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As a 3-year-old girl, Carissa Jones dreamed of a life of baking, and on Tuesday, she opened her first bakery, Sugar and Spice Specialty Desserts on the corner of 12th and F streets.
“We make traditional European desserts with an American twist,” she said. “Everyone has had a meringue cookie, but we make green apple martini meringues.”
Jones has been a pastry chef for six years, earning her stripes as a wedding caterer. Every time she catered a wedding for the past three years, sharing kitchen space at various restaurants, she was tracking what worked and what didn’t with the goal of opening a successful bakery.
“One of the things I’ve always liked about baking was that once you know the rules, you know which ones you need to abide by, which ones you can bend and which ones you can break,” she said.
Sugar and Spice might seem like a small business, but Jones said she isn’t quite there yet.
“I aspire to becoming a small business,” she said. “I’m smaller than a small business.”
In order to open the shop without taking out a loan, Jones searched for a space that already had an exhaust hood – something she said can cost anywhere from $10,000 - $60,000 to have installed.
The 800-square-foot space most recently housed a deli, and it housed another bakery before that, the Real Pie Company.
The baking equipment is mostly secondhand, with only two new machines, and there are no employees – just an intern, a woman serving an apprenticeship and helpful friends.
“Carissa (Jones) is a great friend, and I’m between jobs, so I stepped in and helped,” said Brandy Capik, who helped Jones’ husband paint the shop and was icing cupcakes Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m excited,” Capik said. “It’s fun getting to help a friend make a dream come true.”
Jones said she arrives every day at 4 a.m. to start baking, and she bakes throughout the day so there is always something fresh.
She added that she is not particularly worried about starting a business in a recession.
“Life is not worth living without a little risk,” she said. “It’s a great location, and what we do is unique.”
In addition to cookies, marshmallows and croissants, Jones also carries a creme brulée cake, and a peanut butter and jelly cake.
To start the business, Jones said she used other local businesses to help with things like the glasswork on the front, the signage and the labels in the cases, which were done by The Calligraphy Girl, Lara Kinris.
“I think this is such a good idea,” Kinris said as she brought her young daughter into the shop. “She is a really good baker, and her stuff is unique. The pop tarts are delicious. They’re huge puff pastries, and they have homemade frosting.”
A downtown location was important for Jones when finding a space, despite having possible locations in Granite Bay and Folsom, she said.
“I looked into the suburbs, but I thought that people won’t come from downtown to the suburbs,” she said. “They will come from the suburbs down here, go out to dinner, see a show, and get dessert.”
Bill Kennedy, managing attorney at Legal Services of Northern California, has an office two doors down on 12th Street, and he said he is glad to see the new business.
“This is actually an up-and-coming area,” he said. “This will bring more foot traffic, and I’d love to support this. I can see having them feed us at our weekly staff meetings. It’s great to have something local.”
Currently, hours are from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m., but Jones said they could change as business levels dictate.
Orders of $30 or more from people within eight blocks of the store can have their goods delivered for $5 by bike from Light Speed, a messenger service Jones is partnering with. Orders can be phoned in to the bakery at (916) 952-5253.
For more information, visit the Sugar and Spice Specialty Desserts website.
Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.