Is this bitter-sweet, or just sweet-sweet when one owner is ready to move on to all that’s thriving in his business, and another owner is eagerly ready to step in?
On January 2nd, get ready to welcome new owners Crystal and Chris Leduc to SōDOUGH Baking Co.! I was able to meet the duo at our SōDOUGH After Hours Social, and they are the nicest people, multitalented with so many endeavors, and have super cute kiddos!
In 2017, SōDOUGH opened its doors and brought a brand new bakery experience to Tallahassee. “As always, it was important for For The Table Hospitality to ‘do things different’ and push the limits as to what the expectations of product and experience in a bakery should be”, said Matt Thompson, of For the Table Hospitality. “We succeeded and are extremely proud of what we built in a relatively short amount of time”.
Crystal and Chris have a background in tea! What started out as a way to “explore the world without leaving home” as a child, then as a happy escape while working in the Covid Unit, slowly morphed into a venture after an amazing response to their creations.
“Honestly, I still giggle”, said Crystal when she thought about how they acquired SōDOUGH. “Matt was kind enough to meet with Chris and I so that we could pick his brain about the local food scene in Tallahassee as we were planning a coffee shop type business, but tea centric. During our meeting, the topic of acquiring SōDOUGH came up, and after a week of corresponding back and forth, we decided we had to do this!”
Thompson said, “Selling SōDOUGH was not something we were looking to do but we also had some decisions to make in the next six months. With Madison Social, Township, Charlie Park, and Social Catering & Events having near record years because of such a strong Q3 and Q4, we knew 2022 was not going to slow down. SōDOUGH was also having a great 2021 but with so much growth ahead, we had some decisions to make.”
Matt continued, “We have always thought SōDOUGH would thrive in an owner-operator setting and after hearing their plans for another concept they were working on, I jokingly offered SoDOUGH. About an hour later I received an email to the tune of ‘were you serious?’ I picked up the phone, called Chris, had an honest conversation for about an hour, and the deal started to come together. Chris and Crystal will keep the SōDOUGH brand alive and growing which is important to all of us at For The Table. SōDOUGH offers such a unique product and setting to Tallahassee and we did not want to see that end”.
Changes Coming To SōDOUGH?
When I asked Crystal, what will change about SōDOUGH, if anything, she responded, “SōDOUGH will remain the bakery we all know and love and the name will stay the same! We have some fresh new ideas we would like to bring in to expand the menu including some vegan, gluten-free, and savory options. We recently set up a partnership with Florida Georgia Citrus out of Monticello to carry their Satsuma Juice! Speaking of Satsuma juices, we are getting our beer/wine license so that we can bring back mimosas, local beers and explore the possibilities of doing monthly SōDOUGH after hours events for mom and dad to unwind a little!”
“We also plan to expand the lunch menu to offer Tallahassee a great lunch stop where they can also grab a sweet treat”, Crystal continued. “Of course we are going to add our Harvest and Steep teas so that our customers can order a fresh tea to go with their SōDOUGH goods. We will also have our teas in pre-packed 2oz bags for the tea lover to grab their favorite flavors for the house!”
New Owner Profile – Meet Crystal Leduc
Can you tell us a bit about where you’re from? If not from Tallahassee, what brought you here, or near here, and when?
Chris and I grew up in Putnam County. It’s a small county about 30 minutes west of St. Augustine. After graduating from nursing school, I moved to Tallahassee to work at TMH in the Pediatric ICU in 2016 and nursed here for a few years but something was missing, the love of my life was still in Putnam county! So I moved back and Chris and I got married but we quickly realized the town wasn’t the same place we grew up in, so we prayed for God to show us where we should go to raise our family, and we were led back here to Tallahassee in 2019 and have enjoyed being residents here ever since! We say everyday how thankful we are to live here!
How did you get into the tea business, what led you to creating tea products?
Every year growing up my church celebrated a missionary named Lottie Moon by throwing a tea party. Lottie was a true pioneer for her time, in the early 1900’s she left everything behind to serve as a missionary working with children in China. It was always my favorite time of year because being from a small town, the amount of world culture I was exposed to was very limited, and tea gave me a way to explore the world without leaving home!!
While managing the Covid Unit at Capital Regional Medical Center, we experienced so much death and despair, tea was a way for me to take my mind off of the tragedies we had to see daily AND create something that could help the community holistically! It just turned out that we were on to something and we have had an amazing response to our teas!
Can you tell us what sets your teas apart from others, and do you offer other products?
What sets us apart from tea companies you may find in the grocery store comes down to one simple concept, Quality. Our blends use high quality hand rolled tea leaves, not like the tea you can buy in box stores which are literally just tea dust from when they roll leaves.
We offer a broad selection of teas, ranging from traditional green teas to more modern dessert teas like Carrot Cake!
Being a nurse, I’m aware that many people have diet restrictions in regards to not being able to consume caffeine, so I made sure we have a wide caffeine free selection as well.
At Harvest and Steep we also believe in using local produce whenever possible and that is why we created our Farm Series! We use local produce whenever possible in our blends creating a taste of the Big Bend in every cup! The farm series is always changing and we are constantly looking to find new farms to partner with and use in our tea blends!
What led you to the decision to acquire SōDOUGH? Were you looking to purchase a bakery, or did you happen upon it and decided to go for it?
Working as the COVID Unit nurse manager during the pandemic I couldn’t tell you how many patients died around my age. Part of my duty was to fill out the death paperwork and each time I would write down their date of birth and death I would wonder, were they happy with their lives? Did they get to live out their dreams in such a small amount of time? I felt that I owed it to them and myself to honor their lives, and the life I currently live to do nothing but chase my dreams. If the pandemic has taught me anything it’s to make sure you do what you love every single day and make sure you are using the talents given to you. I’ve always loved to bake and see the joy it brings to people. SōDough just made sense and we cannot wait to meet everyone in the community as they come in!