JULY 2023 NEWSLETTER
Welcome To Summer!
July 2023 Newsletter | Volume 3 Issue 7
AN UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP
Yes...There ARE Still Good/Kind People In This World
More than three years ago, in June of 2020 when Sheer Ambrosia was interviewed for the first time on National Public Radio‘s show Marketplace, that same day, I received a telephone call from a gentleman in California named Steve Crandall. He had heard my story on Marketplace and was so touched, he wanted to place an order. Steve was older and didn’t want to order online from my website, he wanted to place it over the telephone with me. I was swamped that day with orders, but there was something about this man that made me stop, take a breath and have a real meaningful conversation. It was such a refreshing talk that day. We discussed politics, religion, current affairs, the ways of the world…all the stuff polite people aren’t supposed to talk about with strangers. We ended up conversing for a couple of hours and Steve and I became instant but unlikely friends who spoke often. When something crazy happened in the world, I would call him or vice versa.
Steve was also one of my most devoted customers. He would look for opportunities to support my business. Once he had to have his entire plumbing system in his home redone and he bought baklava for all of the workers. He would buy baklava for himself, his neighbors and friends during the Christian holidays and also during some Persian holidays because back in the 1970s he and his wife lived in Iran and he still had Iranian friends he wanted to dote on. He was incredibly generous with those in his circle. He insisted that I keep his credit card on file so that he could order baklava at a whim, for whomever and not have to drag out the card. One time I received a pair of snuggly socks in the mail, and I was perplexed as to why someone would send me a pair of socks until I read the card which was from Steve and he said that my baklava was so good, it knocked his socks off! What a cool guy!! He single-handedly kept my moral up! He was always laughing. He was always in a good mood. He loved telling jokes and when I would banter back with him, he would always laugh at my jokes. He once told me that he adored me!
My father died back in 2016 and I miss him dearly. In 2020, Steve showed up to warm my dad's place in my heart…best substitute dad a girl could ever wish for. Steve would email me articles that he thought were important for me to read. While I was making baklava for hours on end, he would call and we would talk about everything. He told me about his childhood and his Ukrainian ancestry. He told me the story of how both of his parents’ families made their way to the United States from the Ukraine via Brazil and Canada. He has a brother that lives in New York who plays the bass. I can still hear his wife Sue’s voice in the background as we talked. She knew about me and didn’t mind her husband having a friendship with the baklava girl.
I might have the timeline a little off, but I want to say four or five months ago I called to check up on him, a usual weekly/biweekly call and he was in the hospital. He had fallen and broken his hip. He was in the hospital for a long time, and then he ended up going to, not one, but two different convalescent homes to help him recover. He was flat on his back for months, but that didn't stop him from still laughing, and joking every time we talked. What a positive and joyful spirit! He purchased a baklava cake for the nursing staff at the hospital, and he purchased baklava for the staff at the rehabilitation home where he was recovering. He was constantly thinking of how he could support me and how he could show gratitude to the people that were helping him regain his health.
Two weeks ago I called to check on him and he told me that the MRSA bacteria had gotten into his hip and he was going to have to have another surgery to re-open the wound to clean out the infection. I was more worried about that than he was, although I did detect a small sense of sadness in his voice when he was telling me about it…something I had never heard. He had made so many strides, and had even taken a trip back to the East Coast to celebrate his wife's birthday with family and friends after he came home from the hospital. We were both shocked and surprised that he was back in there and going to have to redo all of the rehabilitation. Not last Thursday, but the Thursday before, he had that surgery to deal with the MRSA bacteria infection and unfortunately he died this past Monday, July 3rd.
Steve Crandall was by far the best customer friend I have ever had in my 14.5 years in business. When I received a text message from his daughter a few hours after his death from his phone, my heart broke.
I never met Steve in person and I didn’t know what he looked like until last Monday when Lydia (his daughter) texted me a photo of him. But his voice is etched in my mind and his contagious giggle I will never forget. Steve was a man of the world, a global citizen who had empathy and compassion for people. He was passionate about current events and he loved to make people laugh. He had so many friends. He was 80 years old but he still loved to learn. On New Year’s Eve he told me that he was using his retirement as his time to study up on all the things he ever wanted that he didn’t have time to research during his busy career as an attorney. He had two children, a son and a daughter and a lovely wife named Sue. Steve Crandall, thank you for your friendship. May you rest in peace my dear friend. I am grateful to have gotten the absolute pleasure to know you. I hope to see you again one day.
Peace, Love, and Baklava Forever,
P.S. Steve, we talked about you coming to my ribbon cutting when I open my commercial kitchen in a few months. You said that you were going to come. Now I know for sure that you’ll be there.
