Many of Chicago’s neighborhoods are cultural enclaves that house some of the country’s best ethnic restaurants. Today, we are highlighting one of the south side’s most reputable bakeries, Brown Sugar Bakery.
Stephanie Hart is self-taught baker from Detroit, who started her business in the Greater Grand Crossing/ Chatham community of Chicago in 2004. Although the neighborhood was established in the mid-1800s, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the neighborhood became a cultural enclave and a business district for the African-American community of Chicago.
Stephanie knew she wanted to open her first location in a neighborhood that would be receptive to her unique baking style. She started selling a reimagined version of her grandmother’s infamous pineapple coconut cake, and after testing her product by selling her cakes at Harold’s Chicken food trucks, Stephanie opened her first location on 75th street, a street nicknamed the Black-nificent Mile for its African American-owned businesses.
Her approach to baking captures the essence of home.
“I want people to be reminded of love, family, and good times,” says Stephanie. “For many of us, food is a way of building community. We sit down to eat and discuss the nuances of our day, and in doing so, our meals become the vehicle by which we connect with others.”
Brown Sugar Bakery embodies the resilience, tenacity and beauty of Stephanie’s culture and community; it is a place that celebrates the teachings of our families and the belief that dreams do come true. Stop by Brown Sugar Bakery, located in the Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion at Navy Pier, to try their famous pineapple coconut cake!