, I turned back to a book I was reading about a catering company, and knew right then that I wanted to work in the food industry.
Hard work, passion and dedication are our favorite ingredients.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Our previous house had an old overgrown apple tree. When the giant apples were ready, we picked, peeled and cored them into buckets. We filled our freezer with apple pie and apple sauce. There was an upcoming fundraiser at John’s company so I baked up some caramel apple tartlets. They were a hit and John told me I should start a bakery. And the wheels started turning.
We needed a name. One night at dinner we glanced onto the table to the container of sugar packets. We knew the sweet and simple answer was right in front of us so we named the bakery Sugar. Sugar perfectly expressed our passion for pastry and of course each other (wocka wocka).
While working as a web designer, I spent the next year, studying baking chemistry and developing recipes. I did a little market research on the four flavors of tarts I made. That was fun. We drove to Olympia and got our business license, and Sugar started selling tarts wholesale to coffee shops in Seattle in September 2003. The following year, we added shortbread, scones, and our delicious cinnamon brioche. We also started selling at local Farmer’s Markets, which we loved despite the extra work it took to set up our tent without getting into a spat! Finally, in 2007, we landed a retail space on First Hill, where our real adventure is said to begin. We love the community of hospitals, offices, and apartments in our neighborhood, where most of our customers stop by daily. I don’t think anybody can complain when they’re in the business of making people smile.
But with all that said, I don’t think any of this could be possible without the help of our most important ingredient, our talented bakers and friendly baristas that work for us. We are so thankful that they put up with us as we learn how to run a business from scratch. We are so very grateful for their hard work and dedication.
Medosweet Farms. We stick with Medosweet Farms because they have really great customer service and really great natural products. They stock cage free eggs which we like because we love chickens. They let us use one of their refrigerated trucks once when we were doing a large order for a charity. They’re simply good people.
Caffe Vita Coffee. Bob at Caffe Vita has been with the company for over 10 years. He drove me to the country one day to buy my espresso machine. I mean who would do that? We bonded over conversations about food that we liked. Plus, they make really great coffee and its roasted just a few blocks from our shop.
Merlino Foods. I always used to say that a good day was when I got to go to Merlino to pick up some supplies. Now they come to me. From the great products they stock to the friendly employees they employ, its just a no-brainer that I would choose them for most of my dry goods.
Shepards Grain Flour. I went on a tour of one of the local farms that grows wheat for Shepard’s Grain and was blown away by how much thought went into growing wheat. Shepard’s grain farmers don’t till their soil, which stops erosion and makes their soil naturally healthy. It’s like sustainable on crack. Because they aren’t on the tractor all the time, a relatively small farm can have a go at growing wheat and turn a profit. They have a system of crop rotations that ensure the long term health of the soil. Without good soil, there is no future. So I’m sticking with their plan.