Wilmington's Sugar on Front Street bakery receives national recognition
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The kitchen is almost always busy at Wilmington’s Sugar on Front Street.
All day long, Sam Smith mixes up, bakes and sells a variety of items.
"Like today, we had six pies on order and five birthday cakes, a couple dozen brownies, a couple dozen cookies and a couple of pounds of granola," said Smith.
What makes it even more impressive is that it is all done in a space that’s no larger than many walk-in closets.
"I believe we're right at 18 and a half [square feet] from when we were doing the blueprints, and I think I stole an extra foot or two over there in the corner, where I ended up putting the freezer, but, yeah, that's it,” said Smith.
It would be easy to completely miss Sugar on Front Street, as it is tucked away inside Old Books on Front Street.
Still, Smith sees being situated here as an asset.
"People who like books and good food are just, you know, fun to be around, so it kinda has a nice family feel,” she said.
Almost two years ago, Smith was talking with the bookstore owner about this sort of arrangement when things aligned, as if it was meant to be.
"The day she and I sat down to talk about it, that night, I got on Craigslist and there was an entire coffee shop inventory from a coffee shop that I had worked at on Topsail Island, ten years before,” said Smith. “That kinda sealed the deal."
Sugar on Front Street does sell drinks, but this is much more bakery than coffee shop.
From Smith's perspective, it fills a void in the market.
"I didn't feel like there was a place in town where you could get an affordable birthday cake, that was made from scratch and all natural and actually tasted like cake," she said.
The cakes and pies turned out here have earned a following.
Many customers have found the place and even national magazines have raved about its baked goods.
The philosophy here is to do everything by hand, use natural ingredients, and feature whatever is in season.
"Just really particular about making sure the fruit is amazing and if I can't get amazing fruit, then we don't have that pie then,” said Smith.
Smith says she is content in this spot, and quite happy in the amount of business she attracts.
"It was never about making money,” she said. “It was always about being able to feed people."
Realistically though, she knows that if the business continues to grow and more people discover her cakes and pies, this space might not be sufficient.
"I think probably I'll have to grow the kitchen, but I would always keep this,” said Smith.