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Conversations with Lindsay and Nebi Berhane

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lindsay and Nebi Berhane.

Hi Lindsay and Nebi, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
​Sugar Loaf is the manifestation of a long-time dream of ours since we first met. When we met, we were both professional dancers and also shared the same passion for cooking and baking. We both also had a close connection to the food of our cultural heritages (Ethiopian and Albanian) from cooking alongside our moms growing up. We are inspired by our deep cultural ties to family recipes and our never-ending quest to try new foods and learn new cuisines wherever we travel. We’ve both also worked in the culinary field to support ourselves financially during our dance careers and gained valuable experience from chefs and mentors along the way.

We had always dreamed of opening our own breakfast and lunch cafe, and ultimately it took the pandemic to give us the courage to take that leap when our jobs and dance opportunities in NYC all but shut down. We moved from NYC to Atlanta where Nebi’s family lives in the fall of 2020 and officially started our business.

The name Sugar Loaf is inspired by the name of the street Lindsay grew up on in Virginia, Sugar Loaf Court.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It honestly feels like we learn something new every single day. One of the most constant hurdles as a small business owner starting out is learning a little bit of everything to get started- from bookkeeping to social media to writing a business plan. You can’t be good at everything, but in the beginning stages of starting a business, you can’t necessarily hire your weaknesses, so you have to be a sponge and learn as much as you can.

Our current struggle is trying to keep up with demand as we grow and somehow maintaining a healthy work/life balance. That is especially hard when your business partner is also your spouse! We have learned how to better our communication skills with each other and when to “clock-out” from work mode.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Nebi worked as a professional dancer for over 20 years. In between doing shows, he supported himself by working in various kitchens, ranging from assistant pit master at Honkey Tonk BBQ in Chicago to baker at Levain Bakery in New York City, and even a short stint as a Japanese robatayaki chef at Robataya in New York’s East Village. Learning about and experimenting with flavors felt familiar, almost like dancing to a favorite song. Aging as a dancer and having to constantly evolve really helped prepare him for being a business owner.

Lindsay also worked as a professional dancer for over 20 years. Throughout her dance career, she worked in kitchens as a pastry chef to support herself financially and fuel her creativity. Her culinary career started at Molly’s Cupcakes in Chicago working as a cupcake decorator. She then went on to work as sous pastry chef at The Bristol in Chicago and later as the head pastry chef at Molly’s Cupcakes in NYC. She had the honor of running a non-profit community cooking school with Peterson Garden Project in Chicago, where she gained a wide range of knowledge from the diverse instructors she worked with. Her professional culinary career has been a practice in following her passions down whatever road they take her and adapting to new environments constantly.

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
We love supporting other local chefs and creatives in Atlanta by doing pop-up collabs and events.

We also try to source our ingredients locally whenever possible and are always open to using ingredients from fellow local farmers and purveyors that we meet. Often times tasting a special ingredient like a local honey or an interesting local variety of fruit can inspire a new menu item.

You can support us by visiting us at the Piedmont Park Green Market every Saturday from 9am – 1pm or the Grant Park Farmer’s Market on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Sundays of every month from 9am- 1pm. We also do special monthly pop-ups at breweries and other local events, and you can find out about upcoming pop-ups by following us on Instagram @sugarloafatl.

Our goal is to open a breakfast and lunch cafe, hopefully in the next year. Please follow our journey on Instagram!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Max Shirley John Justiniano Ryan Bourque Lindsay and Nebi Berhane

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