Rochester businesses Lumen Coffee, Sweet House Bakery expanding partnership

Working together for over a year, Jenyce Habibovic of Sweet House Bakery and Bryce Fogelson of Lumen Coffee are collaborating even further with plans to go into delivery and catering services together.

Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

September 21, 2022 at 4:05 PM

ROCHESTER — Come next Tuesday, Sept. 27, any baked good at Sweet House Bakery can come with caffeine from Lumen Coffee.

After a year of partnership between Sweet House owner Jenyce Habibovic and Lumen Coffee owner Bryce Fogelson, they are finally seeing the collaboration come to fruition at Sweet House Bakery. Lumen Coffee has been purchasing pastries from Sweet House over the last year, and a few months back the conversation for Fogelson to return the favor to Habibovic picked up once more.

“We just decided a few months back, let’s go for it,” said Habibovic. “I need good coffee and we want to provide it for the Mayo staff and visitors who come here, and match our quality pastries. So we’re getting quality coffee, and who better than Lumen?”

The partnership between Habibovic and Fogelson began a few years ago when Habibovic’s father connected the pair from his days as a Rochester firefighter alongside Fogelson.

“It’s always fun to do collaborations that have some personal connection with the fire department. It helps make the rockier times easier to get through,” said Fogelson.

A full menu of drinks from Lumen Coffee will be available at Sweet House Bakery during the soft coffee opening on Tuesday. The full menu includes espresso shots, specialty lattes, blended coffee, smoothies, milk shakes and tea. There will also be special deals available for the first week of the drinks becoming available.

“I’m super excited to add the coffee, every bakery needs it,” said Habibovic.

In addition to the coffee and bakery collaborations, Habibovic and Fogelson are working to add delivery services for both of their businesses in the near future. Both owners are still figuring out the web services that will best suit their businesses’ delivery needs. They are planning to do their own delivery services and not planning to partner with third party services such as DoorDash, Grubhub or UberEats.

“It’s hard to do third parties with a bakery because if people put an order in online and an item is already sold out it makes it hard for that day,” said Habibovic. “We make everything fresh every morning, so we sell out. We sell all through the day for the pastries still, but people should definitely call ahead if they want something.”

A colorful variety of treats can be found at K&J’s Elegant Pastries and Creamery. (contributed)

By Susan Swagler
Alabama NewsCenter

Kristal Bryant’s sweet success is absolutely made from scratch.

The chef-owner of K&J’s Elegant Pastries & Creamery, a custom cake shop in downtown Birmingham that specializes in cakes for all occasions, including weddings, started her business in 2010 in her home kitchen making sweets for friends and family. She outgrew that space and opened a shop on Kent Dairy Road in Alabaster in 2013 selling custom cakes, cupcakes, cookies and cinnamon rolls. The initial investment was $15,000; she and her husband painted the place and built their own counter.

Then the internet found her and her signature, over-the-top milkshakes. And those “Kollasal” Milkshakes launched her career.

K&J’s Elegant Pastries & Creamery has a sweet home in Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Bryant attended Virginia College Culinard in Birmingham. “I am classically trained as a savory chef,” she says, “and just didn’t want to be boxed in, especially being a female in this industry.” Her classmates figured she would study pastry, but she told them, “’I want to be with the big dogs.’ It was always a dream to run a big hotel or to work in a big-time restaurant like Highlands or Bottega. That was kind of where I envisioned myself while I was in school.”

She has more than 18 years of experience in the food industry in restaurants of all sizes, but she’s also an artist who enjoys painting. She even helped design her shop, swapping out what the architect had originally drawn for cool marble and clean lines in pink and white; choosing the striking, whisk-shaped light fixtures; and designing her own cozy-chic onsite office.

“I like to say that we’re ‘the happy place,’” she says. “You come in here, it’s pink, it’s bright. Everybody’s happy, and you get something sweet.”

