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Jan 23, 2018
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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What I Do: Reine Bayoc of SweetArt

June 13th 12:06pm, 2016

WhatIDo_Jun16

 
Step inside SweetArt during a bustling Saturday afternoon, and you’ll find it hard to believe co-owners Reine and Cbabi Bayoc had never worked in a restaurant when they opened in 2008. Cheerful staff pipe frosting onto mini cupcakes and prep vegetables behind the counter while they chat with regulars. Others dine at a community table, surrounded by Cbabi Bayoc’s colorful, family-focused artwork. The Bayocs’ recipe for success: hard work, relentless optimism and a vegan menu that delights omnivores and herbivores alike. Here, Reine Bayoc shares her thoughts on baked goods, honest conversation and serving more than great cupcakes.

 

Starting out
“It worked in the beginning because it had to. We spent all our money to open this, and we didn’t take out a loan. We had three kids and a couple hundred dollars left. When you’re in that sort of do-or-die situation, you do. So we did.”

On vegetarian and vegan food
“We don’t put out anything unless it tastes delicious. It’s not one of those ‘It’s delicious – for vegan.’ It has to be delicious, period.”

Mom’s buttermilk biscuits
“On Saturdays we have these biscuits … that remind me of my mother’s biscuits, and they are the best baked good in the shop. … I’ve had people come in and say, ‘This is better than Popeye’s!’ And look, to black people, when you come in and say a biscuit is better than Popeye’s – what? That is a spectacular biscuit.”

Beyond sweets
“It’s so not about cupcakes and cookies. People come here (when) they could go anywhere and they come here for a reason. … That’s the energy that we are trying to create. Everyone has a day; some people have really long days. Everyone has a life, and some people have really hard lives, and they come here to release a little bit.

Fostering dialogue
“We have people from all walks of life and all nationalities and ethnicities who feel comfortable (here). And I don’t know how that happens. I don’t know if it’s the art, I don’t know if it’s (the) cupcakes, I don’t know if it’s the staff, but they come and they feel safe, so I feel like that made it easier for us to have those open dialogues (about) racial issues.”

Pursuit of perfection
“Everything evolves. Even our traditional baked goods evolve. I’ve changed probably 90 percent of our recipes in the last year. I’m constantly pushing it just a little bit further.”

On confidence
“In the beginning I questioned myself so much because I didn’t go to culinary school. (I thought), ‘Oh, but I’ve worked really hard and I think I’m good at this and people seem to like it.’ … Now there is no ego in this. I come in, I put on my apron, I get to work, and I don’t question myself. If I think it’s good, it’s good.”

 

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

By Catherine Klene

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5 Responses to “What I Do: Reine Bayoc of SweetArt”

  1. Samm Says:
    June 15th, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Love SweetArt!! The owners the team members…and the customers. You feel like you are in a safe place there with GREAT eats.

  2. Gibron Says:
    June 15th, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    What is the point in mentioning it feels like a safe place? That’s a weird comment. You should have just stopped after your first sentence. The rest of the comment wasn’t needed.

  3. Brit Says:
    June 16th, 2016 at 9:00 am

    It does feel like a safe place! And has amazing food and vibes. I love sweet art!

  4. CHERYL DANIEL Says:
    June 17th, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    LOVE THE FOOD, LOVE THE ART, LOVE THE FAMILY, AMAZING PARENTS AND TEAM!!!! A ST. LOUIS MUST SEE FOR SURE. CAN’T WAIT UNTIL MY NEXT VISIT. #YUMMMMMM

  5. Diana O Says:
    June 17th, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Love Sweet Art….in historic Shaw and a great space, place, food and cupcakes to diva die for!!

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