Sugar Factory brings sweet fun and wow factor to Atlanta

Atlanta - September 20, 2019 - Kelly Audette talks with chef Brian Ogden about the Sugar Factory American Brasserie, 1080 Peachtree St NE in Midtown, Atlanta. The Sugar factory has a large variety of sweet treats and cocktails as well as a full menu of gourmet items. (Tyson Horne - tyson.horne@ajc.com)

Conjuring visions of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Sugar Factory American Brasserie soft-opened its first Atlanta location earlier this month, taking over the two-story, 8,000-square-foot Midtown space previously occupied by Mi Cocina.

Entering through the revolving door on Peachtree Street, guests can check out the celebrity photos that top the signature floor-to-ceiling “candy wall,” and choose from more than 500 kinds of sweets, including Sugar Factory’s “world-famous” Couture Pops. Also on offer in the confectionary café are coffee, hot chocolate, housemade rainbow doughnuts, pastries, gelato and ice cream.

The Sugar Factory Rainbow Sliders, classic sliders served on colorful buns with American cheese, pickles, crispy onions and signature sauce, with a rubber ducky to take home. Photo credit: Mia Yakel.
The Sugar Factory Rainbow Sliders, classic sliders served on colorful buns with American cheese, pickles, crispy onions and signature sauce, with a rubber ducky to take home. Photo credit: Mia Yakel.

Beyond the host stand, the restaurant features multiple seating areas, with upstairs and downstairs full service bars, and a private dining room. As you might expect, the decor mixes the opulent and the eye-popping, with the likes of red tufted banquets, antique brass accents, crystal chandeliers, and a one-of-a-kind Gummy Bear tree.

The family-friendly menu includes plenty of adult indulgences, too, with dishes and drinks that border on the psychedelic in both execution and presentation.

Among the favorites, shareable Rainbow Sliders are served on brightly colored buns with American cheese, pickles, crispy onions and signature sauce, plus a rubber ducky to take home. The Big Cheesy Burger is topped with creamy mac and cheese, American cheese, applewood bacon, and barbecue sauce on a toasted brioche bun.

The Sugar Factory candy wall. Photo credit: Mia Yakel.
The Sugar Factory candy wall. Photo credit: Mia Yakel.

But there are more subtle dishes too, like a pan-roasted salmon filet, served atop Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, with grilled asparagus and bacon herb sauce.

Among the audacious beverages, the $36, 64-ounce, alcohol-infused “Goblets” come in flavors such as Lollipop Passion, Ocean Blue, and Virginia Strawberry Lemonade. Ceremoniously poured tableside, they dramatically bubble and smoke like a dry ice magic trick.

The most famous dessert is the $99 King Kong Sundae, which serves up to 12 people. It’s constructed with 24 scoops of ice cream, covered in cookies, a doughnut, a cupcake, waffle cones and candy, before being crowned with three sauces and whipped cream, and ignited with sparklers.

The Sugar Factory World Famous Sugar Factory King Kong Sundae $99 serves 12 with 24 scoops of ice cream covered in cookies, a doughnut, a cupcake, and candy, topped with whipped cream and sparklers. Photo credit: Mia Yakel.
The Sugar Factory World Famous Sugar Factory King Kong Sundae $99 serves 12 with 24 scoops of ice cream covered in cookies, a doughnut, a cupcake, and candy, topped with whipped cream and sparklers. Photo credit: Mia Yakel.

Last week, Sugar Factory corporate executive chef Bryan Ogden sat down at a table at the Atlanta restaurant to talk about development of the menu and what it’s like to work in such a high-energy setting.

“I started with the company at the first location inside the Paris Las Vegas hotel,” Ogden said. “I think we’re on our fourth edition of the concept now. But the big idea is it’s a place to have fun. It’s a place for everybody, and it lends itself to any kind of occasion — a birthday party, a date night, brunch with the family. From age 3 to 93, there’s something to do at Sugar Factory.

“We have all kinds of great things on the menu, from our appetizers and soups and salads, to our Monster Burgers and Insane Milkshakes. We’re trying to bring the wow factor to everything, so we put a lot of time into the presentation. People eat first with their eyes, and in a time of social media, everything needs to be over the top to show up on Instagram. I have a fine dining background, so it was a learning curve. But it’s a lot of fun.”

