Founder Charissa Davidovici Weighs In On Her Expanding Candy Kingdom
By Morgan Westling
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Founder Charissa Davidovici took the world by storm back in 2009 when she and her family opened the then confectionary only Sugar Factory in Las Vegas. Then one year later they welcomed the first flagship location on the Las Vegas Strip. It was clear from the start that this was not your classic candy shop, with a menu full of candy-inspired goblets of smoking technicolor cocktails, towering candy creations, and a wide selection of couture lollipops. The magnitude of celebrity appearances at Sugar Factory was also a hint that Davidovici had created quite the buzz with her new restaurant concept.
As Sugar Factory swiftly expanded over the next few years, so did it’s fan base. In 2016, the Sugar Factory was named, “The Most Instagrammed Restaurant in the United States.” The new year is just beginning, and Sugar Factory now has over 22 locations worldwide. The future continues to look bright, with many other restaurant concepts hatching from the well-known brand. Food & Beverage Magazine sat down with Davidovici to inquire further into the unique restaurant concept, her work ethic, and her plans for the future.
From Creation To Celebrity Craze
Before building this candy empire, Davidovici was an elementary school teacher with her degree in early childhood education. She has two daughters of her own that have helped inspire many of the youthful and imaginative creations Sugar Factory has to offer. The original concept of Sugar Factory was invented while discussing candy at the dinner table one night. She explains that the world-famous Couture Pop was the first item her family came up with. “With this signature bling accessory and celebrity fans as our foundation and beginning, we wanted to combine candy and the exciting experience in a place for everyone that went beyond the typical restaurant and confectionary shops.”
With locations in some of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, including Las Vegas, New York City, Bahrain, Chicago, Miami and Orlando, Sugar Factory is known all over the world for its celebrity-endorsed Couture Pops, which have turned sweets into the latest designer accessory. Iconic superstars including Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Britney Spears, Pit Bull, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, and Drake are just a few of the celebrities who have either endorsed or have been spotted with the sparkly lollipops.
Celebrities of all backgrounds have been a key factor in the brand’s explosion. Most people that have heard of Sugar Factory associate the brand with the celebrities who frequent the stores worldwide. When asked about these celebrity appearances, Davidovici says, “Our restaurant has welcomed everyone from grandmothers, parents, dating couples, celebrations of Sweet Sixteen, Bachelorettes, Bat Mitzvah, a few furry animals, and of course many well-known celebrities. Many of the wonderful celebrities who have enjoyed Sugar Factory are Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Scott Disick, Jennifer Lopez, the Kardashian family, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Heidi Klum, Lil Kim, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, Rihanna, and Pitbull, to name a few – all celebrating birthdays and special occasions. We have such a fun concept and continue to expand our offerings with exciting new adventures, so it’s hard not to love! It’s an honor to be able to share such an important occasion with them. A forever memory!”
That Something Special
It’s clear that Sugar Factory provides something special—a unique restaurant concept that other candy shops have failed to grasp. Davidovici says, “Sugar Factory American Brasserie is unique because it provides a place where children can enjoy sweets and treats while adults can bring out their inner child. The expansive menu has something for every type of guest, and all of our signature candy-infused cocktails can be made without alcohol. The environment is happy, upbeat, and always fun, with favorite tunes, celebrations of every kind, and luxury accents in the design.” When walking into Sugar Factory American Brasserie, you get more than an edible treat; you also receive an experience, no matter what age you are.
What’s On The Menu
What many people don’t know about Sugar Factory American Brasserie is that the store consists of a full-service restaurant with a menu that has more than just sugary treats. We asked Davidovici to tell us a little bit about the restaurant side of the business and let us in on her favorite dish. She says, “The restaurant has something for everyone. Menu selections include savory and sweet options ranging from crepes and plenty of healthy salads to burgers and delicious pizzas. Depending on the location we also offer Sushi. You don’t always have to have a dessert for dinner! “yet, we recommend it”We do offer gluten free and vegetarian options as well. My favorite dish is the brick chicken, which is an all-natural chicken breast, slowly roasted and basted with thyme and garlic, green bean almandine, and lemon-herb sauce. It is served with Yukon gold mashed potatoes, but I like to swap out for French fries, they are my favorite!”
Of course, we also had to ask about her favorite item on the dessert menu, which brought a lot of excitement. The food menu is excellent, but, “The desserts are what bring the “wow” factor.” She says, “I absolutely love our insane milkshakes! They are so much fun and our team has created a mix of so much yummy goodness together. The possibilities are endless. It’s essentially a blizzard gone crazy! For example, one that I particularly love is the Insane Campfire Spiked S’mores Coffee Milkshake (approved by rapper Drake.) It was actually our first spiked Insane Milkshake and features a chocolate coffee milkshake, Virginia Black Whiskey, espresso, and toasted marshmallow syrup, topped with a double-decker s’more with gold-dusted graham cracker cookies. Of course, it’s also offered in a non-alcoholic version.”
Another popular Insane Milkshake on the Sugar Factory menu is the Insane Caramel Sugar Daddy Cheesecake Milkshake, made with vanilla cheesecake ice cream and caramel sauce, topped with whip cream, then piled high with a slice of New York style cheesecake and a rainbow lollipop. This milkshake is served in an edible chocolate mug covered in graham crackers. (Yep, I’m saying it—WOW!)
A Bright Future Ahead
Sugar Factory American Brasserie continues to succeed with Davidovici’s stellar restaurant concept being the pumping heart of the operation. The future of Sugar Factory will be even bigger than its already impressive past. Not only do we expect to see more locations opening worldwide, but the Sugar Factory concept has begun to expand into more creative concepts as well. Most recently, in December 2018, Sugar Factory opened Theatre Box in the downtown Gaslamp District of San Diego, which features a full restaurant, large confectionary store, chocolate lounge, and a luxury VIP movie theater in partnership with the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. The Theatre Box complex will also include Nick Cannon’s Wild ‘N Out Sports Bar and Arcade and Pitbull’s iLove305 bar on the rooftop overlooking San Diego.
We ended our conversation with Davidovici by asking what her personal mantra is for life because taking care of a family and running an international company is impressive but can’t always be easy. She gave us some simple and sound words for those hustling their way through all aspects of life. “Live life to the fullest. Be thankful. Have faith. Surround yourself with positivity. Be kind. Love yourself. Laugh often. Work hard. Cherish and spend quality time with loved ones.” When it comes to the restaurant industry, Sugar Factory is a great example of how strong work ethic mixed with a fresh and exciting idea can be the winning combination for success. Sometimes, it’s the restaurant concept that makes all the difference.
Congratulations, Charissa, on all of your hard work and good luck