Connect
To Top

Meet Jackie Huebbe of SugarBot Sweet Shop & Little O’s Old Time Soda Fountain

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jackie Huebbe.

Hi Jackie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I have been passionate about baking for as long as I can remember. I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and baking things for friends and family. I worked in bakeries and retail shops all through high school. When I graduated, I wanted to continue my career in baking, but my family and friends discouraged me and pushed me to do a college-based career instead (there weren’t any trade schools with baking programs at the time in the area, and I couldn’t afford to leave town for school).

I ended up doing a bachelor’s degree in Marketing & Graphic Design. After graduating, I spent my days in a cubicle and my evenings in my home kitchen working out all the cubicle-shaped frustrations I had with corporate life. By 2010, I began working nights and weekends in area bakeries and cafes to gain commercial kitchen experience.

In 2012, I had the unique opportunity to rent commercial kitchen space by the hour, and SugarBot Sweet Shop was officially born. By 2014, I had graduated culinary school and moved into a brick and mortar storefront space full time. In 2015, SugarBot Sweet Shop expanded again, this time into a permanently purchased storefront. In 2018, my husband (Mark) & I expanded the business again by acquiring an old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream parlor roughly a mile from the SugarBot location, called Little O’s Old Time Soda Fountain. We just announced a few weeks ago that we are expanding the soda fountain, rebranding it as SugarBot Creamery, and moving it to a much larger building that we purchased at the end of April. We’re hoping to be moved by late summer/early fall.

I currently operate SugarBot on a daily basis and manage the soda fountain crew as well as a growing team of employees as we recover from COVID and begin to have some normalcy creep back into the operations.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It comes and goes in spurts. Obviously, the expansions are always a bit rocky, but growth is never a smooth and predictable process. The hardest parts for me are always the periods of growth. Outgrowing a space and trying to search for the new space, get the build-outs done, and add employees at the same time is hands down the most stressful part.

COVID has definitely shown me how much I am capable of handling, but also how bad things can really get. The last year and a half has been a hard one, but things are starting to feel steady again, and our new team is almost all in place and trained, which is a huge relief.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
For SugarBot Sweet Shop: SugarBot specializes in childhood favorites, better than you remember them. I love taking things I loved in childhood and making them high quality, tasty, and overall better. That means making them with things that weren’t used a lot in my childhood like real vanilla, dark brown sugar, and chocolate chips with high-quality chocolate (you won’t find Nestle in our kitchen for sure!). It also means going the extra mile and making things the way we’d want to eat them. An example of this is that our chocolate chip cookies have just as much chocolate by weight as it does flour. We don’t skimp!

We also make everything from scratch – even our marshmallows! We make things using a lot of traditional recipes and omit the weird shortcut ingredients like using modified box mixes for cakes. (I was always so surprised to learn how few places actually bake from scratch in the brick and mortar bakery world.)

We have a lot of things we offer at SugarBot: brownies, cupcakes, cookies, pie squares, all kinds of different bars and chocolate confections. We love doing custom work, especially the decorated sugar cookies, which is quickly becoming what we’re known for. (The sugar cookie orders are the ones I always hoard for myself – I love the artistic aspect.)

Speaking of sugar cookies – I do classes at least once a month where I teach decorating, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the business. The classes are listed on our curbside site at www.getsugarbot.com.

For Little O’s / The Creamery: We started making our ice cream in house in 2018 after we bought Little O’s. My husband, Mark, is the main ice cream maker right now. He loves the ability to experiment and create new flavors and play with the textures and inclusions that are possible.

My grandpa had a pharmacy with a soda fountain in it in my hometown of Hermann, MO (it was called Berlener Pharmacy), and I was so excited when Little O’s came up for sale because I always wished that it had been historically accurate when we’d pass it by after we moved to St. Charles. Having the opportunity to make that change and bring the correct history to the space is one of the things we are the most proud of with the business. Between that and being the only place in St. Charles that is actually making their ice cream on site in small batches and using high-quality ingredients as the mix-ins, we believe there isn’t anything with the same quality and care anywhere else in the county.

Our most popular items at Little O’s are the Gooey Butter Cake & Gooey Cake Shake. We make the Gooey Butter Cake using one of the original Gooey Butter recipes, which happens to be from Mark’s great uncle Otto’s bakery, that was in Union, MO called City Bakery. It’s made with a yeasted crust and a corn syrup top. We’re the only place in the greater STL area that still does a true, traditional Gooey Butter Cake. We serve it by the slice and blend it into shakes at the shop. Typically, we offer the Original/vanilla slice and two or three specialty options each weekend.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
Oh gosh – that is hard… I’m not sure at all! I guess maybe that if I had my way, I would be the ghost in the machine. I’m really introverted, and I like working by myself and really being able to focus on the task at hand. I surprised myself by loving teaching classes so much – it doesn’t seem like a thing I would enjoy as someone that is a strong introvert, but it was the thing I missed most during COVID. Doing virtual just wasn’t the same. We’re keeping registration small but have started in person again as on last month.

Pricing:

  • Most items at the bakery are around the $2-4/serving range
  • Items at the soda shop are anywhere from $2-10 usually, some of the specialty items like the Gooey Butter Shake or whole Gooey cakes can be more
  • Decorated sugar cookie classes start at $45/person

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Justin Roskowske and Jackie Huebbe

Suggest a Story: VoyageSTL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Uncategorized