on cloud 9

August 2022 View more

For Sarika Singh, owner of Hey Sugar—a purveyor of over-the-top sweets in downtown Geneva—getting into the dessert business was the right move at the right time. 

A Naperville North grad, Singh emigrated from India at age 11 and went on to work in corporate marketing before the birth of her two daughters. After her family moved from Naperville to St. Charles, she was looking for a place to cater cupcakes for a birthday party and stumbled upon a little bakery called the Latest Crave in downtown Geneva. Singh’s desire to go into business for herself happened to align with the owner’s impending retirement. “I got to know the owner, and before you knew it, I had bought it,” she says. 

After seven years of operating the Latest Crave, Singh was itching to expand the business. “The whole idea behind Hey Sugar came from my travels in Europe—all the little pastry shops and little dessert shops and coffee shops,” she says. “We wanted to rebrand and offer more products, and so I needed more space. That’s kind of how Hey Sugar came together.”

Singh opened the shop in the summer of 2020 and serves the cupcakes and addictive English toffee that the Latest Crave was known for, alongside myriad new decadent treats. Traditional French macarons, truffle bites, cakesicles, brownies, blondie bars, and frosting shots (cupcake frosting piped into one-bite chocolate cups) fill the display case. 

What gets the most social media buzz are the souped-up soft-serve ice cream creations with whimsical toppings and funky flavor profiles. The most popular is the Cloud 9: vanilla soft-serve topped with cotton candy, Pocky sticks, strawberry chutney, shortbread crumble, and Pop Rocks. “The minute they see that cloud of cotton candy, kids and grownups alike usually order that,” Singh says. Another popular pick is the Chicken and Waffle, which features vanilla soft-serve in a waffle cone drizzled with honey, caramel, salted maple syrup, and fried chicken skin. “It sounds weird, but those that have tried it will literally come back just for that ice cream,” she says.

Teas from Rare Tea Cellar—a darling of fine-dining restaurants—and coffee from Seattle-based roaster Dillanos round out the offerings, along with elaborately garnished lemonades in the summer and hot chocolates in the winter. 

The shop’s fantastical decor will compete with the treats for your Instagram snaps. The walls are adorned with a swirling display of pink blossoms, situated to appear as if they’re spilling from giant ice cream cones. Mint green chairs surround petite bistro tables, and a cascade of pearly glass ornaments and lights hang from white pergola beams overhead. 

“My two daughters had a lot to do with the design,” Singh says. Fifteen-year-old Saraya envisioned a bathroom covered in stickers, “so we ordered like a thousand stickers, laid them on the floor, took photographs, and turned it into wallpaper,” Singh says. “The other bathroom is very soft and floral and fun, which is what my younger daughter, Sanya, is all about. So we took direction from them.” 

Photos courtesy of Spencer Plum (Interior, Cloud 9, treats) and GAZ Consulting (Cupcake)