A colorful variety of treats can be found at K&J’s Elegant Pastries and Creamery. (contributed)

It’s happy, in part, because they offer more than 100 flavor combinations of cupcakes that change seasonally and even daily. Customers can rely upon five popular standard flavors: vanilla, strawberry, red velvet, sweet potato, and cookies and cream. There will be another 10 to 14 choices in the colorful display case, too. Depending upon the day, you might find pancakes and bacon, salted caramel, cotton candy, white chocolate raspberry, banana pudding and peanut butter cup.

Bryant delights in riffing on crowd favorites like strawberry. “That’s one thing I like about my business. We try to step outside of the box all the time. How can we take that same cupcake but make it different? I’ve got a strawberry cupcake, but I’ve probably got eight different variations of the same cupcake. I’ll add something or fill it with something or add raspberry and blueberry and make it ‘triple berry.’”

Some of her more inventive cupcakes include Karlyn’s Soul Food, named for her mom. “It’s a honey cornbread muffin, candied yams as icing, a piece of (fried) chicken and drizzled in honey. We do that at Thanksgiving, and it is popular! You wouldn’t believe it.” In 2016, she won the Magic City Chocolate Challenge with a sweet-salty peanut butter cup cupcake topped with bacon dipped in white chocolate.

While she was still in Alabaster, at her husband’s suggestion, she added ice cream to her menu. Then someone showed her a photo of what people in Australia were calling “freak shakes,” and she decided to make them herself. Her Kollasal shakes come with lots of toppings, but her “Kollasal Jawdroppers” are something else entirely.

Since then, Bryant and her milkshakes have been featured in Southern Living, on the Travel Channel, in Cosmopolitan magazine and more. Thanks in part to the buzz, she competed on the Food Network’s “Girl Scout Cookie Championship.”

Also, since then, social media has been a vital part of her business plan.

Bryant is attuned to her customers. That’s why she recently added sandwiches to her menu. She started simply with honey ham and cheddar as well as smoked turkey and Swiss (or whatever combo you want) layered into a fresh croissant and then cooked crisp on a panini press. She also serves her mom’s chicken salad on a warm croissant.

Pressed sandwiches made with croissants are the latest additions to K&J’s menu. (contributed)

The over-the-top milkshakes, the colorful cupcakes and now lunch certainly bring people in the door, but Bryant says she most loves to create cakes.

“I’ve done cakes that have taken me a whole week,” she says. “The largest cake that we ever made was for a big Italian wedding at The Club for 500 people. It was 12 tiers; it had 4,000 sugar flowers. I had to take a team of four people to go set it up. We had to have a ladder and everything.”

If you want a cake from K&J’s, there’s generally a two- to three-week lead time and a detailed questionnaire about flavor, frosting, filling, number of tiers, theme, colors, message and number of guests. No cake order is complete without an in-depth discussion with a team member. Bryant says she welcomes inspirational photos but cautions customers that those only give her “an idea of what they want.” What they get will be uniquely theirs – and hers.

Kristal Bryant loves the creativity she can express through cakes. (contributed)

With K&J’s, Bryant has built a family business. Even the name speaks to that. “I am the only K in my household. The rest are Js.” There’s Jonathan, she says, referring to her husband who is part owner of the business, and Jonathan Junior – their newest family member and only a few months old. She has two daughters, Ja’Kaiya and Jaliyah.

Her daughters, cousins, nieces and others have worked here, too.

All are committed to customer service, Bryant says. “We all believe in taking care of the customer. We really want them to have a good experience.”

Meanwhile, she’s proud to have something to pass along to her kids.

Her older daughter is at UAB and plans to become a brain surgeon. Her younger daughter is going into high school, and in ninth grade they begin focusing on what career they might want. Jaliyah was two when Bryant opened her first store, and she has grown up with it. “She knows how to run everything,” Bryant says. “She knows how to make fondant pieces. She knows how to make every shake. She runs the register. Her tips at the end of the week, I’m saying, ‘Girl, you’ve got too many tips.’ But everyone says, ‘Your little one, her customer service is so good.’ She started out running shakes. She was our ‘shake runner.’”

Now Jaliyah is thinking about her future.

A colorful variety of treats can be found at K&J Elegant Pastries and Creamery. (contributed)

2260 9th Ave. N.
Birmingham, AL 35203

Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Closed Sunday and Monday.

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