Mixing things up with real ingredients and real passion
Cambridge’s Sugar Daddies Bakery recipe for success
Going on a special diet like keto can often mean giving up your favourite foods. For Greg, that meant trips to the bakery to pick up ‘the bad stuff’ was no longer on the table. That’s when his husband, David, started adapting beloved treat recipes to be sugar-free and gluten-free. Soon, friends and family were asking for the recipes so David started making them treats too. As their popularity grew, so did their ambition. That’s how Sugar Daddies Bakery came to be. What started out as a craft market table has expanded to two retail locations and over a dozen wholesale partners in just a few years. Co-owner Greg sat down to discuss how they turned a little sweet tooth into a big business opportunity.
Rogers Business: Tell us a little bit about Sugar Daddies and what makes it unique.
Greg: At Sugar Daddies, we take popular bakery treats and ‘keto-fy’ them. What we mean by that, in the strictest sense, is gluten-free and sugar-free. That turns into a very clean ingredient list that is not usually seen in keto products. Those clean ingredients are what makes us different. Another thing that makes us unique is our relationship with our customers. They’re what got us to where we are today. What keeps us going is when a customer walks through the door and is still able to enjoy treats despite dietary restrictions, despite having recently found out they’re diabetic or they have celiac or they’ve just gone through a weight loss journey.
Rogers Business: Where did the idea for your small business begin?
Greg: When David started making these sugar-free and gluten-free treats, we just kept getting busier and busier making them for friends. That’s when we thought maybe we were onto something. So we had a logo created and booked a table at a craft show for $65. We were all set up and ready to go with 300 cheesecakes when the organizer of the event told us to go see what was happening outside. There was a lineup around the building and she explained this had never happened before; they were there for our treats. We sold out within a couple of hours. With David’s creative mind and my business sense, we were able to turn this into a much bigger hobby.
At the beginning, we were selling our goods online and meeting people in various parking lots around Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo to give them their treats. We started by renting a kitchen by the hour, then by the day. Eventually, it made the most sense for us to get our own place and open up our own bakery and storefront.
Rogers Business: What does your business look like today?
Greg: Right before COVID hit, we had just entered into a lease for our new building and that’s where we are now. We’ve got expanded production facilities and added in more freezer space. That’s where Sugar Daddies Bakery turned into the much larger business that it is today. We supply FarmBoy, Sobeys across Canada, various other independent retailers and we still have our delivery service. Rogers gave us the technology solutions that we needed. As we were expanding very very quickly, there were certain things we needed in order to be able to satisfy our wholesale customers. One of those things was temperature control during the delivery process. Rogers’ Fleet Complete solution not only tracks the location of our vehicles but logs the temperature controls in the back of the truck and monitors the diagnostics on each of the vehicles. It gave us the automation we needed to scale very quickly.
Rogers Business: What made you choose your current location(s)?
Greg: Cambridge is where I grew up. It was important to me and David that if we were going to be living in Cambridge, that we wanted to have a business here as well. The downtown core had been through some tough times and it was in the process of being revitalized. It was important to us that our business gives back to the community and be part of that rebuild. We also do a lot of fundraising activities for different mental health charities.
Our vision is to be a destination for people. Not just a bakery but also a place where people can go out for dinner and get sugar-free and gluten-free products–everything from the cocktails to the meals to the desserts. Right now we have our ‘Vibe Lounge’ on Thursday and Friday evenings. We play music, dim the lights, and serve burgers, tacos, pizza and cocktails–all gluten-free, sugar-free, and keto-friendly. Everything we’re serving in the restaurant, we know exactly where it’s from and what’s gone into it. In October, we’re expanding this with a DJ and we’ll be open until 1am so people can also come and dance.
Rogers Business: What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a small business owner?
Greg: You need to make sure that when you have an idea to do something, you just do it. You’re going to get feedback from a lot of different people that don’t have the same spirit or motivation that you have. It’s very easy to step back from wanting to do something because someone’s told you a scary story. If you wait until everything is perfect, you’re never going to be where you want.
Rogers Business: Who or what was your biggest source of support when you started?
Greg: Our parents. David grew up in the Philippines. He’s a fabulous cook and always wanted to have his own restaurant but didn’t have the opportunity to do that in the Philippines. This has given him the chance to have his vision and his family has been very, very supportive. And my parents have been able to help us in a different way. As we were expanding into new markets, they actually did deliveries and drove to Ottawa and back every week. Not many people would be willing to do that.
Rogers Business: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a small business owner?
Greg: Access to capital was a challenge. David and I were able to supply a lot of the capital ourselves, but when we needed our new production facility we couldn’t do all of it on our own. The challenge was having conversations with the bank for a very new business and being able to articulate the financial side of the business.
Rogers Business: What is the greatest reward you’ve gotten as a small business owner?
Greg: The greatest reward has to be customers crying at the front counter when they’re telling their own story and they realize I’m one of the owners. They might have seen me on our social channels and Facebook Lives, but now they get to see that I’m a real person and they get to tell me about how we’ve helped get them through diabetes or reverse some of their medications. That, to us, is the reason why we do this. It’s nice to see that.
Rogers Business: What other strategies have helped you find success?
Greg: It’s important to have a good relationship with your employees, show you value them, and give them insight into why you make decisions the way that you do. They’re impacted by the decisions but they may not understand why you make them. We try to explain why we’re making a decision. That helps with the buy-in and makes them like they’re part of the entire journey of the company. One of our employees started with us as a dishwasher and did a great job. She consistently asked if she could work on the front counter and now she’s our full-time Customer Service Rep at our Cambridge store. That’s exactly why it’s important to keep in touch with your employees.
Rogers Business: What advice would you give to someone else looking to get started?
Greg: Document your vision. It doesn’t have to be a 30 page document. Scratch out where you are and where you want to be. The very first drawing that I did was on the back of an envelope and still to this day I refer to that. You gotta enjoy the journey along the way and remembering why you started helps solidify your energy for what’s ahead.
Where can we find your business online?
Facebook: Sugar Daddies Bakery