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Conversations with Chris Pelak

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Pelak.

Hi Chris, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I’ve wanted to work for a vegan company for a long time. I was working for a great non-profit in Detroit called the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, and as much as I enjoyed it there, something inside was pushing me to do something more with my life that involved veganism and ending the exploitation of animals.

So I started down this road and there were a lot of bumps along the way. We signed our lease a month before COVID hit and in big part because of that it took just over a year for us to open. I was too invested to give up on this dream of bringing delicious vegan treats to the Metro Detroit Area.

I changed a few things along that way during that year, found LaDawn Stuben, our Pastry Wizard, and we took off. We opened on February 1st, 2021. Two weeks later, we did our first Packzi day, selling 582 Paczkis in one day!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Signing the lease right before Covid was unfortunate. It looks months to get a contractor to start building. Our landlord gave us a little break on rent for a couple of months, but we still had to pay many months of rent for a building we couldn’t use.

My original business partner and I ended our business relationship right after the building was done being built, and I was stuck without a baker and what was her original concept. So I met that challenge head-on, changed the focus of the vegan bakery options we’d have, chose a new name, and started SugarBuzz. It was truly serendipitous that I found LaDawn Stuben to be our Head Pastry Chef, but we prefer to call her our Pastry Wizard.

At that time, she had been baking professionally for 17 years in Arizona and just moved to Michigan as I began looking for a manager. Her ideas and concepts absolutely blew me away and have been the basis for everything you see at SugarBuzz today.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
The team here at SugarBuzz are magicians with their craft. We specialize in a variety of baked goods that taste wonderful. We’re known for our Oatmeal Cream Pies, Michigander Bars (think Twix Bar with cherries), Faygo Redpop Velvet Cake, Chocolate Death Ray Cake, and Cinnamon Rolls.

What I’m most proud of is the team’s willingness to take on any challenge. Earlier in the year, a customer wanted a giant Boston Cream donut, and they figured it out. We’re currently are working on a wedding where the bride and groom wanted a giant Oatmeal Cream Pie in lieu of a cake, and then 200 mini oatmeal cream pies for guests.

While we have our core list of items we offer, what sets us apart is always thinking outside of the box to offer unique seasonal items that everyone loves!

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
We know the idea of a ‘vegan’ dessert can seem daunting to non-vegans out there. But we pride ourselves in creating treats that would trick even the biggest skeptic. In fact, we have many non-vegan customers who come in for that one item they fell in love with, which is often our Oatmeal Cream Pies.

Vegan desserts are delicious! We’d love to prove it to you all!

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