You’d be hard-pressed to find SugarJam Bake Shop & Bistro without some help from Google Maps or Siri. The front facade looks like just another suite in a business park, as opposed to the lovely, intimate neighborhood bistro it is.
But upon arrival at 7950 East Redfield Road, Suite 100, in Scottsdale, you'll sense you're in for an experience. A lush courtyard doubles as the restaurant’s patio. Beside a large tree sit black metal bistro tables, bright yellow chairs, and colorful vases. A specials blackboard invites you to the door. A little bell jingles, announcing your entry. You step into a bistro full of compliments and friendly chatter. The regulars know one another.
“I want this place to be like Cheers, where you feel seen," says owner Dana Dumas. "We know you and your order before you even sit down.”
Sweet treats — and references to sweet treats — loom large in Dumas' bistro. Wall decals read: "I Believe in Chocolate for Breakfast,” “Sweet as Sugar,” and “Life Is What You Bake It.” The bakery case is packed with scones, sandwich cookies, colorful cakes, small and large pies. If you arrive in the afternoon, you’ll miss Dumas' famous Sugar Jammin' cookies, two sugar cookies with a layer of jam in between, and a heart cutout on the top cookie. They sell out first thing every morning.
The pies are popular, too, especially this time of year. Dumas has two customer favorites: apple and sweet potato. Her cherry pies also go fast.
But while she is best known for her sweets, Dumas knows her savory as well. Aside from fried chicken, the menu includes po’boy sandwiches, pulled pork platters, sides of mac and cheese, and, sometimes, fried catfish as a special. Sugar Jam is open Thursday to Sunday for breakfast (the French toast is popular) and lunch and serves dinner on Fridays.
The bistro was featured on Cheap Eats — a travel-heavy series on the Cooking Channel — but that fame hasn't taken anything away from the neighborhood feel of the place.
While we chatted for this interview, one patron, also sitting on the patio, couldn't resist a polite interruption.
“Excuse me, but this,” he said, pointing to his plate, shaking his head as if in disbelief, "is the best fried chicken. I’m cheating since I’m not supposed to be eating fried food. But my God.” After reseating himself, and one bite later, he added: “No. This is not cheating. This is full-blown adultery.”
Dumas laughed and says, “We’ll leave you to it then.”
Later, a woman took a seat on the patio. “Hi, Sher,” Dumas said. “Here for your salad and fried chicken?”
Sher nodded. She had just finished working out and was waiting for a friend. Dumas stepped away, leaving Sher to confess: “I only discovered this place three months ago, but since that day, it’s become my go-to place for Fridays. I can eat anywhere, but I love the food and the people here.”
Then she highly recommended the peach cobbler.