SugarJam The Southern Kitchen celebrates a busy 2 years

Two years in the restaurant business might as well be a lifetime therefore it worth celebrating. That’s what’s been going on lately at north Scottsdale’s popular brunch spot SugarJam The Southern Kitchen. Owner Dana Dumas started baking her SugarJam cookies over 20 years ago for friends and family and business has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 2 years.

With no formal training cooking herself she learned from her Le Cordon Bleu trained great aunt Mable and her grandmother Thelma how to make baked goods and the family’s southern food recipes. Dana herself grew up in New York City and the suburbs of New Jersey (like yours truly) before moving to Scottsdale after the events of September 11th 2001. A career in business for Macy’s and Toy’s R Us taught her how businesses were run and how to use marketing to her advantage.

“It is an honor to bring authentic southern cuisine to the Valley and to be able to create a unique brunch experience that brings everyone together,” said Dumas. “I am truly grateful for the outpour of love and support from my customers over the past two years, and since the beginning of SugarJam. We are excited for another year at SugarJam The Southern Kitchen and all that’s in store.”

The early years at SugarJam

Dana started SugarJam Cookies in 2011 baking her signature jam filled sugar cookies at home and selling them at farmer’s markets and street fairs. With demand growing she needed more kitchen space for baking and the catering requests she was getting. She found a spot down the road from the current location in the Scottsdale Airpark. The bakery and small cafe featured a small breakfast & lunch menu and her baked goods. Things we going well until March of 2020 when the Covid pandemic brought dining out to a halt. The business started doing family meals and before she knew there were cars lined up for a few hours on Friday nights and Saturday mornings for people to pick up their meals.

As restaurants began to open up in the Spring, Dana knew once again she would need more room to accommodate the growing popularity of her cooking and baking. It turns out as she and her husband started looking at other locations nearby, one of her regular customers was a property manager of a strip mall a mile up the road with a vacancy. After the owners would fly in to meet with her and taste her Southern cooking, a deal was struck and SugarJam The Southern Kitchen opened on January 29th 2021.

SugarJam cookies

She hasn’t gone without some struggles like that of the rest of the restaurant industry. Staffing and supply chain issues had Dana treading cautiously but now has a staff of 32 “family” members serving breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday. Several have been with her the last two years. She tried dinner service, although successful it wasn’t successful when it came to a work life balance as a wife and mother of 2 teenage boys and dinner was short lived. When not in school or driving them to high school sports her sons and husband may be found lending mom a helping hand at the restaurant. Her dad played a role in helping design the restaurant and is her “Mr. Fix It” when needed.

In the summer of 2022 she opened The Market at SugarJam, a gift shop featuring finds from local and national businesses.

I know you’re asking what’s on the menu? How about scratch made Creole Shrimp N’ Grits, French Toast & Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders with a delicious house made rum maple syrup, Salmon Croquettes, Catfish and Southern style grits along with pies, beignets and lots more. With a full bar guests can enjoy craft cocktails and flights of Mimosas.

What’s next?

In the coming weeks Dana will do some re-arranging moving The Market and cases filled with baked goods to an adjoining space she’s used for extra seating capacity. The freed up space will have more seating and a better flow enhancing the guest experience.

Having picked up several corporate and private catering opportunities she’s staffing up and training the kitchen staff in order to bring back catering in the coming weeks to grow the business. Don’t expect to see other locations of SugarJam as it’s not in the cards for her. The time away from the Airpark location would have her spending less time in the kitchen and with her customers. She also feels that it’s a destination restaurant with many guests flying in to Scottsdale Airport and making the restaurant their first stop.

SugarJam The Southern Kitchen is at 15111 N. Hayden Rd. Scottsdale 85260. Hours are Wednesday – Sunday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. with the kitchen closing at 2:30. To view the menu and for more information visit their website.

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Events & news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Get a Lox Box for National Bagel & Lox Day at Chompie’s

Thursday, February 9th all 4 locations of the Jewish deli will be offering the favorite breakfast to-go for $24.99. The Lox Box includes 6 bagels (2 plain, 2 sesame & 2 everything) 8oz. of cream cheese and 8oz. of smoked salmon. The special is available all day.

