Skip to main content

Cabarrus Magazine

'Up Front' Searches for the Best Desserts in Cabarrus County in Episode 34

Nov 13, 2019 03:52PM ● By Kevin

Episode 33: Who Has the best Desserts in Cab Co?

Huddle: (00:00)
Welcome to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Events. Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, CERTEC Automotive, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie's Salon and Your CBD Store of Concord. I'm your host, Jason Huddle

Huddle: (00:24)
Welcome once again to a very tasty addition of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. If you caught, the November issue of Cabarrus Magazine, you've noticed that our theme this month is just desserts and that's exactly what we were talking about. We've got some great things in the magazine, all about desserts and I thought why not ask the public who has the best desserts in Cabarrus County? That's a tough one because there are lots of honorable mentions for sure, but there are a couple of places that kept coming up when we were talking about it on Facebook and when we were asking people just when I was out and about and I would ask people, Hey, what's your favorite desserts or who has the best desserts in Cabarrus County? There are a couple places that came up in conversation time and time again. One is a place called the sweet life, which is located in downtown Concord and this is a sweet bakery. They have cupcakes, they have cakes, they have all kinds of interesting desserts, uh, for all occasions. And then there is the staple of Cabarrus County, a favorite since 1923 and it is also in downtown Concord. And if you haven't guessed it yet, I'll let you know. It's Cabarrus Creamery. These two places, uh, tended to come up. They were on the tip of people's tongues and so we thought it'd be kinda cool to go and visit these places and see if we could get some free dessert out of it - No, I'm just kidding - see if we could have some conversations with them about their businesses and what they offer and why they tend to be such a favorite in the County. So we're going to be visiting with some lovely ladies from those businesses here in just a few minutes. But before we get to that, it is this week's shameless plug time.

Huddle: (02:07)
I know it's been two weeks since our last episode and we certainly appreciate you guys being patient with us and we hope you enjoyed our ghost host a couple of weeks ago. But with the new month comes a new sponsor. We are very excited. If you noticed at the beginning of the program I announced Cabarrus Eye Center as one of our sponsors and they are. They are a new sponsor as of today and we are excited to have them on board. They provide cataract surgery, they provide laser surgery, so - and they are the only place in Cabarrus County that is exclusively dedicated to eye surgery. So if you have some surgery needs for your eyes, please make sure you give them a call and find out if they might be able to help you. And they are a great staff over there. We certainly appreciate their support, so we encourage you to support them. And of course if you go see them, make sure that they know you heard about them on Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. A little quid pro quo. Oh sorry, that's a bad word these days. Anyway, I digress. That is this week's shameless plug time.

Huddle: (03:13)
Make sure you listen to the entire program because at the end I'm going to announce a new contest where you can win a very special prize for you and your family coming up for this holiday season. So make sure you stay tuned. When we come back. We will be on location at the Sweet Life to talk with Lori Rice, owner of that awesome bakery, in just a moment. So stick around. Enjoy this brand new spot from Cabarrus Eye Center.

Commercials: (03:41)


Huddle: (04:39)
Welcome back to this episode of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. We're talking about one of my favorite subjects in the world, desserts, as we are in the printed edition of Cabarrus Magazine this month, and I'm sitting here with Lori Rice. She is the owner of the Sweet Life located on Cabarrus Avenue in Concord. First of all, Lori, thank you so much for taking out time out of your day.

Rice: (05:52)
Absolutely. Thank you for coming in.

Huddle: (05:54)
So Lori, let's talk. We were - when I called you, I told you that we have been polling our readers, our podcast listeners, and asking them, who has the best desserts in Cabarrus County and the Sweet Life kept coming up with people I talked to and Facebook polling. So I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to come to the source and find out what is so great about the Sweet Life, and what are some of your biggest sellers. But first of all, tell us about the Sweet Life. How long have you guys been around? Tell us a little bit about it.

Rice: (06:30)
Sure. Um, we, um, opened our first bakery in 2012 in October of 2012. Actually we started out in a small house, um, on Church Street and, um, moved downtown, partnered with Two Gals Kitchen for a few years and decided that both of our businesses had grown. We needed a little bit larger space. And so here we are, we found this great space behind, um, the old bank building on Union. Um, and we absolutely love it and we, um, are primarily a sweet bakery. In other words, we don't do breads or, um, anything of that nature. We do a lot of cupcakes, pound cakes. My grandmother always had a pound cake sitting in her kitchen, um, growing up and, um, I've got fussed at many, many times for eating the crunchy part of said pound cakes. Um, so that kind of developed my love of sweets. But we offer a variety of cupcakes. Um, cold sweets such as our lemon bars. Our brownies are a huge seller. Um, right now pumpkin bars, we cannot make them fast enough.

