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Sarah Simmons' smallSUGAR in soft opening phase

smallSUGAR, a new restaurant/bakery in Columbia's Vista, gears up for grand opening

Columbia, SC (WLTX) — SmallSUGAR, the latest venture of chefs Sarah Simmons and Aaron Hoskins, is in the soft opening stage at 709 Gervais Street in the Vista.

Soft openings are the trial periods for restaurants to test recipes and hone customer service before officially opening. Simmons admits that they are taking a little longer than they had initially planned, but she wants to offer her customers only the best. She also wants to serve her employees "by making them feel proud and ready and confident before we officially open the doors to the public."

You can swing by and check out a limited selection of goods, and grab a cup of coffee or tea, at smallSUGAR 7 a.m.-3 p.m. any day of the week. It's Simmons' goal that smallSUGAR become a morning gathering spot and local hangout for area residents.

The menu features breakfast bowls -- granola and yogurt, overnight oats, and fruit -- and lunch items such as tartines (open faced sandwiches) and salad, veggie bowls, and traditional sandwiches. Fresh baked cookies (chocolate chunk, anyone?) and pastries (almond croissants!) can be found on the counter area daily. Then there's the fresh baked bread.

Hoskins has been experimenting with different recipes and posting photos of the test results on smallSUGAR's Facebook page. Fresh baked country loaf, a sourdough with grits and rosemary, a sesame white bread and classic ciabatta will be staples at smallSUGAR, along with a rotation of other breads, tarts and pastries. The couple currently provide Motor Supply Co. Bistro with fresh baked breads.

Once the grand opening is announced, don't think that will be it for smallSUGAR. The space has a below street level space that Simmons hopes to eventually turn into a private dining area -- with a cocktail bar -- in the next year.