Source Restaurant grand opening in Gilbert

Tomorrow Saturday, February 24th the new fast fine dining concept celebrates it grand opening from open to close. The new Mediterranean inspired restaurant, bakery and market at Gilbert’s new Epicenter mix used development will welcome guests with 20% off everything and a DJ.  The best part is you can enter to win a year’s worth of artisan bread.

The new Papago Brewing Company opens today

Friday February 3rd marks the re-incarnation of the popular taproom and restaurant at its new location at Mesa Riverview. Leah and Jeff Huss of Huss Brewing Co. brought the popular Scottsdale taproom back to life after the original location closed for re-development. Read the full story at my feature post from November.

Valentine’s Day inspired drinks at Stemistry in February

The Gen Z version of a flower & coffee shop from 16 year old Dylan Capshaw opened last year combining his two passions, flowers and coffee. The Scottsdale location is at 90th St. & Via Linda with a new downtown Phoenix location opening soon. Three lovely coffee drink specials are available all month long.

  • Red Velvet Mocha- Rose and dark chocolate latte
  • Love Bug Latte- Fresh rose petals, rose cold foam
  • Cupid’s Cappuccino- Dark chocolate coconut cappuccino

Ask Dylan about his Valentine’s Day flower specials.

Morning Squeeze opens The Catering Kitchen

To meet the demand of office and group catering functions the breakfast and lunch spot has opened a separate kitchen. The Catering Kitchen offers a similar menu at the 3 locations and caters to groups of 10 or more. Breakfast items include breakfast burritos, bagel & lox, sandwiches and lots of coffee. They serve over 100 gallons of coffee per month through their catering operation. More information and to order from The Catering Kitchen visit https://morningsqueeze.com/

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

 

Semifinalists for 2023 Restaurant & Chef Awards announced

This morning The James Beard Foundation announced the Semifinalists for its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards. Arizona is again well represented throughout several categories. Nominees will be announced Wednesday, March 29th and winners announced Monday, June 5th 2023 in Chicago. You can see the list of all 2023 semifinalists here.

The 2023 Arizona semifinalists are……

Outstanding Chef

Silvana Salcido Esparza, Barrio Café, Phoenix

Outstanding Restaurant

Proper Meats + Provisions, Flagstaff

Emerging Chef

Christian Lowe, Shift Kitchen & Bar, Flagstaff

Outstanding Bakery

JL Patisserie, Phoenix and Scottsdale

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

Crystal Kass, Valentine, Phoenix

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

Glai Baan, Phoenix

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK)

Rene Andrade and Roberto Centeno, Bacanora, Phoenix

Jaren Bates and Brett Vibber, The Table at Junipine, Sedona

Nephi Craig, Café Gozhóó, Whiteriver

Wendy Garcia, Tumerico, Tucson

Fernando Hernández, Testal, Phoenix

Yotaka and Alex Martin, Lom Wong, Phoenix

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Events & news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Pita Jungle offers an assorted Baklawa Box for the holidays

Whether for holiday parties or giving as a gift Baklawa makes for a delicious treat. The layered phyllo dough, honey and pistachio Mediterranean treat is made in house and available at all 23 locations starting at $16 through the holidays and into 2023.

“Die Hard” dinner at Found: RE Hotel

The downtown Phoenix hotel hosts a four course themed dinner of the blockbuster Bruce Willis film on Saturday, December 17th. The restaurant will be transformed into the 30th floor of Nakotomi Plaza for a fun evening with dinner starting at 6:30 p.m. Seats at $79++ per person and reservations can be made here. The menu is as follows….

