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Sugar Daddy: Tupelo couple takes on bakery business

By GINNA PARSONS / Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
Rob and Leeann Lesley just keep growing their food empire.

In 2001, he started Rob Lesley Catering, followed by Romie’s Grocery in 2005 and R.L. Foods, a cafeteria and vending service, in 2013.

A year ago, they ventured into new territory: a bakery.

“The manager at Romie’s kept coming to me and saying, ‘Rob, you’ve got to buy Mary McGuire’s bakery,’ and I kept saying, ‘No, no, no,'” he said. “I have no baking background. I know what tastes good and what looks good. That’s about it.”

“But once our children got wind of it, the pressure was definitely on to buy it,” Leeann said. “We are serious chocolate people.”

The couple bought the business last December and opened in January, keeping the original name.

“If we hadn’t bought it, Mary McGuire’s would be lost, gone,” Rob said. “Plus, the bakery actually complements our other businesses.”

After a few months, the Lesleys were ready to change the name.

“I actually came up with the name Sugar Daddy Bake Shop,” Leeann said. “It’s a bakery that a man owns, but it’s not just a girls’ place. We have beef jerky, cheesecake monster brownies, firecrackers. Men feel comfortable coming in here and placing orders.”

When they bought the bakery on Industrial Road, they got all of Mary McGuire’s recipes with it. They’ve been booked solid for custom cakes since the day they opened.

“We waited about three months to do wedding cakes,” Rob said. “That’s stressful to me. I can do food for 10,000, but a cake for 400 scares me.”

In addition to custom cakes, the bake shop also offers iced sugar cookies, brownies, petit fours and cupcakes; assorted cookies, such as chocolate chip, macadamia nut and oatmeal raisin; fudge; peanut butter cornflake balls and Rice Krispie treats; cake balls; seasonal treats; and savory items, such as Chex Mix, sausage balls, savory crackers, pimiento cheese, spinach dip and corn dip.

“Royal is our top-selling cookie,” Leeann said. “It’s has chocolate chips, macadamia nuts and coconut. It is so good.”

Tara Chappell is the bakery manager and there are eight bakers and decorators.

“Our decorators are amazing,” Leeann said. “You can show them a picture and they can bring it to life.”

Iced sugar cookies — decorated seasonally, with corporate logos or with college mascots — are a huge hit.

“You can say anything you want to on them,” Leeann said. “We’ve done them for Nurses’ Day and Boss’ Day. We do custom cookies for birthdays, holidays, engagements, weddings, even Cinco de Mayo.”

“This is art — edible art,” Rob said. “That’s what food is supposed to be, anyway. We follow a lot of cookie web sites.”

“We’ve become cookie nerds,” Leeann said. “But really we just like to feed people. We like celebrations.”

Leeann said her favorite thing in the shop is the dessert cake freezer, which has undecorated sheet and layer cakes in about a half-dozen different flavors.

“Say it’s your boss’ birthday or it’s your kids birthday and you forgot to order a cake,” she said. “You call Sugar Daddy and in five minutes, we can personalize a cake. And you get to look like a hero.”

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