Huddle: (07:35)
Anything pumpkin, right?

Rice: (07:36)
Anything pumpkin right now is wonderful. Um, but, but you know, really we're, we're, we're kind of Southern based bakery. We like all of the old traditional -

Huddle: (07:44)
So, full butter. Full cream.

Rice: (07:46)
Yeah, absolutely.

Huddle: (07:49)
So what are some of the - you said pumpkin bars, you can't make enough?

Rice: (07:53)
Right. Pumpkin bars right now are probably our top seller. Our brownies people usually go crazy for our brownies and we probably have four or five varieties of brownies. Anything from just your plain standard, good old fashioned brownie. We do some that have an Oreo and chocolate chip cookie base. We do some with a cream cheese. If we can put it in brownie batter, we've probably tried it. Um, yeah. So we, you know, we like to listen to our customers and take recommendations from, from them and some things on our menu. Um, have actually turned out to be, you know, wonderful sellers that people have suggested to us that were great treats from their childhood. Um, for instance, we had, um, a sweet lady over the summer that said her mother made a pudding for them that was much like banana pudding. Only instead of bananas, we put strawberries in there. So -

Huddle: (08:41)
I've never heard of strawberry pudding, unless it was, it was like the, the Jello,

Rice: (08:45)
Right, right. This was great. Just so picture banana pudding, except for bananas. It has strawberries in it. So it was wonderful. It was a great seller. Meredith, who is like - she's, she's got my hustle in the kitchen. She does a great job with all our, a lot of our banking and goodies and she helps me out tremendously. We made a lot of strawberry pudding over the summer. So we have a lot of things that are very seasonal. But cupcakes are a wonderful last minute treat for somebody looking for something for dinner or a birthday maybe you've forgotten, or treat for a coworker.

Huddle: (09:17)
So you have some seasonal offerings. Are there some staples that you offer year round?

Rice: (09:22)
The cupcakes are year round. Brown is are here around lemon bars are year round. We started making a French macaroons probably about two years ago.

Huddle: (09:30)
That's a tough thing. Macaroons are very tough to make.

Rice: (09:32)
They can be. They require a lot of patience. They can be a little temperamental, depending on the weather and the temperature. Um, ours are not always the prettiest but they are very tasty. I think that's kind of what counts. But um, but yeah, we, we and we have seasonal flavors of those and we have standard flavors that everybody loves. So we usually have those year round as well.

Huddle: (09:54)
That sounds phenomenal. Now, we actually featured you guys in the magazine.

Rice: (09:58)
Yes.

Huddle: (09:59)
In April. And you guys also do a lot of wedding - when we were talking about weddings in April. So you guys do a lot of wedding businesses as well.

Rice: (10:05)
We absolutely do. Do we do anything from wedding cakes to cake and cupcake combinations. We do a lot of dessert buffets. That seems to be a big trend right now. People are just very nostalgic and they want to offer their guests something that maybe reminds them a little, a little bit of their younger days, or something that's a little regional or maybe closer to home and just the, you know, a little something for everyone's palette. So that, that tends to be the, the bulk of what we do.

Huddle: (10:30)
So coming into the holidays, uh, what are you guys going to be making a lot of besides pumpkin bars, obviously?

Rice: (10:36)
Sugar cookies.

Huddle: (10:37)
Really?

Rice: (10:37)
We do a decorated sugar cookie, um, usually around the holidays. Then we do a lot for special orders and that tends to be a tremendous seller. Um, we probably produced around 1200 cookies just in the month of December last year and I'm anticipating even more this year since word has gotten out.

Huddle: (10:55)
So just straight up sugar cookies, or, like, snikerdoodles?

