Eat dessert first.
For those who wear that motto on their sleeve, Shugga Hi is the place to be.
Located on Dickerson Pike in Nashville, owners Sandra Austin and Kathy Leslie hosted the grand opening of their bakery and café in mid-August.
The sisters are lifelong entrepreneurs, but Shugga Hi, which seats 42 people and can accommodate small groups, is their first restaurant. The café also offers a full bar and take-out food service, including ready-to-go fresh salads.
“We sell baked goods and use real sugar, and so it is a play on words – ‘Shugga’ for Sugar and ‘Hi’ for that sugar high, but also ‘hi’ as in welcome,” Leslie explained. “We want people to feel welcome.”
“Our slogan is ‘Dessert First,’ Leslie added. “We serve a Sip of Cake line, which are cakes and cupcakes infused with alcohol,” she said. “We sell baked goods including, but not limited to, cakes, pies, cookies and donuts. In our café, we serve brunch all day, and our specialty is Cake Waffles and the Shugga Hi Cake Waffle Burger.”
From the decor to the menu items and names (“Clicking Chicken, “Our Future” for kids’ dishes), Leslie said the café is going for a “funky chic vibe.”
There is a stage for music on which Leslie says local talent will perform Friday and Saturday evenings.
Born and raised in East Nashville, the two sisters say their inspiration for this café “comes from God and family.”
“Our mother Catherine was a great cook and baker,” Leslie said. “Her desserts were so good that you would want to eat them first. My sister (Sandra) bakes just like her. I call her a master baker.
“To ‘sit and sup’ with someone is an honor. We are honored to have people come and dine with us. We believe in customer service and it is an honor to serve the community."
The bakery is on Dickerson Pike, a part of East Nashville that has often been left out of the area’s rapid growth – but that's changing.
Leslie explained, “I’ve always been an entrepreneur, and we felt like this was the right time and place. This is a growing area – a beacon of light. There is a lot of development going on. We could help provide jobs.” Shugga Hi currently staffs close to 10 employees.
“We have a growth goal – to open up other Shugga Hi’s and perhaps franchise – as soon we get this one right,” Leslie said.
“We both come from customer service backgrounds and want to make sure people have a good eating and dining experience. What we have learned so far is that the restaurant business is a hard thing to do, and we had never done it before, so it’s a ‘learn on the job kind of thing.'”
Leslie added, so far, the reaction of customers has all been positive and some have already come back for multiple visits.
“The community is glad we are here,” she said. “We took a lot of time to make sure people feel comfortable.”