Nakatomi Seafood Tower with lobster claw, jumbo shrimp and oyster with cocktail sauce and lemon mignonette  

Yippee Kai Yay MotherClucker Salad — mixed greens and napa cabbage salad with scallions, pea shoots, ghost chili-dusted wonton strips, roasted chicken and spicy sesame dressing 

The German Twins — pork and beef schnitzel with warm German potato salad and Jagerschnitzel sauce

“Sugar-enriched flour, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, polysorbate 60 and yellow dye No. 5. Just everything a growing boy needs” Cake — yellow sponge cake filled with buttercream frosting, Crunch bar pieces, broken sugar glass and raspberry sauce 

Taittinger Champagne dinner at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale

Thursday December 15th is when the celebrated champagne house’s bubbles will be paired with a 5 course meal. The dinner is part of the resort’s monthly Winemaker Dinner series held in Alto Ristorante with dinner curated by Chef Joaquin Estolano Jr. The reception begins at 6 p.m. with dinner to follow at 6:30. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 480-629-6231 and seats are $170 per person. After dinner guests will have the opportunity to purchase champagne at a discount.

Pint for a Penny at PHX Beer Co.

Buy gift card of $25 or more at the local brewer’s Phoenix taproom or Scottsdale restaurant and get a pint of beer for one cent while you wait. The deal is available until Christmas Eve and is only available on location and at time of purchase.

Source to open December 19th in Gilbert

Monday December 19th brings the opening of the new upscale fast fine dining Mediterranean concept. Founders Akshat Sethi, founder of Thai Chili 2 Go, and Chef Claudio Urciuoli, of Palaphx and Noble Bread fame, will offer fresh baked breads, sandwiches, salads, tapas and more. Natural wines will be offered with your dishes and in the retail market. Come January opening specials will be announced with more details to come.

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

The return of Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week in September

As plant-based diets get more popular diners are looking for more restaurants and food options when dining out. The return of Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week, September 11th-18th, people can get a chance to dine on special plant based meals at full service restaurants, food trucks, bakeries, meal delivery services and more.

Founders Jozh Watson (PHX Vegan) and Chef Jason Wyrick (The Vegan Taste) want to continue to bring awareness to plant-based diets get more popular diners are looking for more restaurants and food options to dine out at. “According to Watson, “Last year, Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week was so well received by the community. Every eatery that participated reported a significant increase in traffic during the event. This year promises to be even bigger and better.”

During the week-long event diners will be treated to plant based meals during breakfast, lunch and dinner at participating restaurants not normally found on their menu. Breakfast will be capped at $15, lunch will offer an appetizer, entree and drink for $20 and a three course dinner for no more than $30 with a 5 course meal no more than $44. Reservations are now being taken for the week at restaurants including Salvadoreno Restaurant (Phoenix and Mesa), Dilla Libre (Phoenix and Scottsdale), Early Bird Vegan, Freak Brothers Pizza and others.

A list of restaurants and menus can be found at their updated website as the list continues to grow. Non-vegan restaurants are encouraged to participate to showcase their plant based options. Menus are available for both dine-in and take-out. According to Wyrick, “Restaurants are realizing they need to appeal to a variety of food preferences. Veganism is a lifestyle choice that is here to stay, and we’re proud to show off the amazing culinary mark Phoenix is making.” Photo credit Debby Wolvos

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Miracle Mile Deli celebrates National Sandwich Month

Starting Monday August 1st the central Phoenix deli is serving up a weekly sandwich special for only $12. 8/1-8/6 – Corned Beef Sandwich 8/8-8/13 – Brisket Sandwich 8/15-8/20 – Combo (Pastrami & Corned Beef) 8/22-8/27 – The Straw. Each sandwich comes with a choice of sides and a dill pickle spear.

Phoenix City Grille offers exclusive Caymus Vineyards tasting event

Wednesday August 3rd join the vineyard’s Arizona Market Manager Stephanie Martindale for a tasting of five wines. Enjoy sipping on Emmolo Sparkling, Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay, Sea Sun Pinot Noir, The Walking Fool Red Blend and Bonanza Cabernet Sauvignon. Wines tasted during the event will be available for purchase with limited seating costing $25 ++ per person. Reservations can be made by contacting Britinee Reed at 602-510-7170 or privatedining@phoenixcitygrille.com

Hearth ’61 welcomes Chef Eugenia Theodosopoulos

The Chef and owner of Essence Bakery Cafe in Arcadia will be the guest chef at the restaurant’s Sunday Supper Club in August. The four-course dinner is set for August 14th at 6 p.m. and is paired with wine. Seats are $189++ per person and can be reserved here.