The Sugar Factory corporate executive chef Bryan Ogden. Photo credit: Mia Yakel.
The Sugar Factory corporate executive chef Bryan Ogden. Photo credit: Mia Yakel.

Speaking about the menu and the bar program, Ogden revealed that the Rainbow Sliders are currently the No. 1 menu item.

“We will sell upwards of 1,000 of those at each location per month,” he said. “Since we introduced it, it’s caught on like wildfire. Everybody loves them. Our Sampler Platter is sort of our greatest hits, with our mac and cheese pops, onion rings, crispy chicken fingers, Buffalo wings, and two dipping sauces.

“As far as the bar, you can come in and get a beer or a glass of wine or a classic cocktail. Or you can try one of our crazy Goblets, or Chocolate Martinis. We have a lot of drinks that are inspired by candies, a Lemon-Head martini being one of them and one of my favorites.”

Atlanta is the newest Sugar Factory location, and while the menu is the same everywhere, each buildout is unique in some way, Ogden said.

“Every space is a little bit different,” he said. “Atlanta has the Gummy Bear tree. I’d never spent time in Atlanta before. This is my first time experiencing it. I got a chance to go to a Braves game, and that was very cool, in a great ballpark with all the restaurants.

“Our restaurant is something new and fresh in Atlanta, and we’ve had a great turnout already. I grew up in San Francisco, and Atlanta kind of reminds me of San Francisco, but a little bit cleaner and a little bit warmer. And the people are really friendly. I love it.”

DINING OUT

11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sundays–Thursdays; 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Fridays–Saturdays. Weekend brunch: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.

Appetizers, $8-$28; soups and salads, $8-$28; sandwiches and burgers, $16-$24; pasta and entrees, $17-$48; sides, $6-$9.

1080 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta. 470-428-4395, sugarfactory.com.

Scroll down to see more photos from Sugar Factory:

The Sugar Factory The Big Cheesy Burger with certified black angus beef, topped with creamy mac and cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles, American cheese, applewood bacon, served with BBQ sauce on a toasted brioche bun.
The Sugar Factory The Big Cheesy Burger with certified black angus beef, topped with creamy mac and cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles, American cheese, applewood bacon, served with BBQ sauce on a toasted brioche bun.

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Sugar Factory Sampler Platter with buttermilk onion rings, crispy chicken fingers, buffalo wings, and mac and cheese pops served with dipping sauces.
The Sugar Factory Sampler Platter with buttermilk onion rings, crispy chicken fingers, buffalo wings, and mac and cheese pops served with dipping sauces.

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Sugar Factory Pan Roasted Ora King Salmon, a slow roasted salmon filet, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and bacon herb sauce.
The Sugar Factory Pan Roasted Ora King Salmon, a slow roasted salmon filet, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and bacon herb sauce.

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Sugar Factory Giggles Snickers Milkshake, cookies and cream ice cream blended with toasted peanuts, topped with a caramel waffle, snickers, whipped cream, and sprinkles served in a chocolate covered mug with Snickers pieces and rainbow sprinkles.
The Sugar Factory Giggles Snickers Milkshake, cookies and cream ice cream blended with toasted peanuts, topped with a caramel waffle, snickers, whipped cream, and sprinkles served in a chocolate covered mug with Snickers pieces and rainbow sprinkles.

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Sugar Factory Goblets (from right to left) The Watermelon Patch, Lolipop Passion, Ocean Blue, and Virginia Strawberry Lemonade.
The Sugar Factory Goblets (from right to left) The Watermelon Patch, Lolipop Passion, Ocean Blue, and Virginia Strawberry Lemonade.

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Sugar Factory The Big Cheesy Burger, Rainbow Sliders, The Watermelon Patch and Lolipop Passion Goblets, Giggles Snickers Milkshake, World Famous Sugar Factory King Kong Sundae $99 serves 12 , and Sampler Platter.
The Sugar Factory The Big Cheesy Burger, Rainbow Sliders, The Watermelon Patch and Lolipop Passion Goblets, Giggles Snickers Milkshake, World Famous Sugar Factory King Kong Sundae $99 serves 12 , and Sampler Platter.

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Sugar Factory interior dining area.
The Sugar Factory interior dining area.

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

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