Monday, September 7, 2009

Oh So Sweet It Is

When I took the retail listing earlier this year for the charming storefront on Battle Street in Old Town Manassas, I thought it would be fairly easy to lease. A 1000 SF retail space with an adjacent free parking lot in the heart of Old Town within walking distance of the train station. A dream location!

And it is. But the the economy was faltering, and new business owners hesitated to make lease commitments. I showed the space to coffee shop and ice cream parlor and gift store prospects, start-up companies flush with good ideas but short of confidence (not to mention working capital).

Until Ebony, owner of Oh So Sweet Treats: Sweet Treats For Your Sweet Tooth came along. I met her on a very hot day early in the summer season. We toured the space (not air conditioned that day!) and it was a love-at-first-sight experience. Ebony was already a successful business operator, baking and selling cookies, brownies, cupcakes and other sweets from her home, successfully operating as a mail order company. She was ready to take the next step and open a storefront gourmet bakery.

Over the years, I have seen disappointment on every side of the transaction when a deal does not work out. Owners are frustrated when a space does not lease or sell quickly, or worse when someone changes their mind early on (when contractually, they still can). Buyers and tenants sometimes lose out on what they deem to be the perfect location. Even before working in this business, I've always believed what's meant to be will be when it comes to matching the right property with the perfect user. And this was a perfect match.

The landlord was excited about Ebony's proposed use. They felt that a bakery would be an ideal complement to the neighborhood and their own newly opened Old Town Market next door. Ebony had her own vision of how her store should look, which included taking down and putting up walls, installing new flooring, painting, and ripping out a display shelf in the front window to create a sunny seating area. The landlord was willing to do much of the work for the right tenant, and Oh So Sweet Treats was that tenant.

I have visited Oh So Sweet Treats several times in the past few weeks. It's a welcoming establishment with earth-tone green walls, dark wood-grain flooring and a glass counter displaying an assortment of sweet treats. There are also tables set up (sans chairs, waiting for city approval! Come on, Manassas, if one can stand by the tables and nibble on sweets and sip coffee, let us sit).

I am a cookie lover, and on my first visit I purchased some amazing white chocolate chip cookies, moist and chewy with just the perfect balance of chips and cookie dough and macadamia nuts. Melt in your mouth may be a cliche, but there's no other way to describe how I savored the cookie experience.

I missed Historic Manassas Inc.'s Ribbon Cutting ceremony, but was there later in the afternoon and sampled some truly luscious cupcakes. Ebony's baked goods are up to even the most demanding and discriminating sweet tooth, such as my own, taking the satisfying-a-craving factor to a whole new enjoyment level.

Located at 9411 Battle Street in Manassas, Oh So Sweet Treats is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Saturdays starting at 10:00 a.m. The staff are friendly and there are daily specials (advertised on Twitter, where Ebony has almost 1,500 followers!). Stop by for a real treat.