It’s hard to tell this story and not whip out every cliche you know about returning to your roots, starting over or coming full circle. There, now that we’ve gotten the formalities out of the way, I feel a little more comfortable proceeding with the issue at hand. A great new Bakery and Deli that has opened on Tybee Island.
“We had about a month to make a decision on this space.” says AJ Baker, owner of the very popular Sundae Cafe on Tybee Island. “We thought it might happen, but my landlord basically said he had 7 other people waiting to look at it if we didn’t want it, so we took it.”
The space he’s referring two is a couple of doors down from Sundae Cafe. Same strip shopping center if you are familiar with the area. If you are not, it looks like a gas station as you drive by. In fact, the gas station convenient store is next door. Sundae Cafe is the best fine dining on the island. Those who know, know that.
The Cafe on 80 Deli and Bakery is the official name. It is AJ’s 3rd location on the island. 80e Gastropub down the street being the 3rd. So why a bakery and deli?
“Sundae cafe started as a little deli 15 years ago.” AJ says. ” A lot of people don’t know that. We had sandwiches, ice cream and cakes.” “Two years in we were offered more space so we went full restaurant and lost the deli part of it.”
The cafe and deli is small. No seating inside. There is a railing facing the window if you don’t mind standing while you enjoy one of their sandwiches, doughnuts or milkshakes. The idea was to offer Tybee Island a ‘grab and go’ concept. Among the sandwiches they offer are a traditional Italian, a Club sandwich and AJs favorite, the Low Country Cuban. Ham, Pork, Pimento Cheese instead of swiss, pickles, mustard and mayo.
A lot of the sweets are being made in house. That would include some of the doughnuts. The cinnamon rolls, cookies, brownies and all breads are made by AJ’s bakers. You see, AJ Baker is absolutely a chef, but he’d be the first to tell you that he is not a baker.
“Our baking team handles all of the breads and desserts for both restaurants from here.” he says. “So we figured if we are doing that, might as well do some sandwiches.”
There’s a huge chalkboard menu on the wall, which will allow them some flexibility in what they are doing. They are weeks old right now so how everything will evolve is yet to be seen. Breakfast sandwiches are apparently a big hit right out of the gate. “Our doughnuts and bagels are super popular.” AJ says.
The goal going forward is to possibly expand into retail pies and cakes down the road. Maybe take advantage of some of the destination wedding business coming to the island. Kind of getting back to where they were when they opened Sundae Cafe 15 years ago. AJ says, no plans for anything else down the road. He’s happy where they are.
“We are kind of going full circle.”
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