Sheer Ambrosia Makes Its Debut At The Ogden's Farmers Market
As many of you know, I have wanted to go to Greece for a very long time and I was planning my trip for this summer. However, earlier in the year, I decided that I really wanted to do all I could to take my business to the next level…more about that later. I knew that if I were to do that, I would need to make as much money as humanly possible and I would need to spread the word, near and far that Sheer Ambrosia is here and we’ve got some amazing baklava!
I decided to forgo my plans to travel this summer and every Saturday head one hour north to the Farmers Market in Ogden, Utah. It’s a HUGE market and I was told by a new friend who’s been selling there for the past few years that I could make excellent money there with my baklava.
Of course, I wanted to make my debut in style, professionalism is an absolute must for Sheer Ambrosia, so I hired the best tent maker in Utah, Lee Brasher from Wasatch Prints. Lee’s son Josh and I sat down together and designed a beautiful tent with all the extras and the rest is history!
My team and I have been at it for 7 weeks now and it’s been GREAT for business! We are getting the word out and making wonderful sales. The first weekend, there were over 20,000 people in attendance and we ran out of samples. Since then, we have been preparing and handing out 960 samples every Saturday. This past weekend we SOLD OUT completely for the second time! The summer market goes until the second Saturday in September for a total of 16 weeks. I’m so happy that I decided to do this. Greece has been on my bucket list for a long time, it can wait one more year.
Latest Review: Jolene L. Has A Lot To Say About Sheer Ambrosia
5 STAR REVIEW *****
This past Saturday, I was driving home from the Farmers Market and I received a phone call from a gal wanting to know if I had any baklava for sale. I did, so I told her to meet me at my house in about an hour. We had a wonderful conversation and I gave her the baklava she wanted, expertly wrapped. The next day, Sunday, she sent me a link to this Yelp Review...
I was on the hunt for GOOD baklava. Having tried a few different places in Utah, my search was over when I found Sheer Ambrosia!
According to Yelp's list of "Best Baklava" in SLC, this place is on the list and truly is number ONE!
Don't let the address or hours fool you, just call. Rita is quick to respond 🙂
While her website encourages you to order online and she ships these delicious treats worldwide, it is VERY possible to pick up a fresh batch the same day, just call. You might even find her at the Ogden Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Her traditional honey walnut baklava is out of this world delicious! From the first bite, you know it was baked fresh because the layers of crisp phyllo make a pleasant "crunch" sound when you sink your teeth into it.
With your second bite, you immediately taste REAL honey. With your third bite, you feel the chopped walnuts and that texture is authentic. With your fourth bite, you'll finish with delicate notes of lemon, cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla. Perfection!
But I did have to eat four delicious pieces to write this accurate description 😉
From her website, I learned that in her childhood, Rita grew up with fresh apples and berries which her grandma and mom both baked into pies. It's with that same love of fresh fruit that Rita creates incredible fruit and nut combinations into her fresh, made to order baklava.
With peach season in Utah, best believe we will be ordering that from Rita next!
I am honored to support this minority owned business for three main reasons:
1. Rita's baklava is perfect in taste and texture!
2. Rita's customer service is fast, friendly, and enjoyable!
3. Rita's journey, to get where she is today is so profound. AND she's an encouragement to others experiencing tough learning lessons in life.
A true blessing to have met Rita and tasted her delicious baklava!!
--Jolene L. YELP REVIEW
Sheer Ambrosia is Moving Into a Commercial Space!
After the dust settled and Christmas was a wrap, I had to have an honest conversation with myself…if I want to grow my business once and for all, I’m going to have to stop playing small. If I really want to double my revenue (at least) and grow Sheer Ambrosia’s reach, I’m going to have to stop being afraid. I am going to have to take more calculated risks. Up until this point in my life I can’t say I have never been afraid to take risks, but I can say I’ve never allowed that fear to stop me. Post-Covid however, I must say I have changed a little. For the past few years, I’ve been playing the wait and see game, working comfortably from home. Well, being complacent is not going to help me achieve my dreams…it’s time for me to face my future with a positive spirit. My kids are older and living on their own now, I have no reason not to move towards my goal to share my baklava with the world.
I’m tired of going to networking events and seeing the look in people’s eyes after they ask me where my bakery is located and when I say my home, they look at me as if I have a hobby and I’m pretending to be an entrepreneur. And Lord knows I’m equally exhausted with not being able to take FULL advantage of opportunities because some players in the industry will not work with home-based bakeries. The time has come!
We started looking for a commercial location in April. My trusted friend and realtor, Heidi Anderson, ended up finding it close to downtown Salt Lake, and the architectural plans are in with the City of Salt Lake now waiting for approval. The shop will be 95% commercial kitchen with a small space for will-call. We will have plenty of space to make our magic and grow our influence! I am so excited! I will keep you all in the loop with updates and pictures. Thank you for helping me (with your orders and support) make all of this possible. The future is BRIGHT for Sheer Ambrosia!