Sardinia’s food featured at Queen Creek Olive Mill’s dinner

The Italian region’s flavors and foods will be on prepared for August’s Tavalo dinner. Thursday August 18th from 6:30 -9:30 p.m. guests will dine on a 6-course’s with optional wine pairings. Much of the ingredients are locally sourced including from Golden Rule Dairy in Elfrida. Dinner is $124.99 per person and wine pairings are an additional $39.99. Reservations can be made here.

Caffe Vita opens tomorrow with FREE oat milk lattes.

The Seattle based coffee roaster opens its first Arizona location in the former Easley’s Fun Shop at 5th Ave. & McDowell Rd. Lattes will be available from 7 a.m. – 6p.m. Read more about the opening and more here.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

The Tipsy Egg brings an elevated brunch experience to Chandler

With the growth of restaurants and bars in downtown Chandler locals and visitors have few breakfast options to start their day. Local developer and owner Niels Kreipke wanted to change that so he took one of his properties on the corner of Arizona Ave. and Boston St. and opened the Tipsy Egg in early May. His experience as partner with other restaurant concepts around the valley gives him the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t and so far this concept exceeds his expectations.

Encompassing 3,000 square feet the modern decor and design is eye catching and features mid-century modern booths and brass finishes. “Tipsy Egg is bringing a wide range of all age groups and is a growing destination area for locals and out of town visitors,” said Kreipke. “We are excited to provide a unique and playful menu, a welcoming indoor/outdoor bar setting and a menu that is anything but typical for our guests to enjoy.” This food first and cocktail forward concept, hence the name, is the first of what will be others throughout the valley.

Photos courtesy of Evolve Public Relations & Marketing

Bold flavors at the Tipsy Egg

The menu offers guests breakfast and lunch all day including Mom’s Post Roast Benedict (go with the Party Potatoes on the side), Yuzu Masco Mint Pancakes, a Chinese Chicken Salad and an Uptown Burrito filled with filet mignon, eggs, roasted garlic, vegetables, Gouda cheese and more. The cocktail menu offers more than Mimosas and Bloody Marys for those looking for something other than coffee or juice in the morning. The BRKFT in Bed blends Sailor Jerry Rum, butterscotch schnapps, orange juice, lemon lime soda and an orange wheel. The Early Morin Margarita features Tepozan Añejo tequila, fresh lime juice, agave, pineapple juice, lemon lime soda, homemade tajin, a lime wheel and pineapple spear. Non-alcoholic mocktails are also on the list along with a selection of Bloody Marys and local craft beers.

The Tipsy Egg is 1 E. Boston St. Chandler and is open daily from 6:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and is available after hours for private parties and business meetings. For more information visit their website.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

 

Birdcall opening its first Arizona location in Scottsdale next month

The Denver-based fast casual restaurant Birdcall will be opening its first all-natural chicken restaurant in Scottsdale in April. Once opened in the former Jason’s Deli near the northeast corner of Scottsdale & Shea it will be the first of 10 planned locations in Phoenix. The company was founded in 2016 and the Scottsdale location will be the company’s ninth location.

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Peter Newlin said that the new Phoenix area locations align with the company’s growth strategy. “We’re trying to change the way that people look at fast food,” Newlin said. “We’ve incorporated cutting-edge technology to deliver delicious natural foods and beverages quickly, without sacrificing quality. Our customers appreciate the fact that they can either grab a meal to-go or dine in with family and friends in a casual, hip setting that conveniently works around their schedules and any time constraints.”

Once opened, Birdcall will serve lunch and dinner that will feature 100% all-natural chicken sandwiches, fresh salads, crispy tenders, gluten & dairy free chicken nuggets along with vegetarian options. Phoenix’s Noble Bakery will provide fresh buns and sauces will be made from scratch in-house using 100% all natural ingredients. Local beers from SanTan Brewing and Greenwood Brewing will be served as will organic teas & sodas and milkshakes.