Rice: (10:55)
Decorated sugar cookies are probably our top seller during the month of November and December. We do offer a lot of cakes and pies and we have a long list of flavors on our website, on our menu that folks choose from. Tend to get a lot of corporate orders. We have a couple of lawyers offices in town that really liked to load us up with cake orders around the holidays, which is nice. And then we have some other businesses in Cabarrus County that like to offer gift boxes for some of their referring offices and, and, and clients. And it tends to be just a really nice holiday treat. So, we definitely stay busy from usually around mid October until December 31st.

Huddle: (11:35)
So let me ask you, because next week we're going to be talking about surviving Thanksgiving.

Rice: (11:40)
Yes.

Huddle: (11:40)
So, is it too late to get a Thanksgiving dessert order in?

Rice: (11:44)
Absolutely not. Um, you know, Thanksgiving is November 28th. We'll probably take orders up until the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Um, it's a busy time of year, so we do anticipate a lot of calls and a lot of walk ins. So we try to be prepared. So probably the Tuesday before Thanksgiving,

Huddle: (12:03)
Top Thanksgiving order is?

Rice: (12:04)
Pumpkin pie.

Huddle: (12:07)
Of course! It's not Thanksgiving until you've had pumpkin pie.

Rice: (12:08)
Right. Pecan is a very close second. But pumpkin pie by far. We actually saw a lot of key lime pie, as well - year round.

Huddle: (12:16)
I thought that's more of a summer pie.

Rice: (12:18)
I can eat it year around.

Huddle: (12:21)
My wife can too. I love it , but -

Rice: (12:21)
Yeah, it's typically like a summertime dessert, but we have a handful of customers who will call me up December, January, February for special occasions. And they're like, you know what, I want. It's key lime pie.

Huddle: (12:31)
So what about Christmas? Same thing?

Rice: (12:35)
Um, Christmas, probably more than cookies, probably more cakes. Probably more like red velvet. We do a great white chocolate raspberry chocolate cake. Vanilla for Christmas. They go more for the decoration versus the flavor. So a lot of holiday parties. We're doing, like some nice Christmas themed cakes that are custom decorated. Um, more the cookies, not so much the pies. The pies are usually more Thanksgiving. Yeah.

Huddle: (13:04)
Interesting. How about that? Lori Rice with the Sweet Life. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Rice: (13:08)
Jason. It was nice talking with you.

Huddle: (13:10)
Alright. And where can people find you? Not only physically, but online?

Rice: (13:13)
Right? We're at 11 Cabarrus Avenue East, um, in downtown Concord. We're right around the corner from the Concord Hotel. Uh, we also have a website. It's at the sweetlifeconcord.com and you can find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Huddle: (13:30)
All right. Make sure you check them out. And uh, if you're in a pinch, they can help you out with your Thanksgiving dessert needs and whatever else that you might need. Thank you very much, Lori. You guys, stay tuned. We'll be back right after this.

Commercials: (13:44)


Huddle: (14:58)
Welcome back to our very sweet edition of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. I am joined now by Beth Huss. She is co-owner, along with her husband, Hunter, of the Cabarrus Creamery. Um, I was telling you before we turned the Mic on that through our very unscientific polling, uh, through social media, uh, that the Cabarrus Creamery kept coming up as the place to get the best dessert in Cabarrus County. I guess some things just never change. You know, people can go through trends with cupcakes and sweets and things like that, but ice cream is just a staple of Americana, right?

Huss: (16:08)
Yeah. And we appreciate that!

Huddle: (16:11)
So, um, Beth, first of all, thank you so much for joining us on your podcast. And why don't you tell us a little bit about the Creamery. Now, you guys aren't the original owners. Uh, the original owners founded the Creamery back in the 20's I think.

Huss: (16:25)
Right. 1923. Um, they started, the Creamery. It Was actually down on South Union, across from where St. James Lutheran Church is now. Very small dairy, I think it was beside the old post office. Um, they started out with all your, the dairy products and um, then they moved to church street where they had a really big building and during the war they started making um, dry powdered milk and they were just throwing the fat away from that and we're trying to decide, God, you know, we're throwing all this fat away, what can we do with it? And that's when they decided to start making ice cream.

Huddle: (17:08)
Now. So for those of you who are new to the area or haven't been here very long, uh, the - what they call the Creamery building on Church Street, that was where the, the Cabarrus Creamery was for many years that, when I was growing up, that's where it was. The line was always out the door. Uh, whether it was summer or winter, it didn't matter. Line was always out the door. And then about, was it 10 years ago? How long ago did you guys -

Huss: (17:34)
'98 was the year that my husband and I moved back here. I grew up here, we moved back here in '98. And the Burrage sold the Creamery that year, I believe, to a man out of Florida.

