When I tell you that the former pastry chef at La Résidence is opening her own place in Chapel Hill this week, and that it's called Sugarland (140 E. Franklin St.; 929-2100; www.sugarlandchapelhill.com), I'm betting "pastry shop" comes to mind. That's what I thought when I heard that Katrina Ryan was striking out on her own. But I learned she had bigger ideas.
"I wanted a place where people could get a latte and beignets for breakfast, and homemade soup and a good sandwich for lunch," says the effervescent Ryan. "Where parents could take their kids for milk and cookies after school. Where you can have a glass of champagne before a show at Memorial Hall, or a cocktail and crème brûlée after."
That's just what Ryan has created, with her husband and partner, Randolph Ryan, who runs the shop in the evenings. The warm, casually inviting bakery/cafe pays tribute to the 112-year-old building with memorabilia of its previous occupants, including milk bottles and ice cream signs from Durham Dairy and madras plaid drapery from Alexander Julian. Katrina Ryan had the espresso machine custom-painted Carolina blue at the Ferrari factory in Italy.
Sugarland is open daily from 7 a.m. until midnight, with the menu changing according to the time of day. Highlights include croissants, quiche and cinnamon rolls for breakfast; croque monsieur and mac and cheese for lunch; and pastries in the afternoon and evening. Weekdays at 3:30, 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 is "Hot Cookie Happy Hour."
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