A community minded Birdcall

Birdcall is very focused on the communities it enters and gives back at least 1% of sales to the community. “Community is the heart and soul of everything we do at Birdcall,” Newlin said. “We want to be measured by the impact we create, not the money we make, and that’s why our beneficiaries range from local street artists and musicians to schools and nonprofits.”

Inside will be spacious with a contemporary design and outside will be a mural inspired by Arizona and shaded tables on the dog-friendly patio. Technology will make ordering easy with kiosks for dine-in & take-out and a double lane drive-thru is available for those on the go. A second location at  SanTan Village is planned for Fall 2022 and a Phoenix location planned in early 2023. For more information and to view their menu visit their website.

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Beard Papa’s opens new location in Gilbert tomorrow

The Japanese build your own cream puff bakery with a cult like following is opening its newest location at SanTan Village Mall, Saturday February 26th. The Gilbert location is the 2nd in Arizona having opened in Scottsdale last year. The first 100 guests when they open at 10 a.m. will receive a surprise gift and BP will be collecting donations for Phoenix Children’s Hospital throughout the day.

Corazon Tequila Dinner at Spotted Donkey Cantina

Seats are available for authentic Mexican cuisine paired with the world class tequila for 4-courses on Friday, March 11th. Fresh ingredients will be used for dishes including Octopus Ceviche, Wagyu Beef Short Rib Mole and more. Seats are $98 per person and can be reserved by calling 480-488-3358 or online here.

Food Truck Friday West hosts more than 10-20 food trucks

Tonight and every Friday from 5 – 9p.m. foodies can try new & favorite foods from the valley’s food truck community. Momma’s Organic Market hosts the weekly event at Desert Financial Credit Union 17445 N. 79th Ave. in Glendale.

Grand Canyon Brewing + Distillery open Page brewpub

Almost a year ago the Williams based brewery & distillery announced their 3rd location in the state would be on the banks of Lake Powell. It’s now open with a full menu of craft beers, spirited cocktails and scratch made food. Over 20 TVs and an indoor & outdoor seating are features that will also attract visitors to Horseshoe Bend location that used to be a firehouse.

Cajun festival tomorrow in Chandler

The great weather here in Arizona brings out spicy Cajun cooking, live music and more as Mardi Gras approaches. Tomorrow’s festival in downtown Chandler starts at 2 p.m. For more information and how to get tickets see my featured post.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

 

Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week launches mid-September

Two of the valley’s vegan advocates have come together to launch the first Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week September 12th- 18th. Chef & author Jason Wyrick and vegan taste maker and owner of Phoenix Vegan Jozh Watson launched the week long culinary event to bring more attention to plant- based restaurants, foods & cooking.

According to Wyrick, “Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week is a celebration of plant-based cuisine in Phoenix. We want to raise awareness about everything vegan that’s now available in our city, get everyone excited, and out-and-about trying all of the great dining options.”

Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week
Simon’s Hot Dogs. Feature photo Maya’s Cajun Cuisine’s Po’ Boy

How Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week works?

The pair are encouraging restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, food trucks and others to showcase their plant-based cooking and more. During the week participants will be offering a specially created menu with breakfast & lunch offering at $20 and a 3-course dinner menu at $30.

“We want to position Greater Metro Phoenix as a premier, inclusive dining destination,” said Watson.

During the week diners can experience the growing Phoenix plant-based food scene visiting new establishments or returning to familiar ones. A a few of the participating eateries include: Beaut Burger, Brunch & Sip, Chilte, Dilla Libre, Early Bird Vegan, Earth Plant-Based, Giving Tree Café, Ground Control, Hot Sauce & Pepper, Maya’s Cajun Kitchen, Pachamama, Positively Frosted, Salvadoreno Restaurant, Shameless Burger, Simon’s Hot Dogs, The Nile Coffee Shop, Urban Beans Café, Tesoro Vegano, The Vegan Taste, Verdura, and Wok this Way.

According to Wyrick, “Restaurants are experimenting more with vegan cuisine and showcasing some really great offerings. Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week allows them to cater to a growing clientele and test the waters for expanding their vegan selections.” For more information and to see additional participants head to their website.

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