By Jason Wesseldyk
Brandy Williams has felt at home in the kitchen from the time she was a child.
“I got started when I was probably about eight years old,” Williams said. “My sisters and I started creating a lot of concoctions and experiments. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Williams’ passion for creating tasty treats led her to open The Sugar Palace, which held its grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, April 1.
Located at 133 E. Bridge St. in downtown Plainwell, The Sugar Palace currently offers a variety of baked good that include gluten-free, vegan and even diabetic-friendly options.
“We also accommodate food allergies,” Williams said. “We will be a full-service cafe within the next six months to a year, and we will continue to grow our knowledge of the community to better meet the demands of our customer base.
“Having the experience I do in this industry, I know that customer service is of the utmost importance in running a food business. After all, without the customers, we don’t exist.”
Williams’ experience in the food industry includes running a baking business out of her home for the past 11 years. But a “substantial” growth in her customer base during that time prompted her to find an actual building dedicated to the business.
“My orders were becoming too much for my kitchen at home, even with the massive kitchen I have,” Williams said. “So this is the next step in my baking journey and I’m so excited about it.”
The name of the business is a nod to The Sugar Factory in Chicago.
“My husband and I were talking about bringing a little of the style of The Sugar Factory to Plainwell and he came up with The Sugar Palace,” Williams said. “I loved the sound of it, so we ran with it and here we are.”
Many other business owners in downtown Plainwell have done their part to help Williams feel welcome. That includes the owners of Passiflora, Bridge Street Deli, Hart’s Jewelers and Plainwell Flowers.
“I love the locals, the traditions and the small shops with great owners,” Williams said. “My family and I frequent the shops downtown, and we are always welcomed with warm smiles.
“That’s what I wanted for my own business, to make people feel welcome and at home in this town.”
Williams has worked in the food industry since she was 14 years old and went on to serve in such roles as cook, waitress, bartender, manager, supervisor and event organizer.
“I even did the dishes sometimes,” Williams said.
The fact that Williams was drawn to the food industry came as no surprise.
“I fell in love with the restaurant industry very young,” she said. “My sisters and I played restaurant almost daily when I was small. It brings me such great memories every time I bake or cook.”
Williams branched out to baking cakes for one of her big sister’s wedding. And although Williams described the cake as “ugly, with lots of blue and white and ‘70s-style tip décor,” her sister was happy with it.
Since that first attempt at a wedding cake, Williams has spent years perfecting her craft. And continues to learn more each day and is eager to share her creations with her customers.
“I can offer things no one else around here can,” she said. “I come from upstate New York. Most of the recipes I bring are learned from family on the east coast, and all of my recipes are my own. For 11 years I have worked hard to create my own recipes or to take family recipes that were passed down and give my own flair to them.
“And don’t be afraid to ask me if I can make something. Over the years, I’ve learned I can make anything if I put my mind to it. Once it’s been requested, I find that I can’t let it go. I must investigate, break down the food science and find a way to make it possible.”
For more information about The Sugar Palace, visit https://www.facebook.com/brandiescakescandies or call (269) 532-9978.