Huddle: (17:49)
Okay.

Huss: (17:49)
And at that moment, he decided to redo the old building and actually put tables and chairs in it, which there had never been a place to sit in the old building.

Huddle: (18:00)
Right.

Huss: (18:01)
Um, and everybody was so excited and I'm not even sure if it actually ever opened. But the next thing I knew, I think he filed bankruptcy, closed it down. And that was it.

Huddle: (18:15)
And that was it. So it just - there was no Cabarrus Creamery for about a decade or so.

Huss: (18:21)
Right. I think it was about, that was '98, so it was a few years. Um, my husband was in rotary with Robert Burrage, uh, the son and, um, was talking. And one day he came home and said, what do you think about opening up the Creamery? I don't think I was that excited about it, but, um, somehow we actually decided to do that. Um, we moved it to Union Street where it is now and we opened in 2003 and Robert Burrage actually helped us, um, you know, told us what to do, really helped us get started. And um, the rest is history.

Huddle: (19:07)
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the secret of the success, the sustained success of Cabarrus Creamery is the fact that you guys kept the original recipes.

Huss: (19:16)
Yes, we have the original recipes. We do not make it all here. A lot of people are really confused about that really big building to this really small space. Sure. But they didn't need a big space to make ice cream. It doesn't take a lot of space to make ice cream. We do outsource the manufacturing, most of it now, but so did the old Creamery by the time they sold it, um, it's very hard to find someone to come in and do manufacturing for you. So the company that we outsource to, um, which is also the company, the old creamery used, um, they have our recipes and we place orders with them in the summertime. We'll say we need this much in the winter time. It's normally like every other week because things slow down, but they make most of it. We still make some of it here. Um, my husband likes to keep the handle on the moon pie. He doesn't think they do that very well. It took years for us to teach them how to make the sliced lemon, which is one of the ice creams that we're really known for. So, um, you know, we kinda keep an eye on how they do things and just make sure that everything's up to our standards.

Huddle: (20:34)
Very good. Now how many gallons of ice cream will you guys go through in during the summer?

Huss: (20:39)
I'd say probably about 1200 a month.

Huddle: (20:42)
Wow.

Huss: (20:42)
Now that's an estimate. So I'm guessing.

Huddle: (20:48)
that sounds about right. I mean, in the summer, sure.

Huss: (20:50)
Which probably goes to about 3 or 400 during the winter.

Huddle: (20:54)
Now it sounds a little bit weird to be talking about ice cream in November, especially on a day like today, it's windy outside. It's a little bit chilly. Does - How much does the weather detur you're - I mean obviously you're gonna sell more ice cream in the summer, no doubt, but how much does that deter your, your clientele?

Huss: (21:11)
Well, it kind of depends. Our busiest months are March, April, May, June, July and August. Um, once kids go back to school, you know, people have other things going on. Um, of course we're busy for the Christmas tree lighting. We're busy for the Christmas parade, but we still sell ice cream in the winter time. Rain is the biggest thing that people do not come out in the rain to buy ice cream. Even if it's in the summertime, we will not be busy. If it's raining.

Huddle: (21:46)
Well then now you know, if it's ever raining, even if it's the summer, if it's ever raining, you know, you can get right up in to Cabarrus Creamery's front of the line. Right. So let's talk about your flavors. Do you have seasonal flavors? And then, if so, what are some seasonal flavors that you're offering right now?

Huss: (22:04)
We do. In the summertime we have cherry garden, which is a huge flavor that we didn't make for years when we first bought it. That um -

Huddle: (22:16)
Now, cherry garden. How's that different from, like, black cherry?

Huss: (22:19)
Well, it's cherry but it also has coconut and pineapple in it. Um, it seems to be a favorite of a lot of locals. We carry that in the summertime. We also carry peach in the summertime. Um, our sliced lemon again is just really what we're known for. And when we first opened, we would only carry it in the summertime. But um, a lot of customers really got upset, so we try to keep that all year. We also have pumpkin this time of season for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and Christmas, we'll have peppermint and eggnog. We try to keep a low sugar, no sugar added ice cream, at least one flavor all the time. And we keep a nondairy sorbet. We try to keep one of those in stock all the time also.

