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Sugar & Co. sweet on fresh-baked offerings, menu changes

Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Sugar & Co. owner Raida Khalil holds a custom cake in her Ross shop Tuesday, September 12, 2012.

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Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:02 p.m.
 

Location is everything, some real estate professionals insist, but Raida Khalil hopes quality, freshness and variety can be more important.

She is the owner of Sugar & Co., a bakery-coffee shop-lunch stop in Ross, and is among the first to admit the location of her shop has drawbacks.

“I'm just hoping customers are impressed with what we have, and the location registers,” the Greenfield baker says.

Sugar & Co. is along McKnight Road next to an auto-lube outlet and across the highway from the north end of the McKnight Village strip mall.

The problem is the shop faces north. Heading toward Pittsburgh, a driver has to make a U-turn to get to it at a busy intersection. Heading north, a driver can miss it entirely because most of the signage faces the other way.

She is working to provide enough reasons for the location to become a matter of memory rather than sight.

The shop might do that. It is filled with the sweet stuff its name implies. It features cookies the size of wheels from small cars — well, almost — for $1.50, richly stuffed cannolis for $3 and a variety of other baked items, from cinnamon rolls to muffins.

But, be ready to make an on-spot decision rather than building one ahead of time. Everything is made fresh, at the shop, and the menu changes daily. But most baked goods cost from $1.50 to $2.50 per item, so you can at least plan your budget.

Khalil is most proud of the cake-sculpting side of her business. That side of work takes her baking into a more costly and artistic end.

“I'm willing to do anything,” she says. “I really look forward to something that is a challenge. I end up doing books and briefcases quite a bit. I've even done XBox controllers.”

Because such projects are generally for events and entail a lot of slices, the price for sculpted cakes can add up. For instance, at $2 per decorated slice, a cake big enough for 100 guests is $200.

Sometimes, though, the artistic cost can go up — and so can the total.

“But, when push comes to shove,” she says, “I'm always willing to help with costs — especially if it's a project I really want to do.”

But the shop has other sides, as well. There are several tables that turn the bakery into part-coffee shop, with the daily brew at $1.75 and $2.25, latte at $2.50 and $3, and specialties such as basque mocha at $2.75 and $3.50.

It also has individual-size pizzas at $3.50. They are made without tomato sauce, baked on dough made at the shop, and ready for quick heating in the oven.

“And, you need oven-heat,” she advises. “Microwaving doesn't work.”

She also is moving into specialty sandwiches such as the Philly turnover, which is roast beef, tomatoes and mushrooms in a calzone-like crust.

“It's $4.50, but it's an awful lot of meat,” she says.

Sugar & Co. is a 4846 McKnight Road, Ross. It is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Details: 412-837-1919

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bkarlovits@tribweb.com or 412-320-7852.

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