Huddle: (23:12)
Very good. Now, what is your top seller? Year-round.

Huss: (23:16)
Chocolate and vanilla.

Huddle: (23:17)
Really?

Huss: (23:18)
Yeah. Isn't that crazy?

Huddle: (23:18)
At the end of the day, everybody's really simple.

Huss: (23:21)
Chocolate and vanilla. And then we probably go to chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter cop, mint chocolate chip, um, butter pecan. Um, probably that, but yeah, chocolate, vanilla are always the biggest sellers.

Huddle: (23:42)
I think that's incredibly interesting. I think you could almost do social experiment with ice cream in figuring out what people -.

Huss: (23:49)
It's really interesting. You know, when we have some flavors that aren't at all popular, like rum raisin, which is not anything that I would ever order, but it happens to be my husband's favorite, so we keep it in stock. Um, but yeah, and you know, there are a few people that get that, so it's, um, people just have, it's funny, people will come in and they either get the exact same thing every time they come in or then you have the person that's completely opposite and wants to try something new every time they come in.

Huddle: (24:25)
See, every time I come in, I think to myself, I want to try something new, but I never do. I always go to the peanut butter cup.

Huss: (24:33)
See, I kind of do that also. I mean I've probably tasted most things except the rum raisin, but, um, I kind of stick with the, uh, cookies and cream and the peanut butter cup. That's my thing.

Huddle: (24:48)
Well, Beth Huss, I appreciate you spending some time with us today. Tell us again where the store is located and then how people can find you online.

Huss: (24:57)
Uh, we are at cabarruscreamery.com and we are also on 21 Union Street in downtown Concord. Um, sometimes it's hard to find a park, but there's parking in the back lot behind the Creamery also. And we're open every day from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM in the winter time during the week, but we're also open on the weekends till 9.

Huddle: (25:22)
Next week we're going to be talking about surviving Thanksgiving. So another idea for you guys is, you're tired of spending the whole day in the house with the whole family. Bring them out to the Cabarrus Creamery, get everybody some ice cream and have a grand old time. Beth Huss, thank you so much for spending some time with us.

Huss: (25:40)
Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Huddle: (25:42)
You guys stick around. We'll be back right after these messages from our sponsors.

Commercials: (25:46)


Huddle: (27:39)
Once again, I want to thank our guests today, Lori Rice and Beth Huss from the Sweet life and Cabarrus Creamery. They were awesome sports and uh, we certainly appreciate them taking their time out of their very busy days. Beth had told me that she was actually on her way to meet her new grandchild, so congratulations to her. And Lori, of course, is in the middle of the holiday season. She's getting orders left and right for Thanksgiving pies and cakes and whatnot. So she was pretty busy herself. So we certainly appreciate them taking time. As promised, I said at the beginning of the program that we would be announcing a new contest. Um, next week we're going to be talking about surviving Thanksgiving. I kind of love that theme because it kind of sums up, doesn't it? Uh, the feelings sometimes we have, we love having our family around, but at the same time it can get a little bit, uh, cramped sometimes, you know, having everybody around all the time in your house. And so there are some things that we're going to suggest for you to do. One of those things. We're actually going to go out to Charlotte Motor Speedway and talk to them about the holiday lights. This is their 10th year. So we're going to be talking with them a little bit about that. And they have been kind enough to provide tickets to the holiday lights for us to give away. So I am looking for people to interact with us on our Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine podcast page and share the different podcasts. Now that is the key. You have to share an episode of a podcast. It doesn't have to be this one. It can be any podcast you wish, whichever ones just float your boat, make sure that you tag us so that we know that you shared it. And um, if you share an episode of the podcast, we will enter you into a drawing to win a free ticket to the holiday lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway.So make sure that you do that this week and we'll be giving those away one a week for the next several weeks. So make sure you do that. And you can be going to see the holiday lights for free. Lots of great stuff. We'll be talking about that next week as well. Hey, I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, and of course, I want to thank our sponsors,Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Events. Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, our new sponsor, CERTEC Automotive, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie's Salon and Your CBD Store of Concord. As always, please remember to support those that support us. I've been your host, Jason huddle. Until next week. Stay sweet, y'all.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Cabarrus Magazine's free newsletter to catch every headline