Made in Georgia: Her husband’s breakfast boredom led to a scones business

Seven Sisters Scones are available in at least a dozen flavors every day and three additional gluten-free varieties. 
Courtesy of Barrett Restaurant Consulting
Seven Sisters Scones are available in at least a dozen flavors every day and three additional gluten-free varieties. Courtesy of Barrett Restaurant Consulting

Credit: Richard Barreto Photography

Credit: Richard Barreto Photography

Hala Yassine didn’t set out to become a professional baker. With a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, her plan was to become a therapist. But, when her husband, Moe, tired of muffins and bagels for his breakfasts on the go, she tried her hand at making scones. A boxed mix convinced her that she could do better, and she soon perfected her recipe for cranberry-orange scones.

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Farrah Haidar (left) and Hala Yassine are the owners of Seven Sisters Scones in Johns Creek. Courtesy of Seven Sisters Scones
Farrah Haidar (left) and Hala Yassine are the owners of Seven Sisters Scones in Johns Creek. Courtesy of Seven Sisters Scones

Credit: Abby Breaux

Credit: Abby Breaux

That was 25 years ago. Yassine said Moe still eats one of her cranberry-orange scones six days a week, but, now, the scones come from the racks of Seven Sisters Scones, the Johns Creek bakery she co-owns with Farrah Haidar. Yassine and Haidar are two of seven sisters, as in the company name. Yassine and Haidar laughingly refer to the five other sisters collectively as the company’s “opinions in chief.”

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Seven Sisters is offering special Valentine’s Day flavors of scones, including strawberry Champagne. Courtesy of Amy Cole Photography
Seven Sisters is offering special Valentine’s Day flavors of scones, including strawberry Champagne. Courtesy of Amy Cole Photography

Credit: Amy Cole Photography

Credit: Amy Cole Photography

Yassine said her sisters encouraged her passion for experimentation. “They said, ‘What about a savory flavor?’ ‘Can you make a key lime pie scone?’ and I went from baking one flavor to five, then 10.”

One Thanksgiving, she recalled, “we were together, and they said, ‘You’ve really got to make this a business.’ And my answer was, ‘Everybody likes it when it’s free, but the minute they have to pay, nobody will want it.’”

But, her interest piqued, she opened a booth at a farmers market in Johns Creek. “I probably spent 10 times more than I made that day, but people came, tried the scones, liked them, and bought them,” she said. “We were on to something.”

Seven Sisters' breakfast “sconewich” can be customized by choosing a savory scone and then adding eggs, cheese, bacon, chicken sausage or fried chicken. Courtesy of Seven Sisters Scones
Seven Sisters' breakfast “sconewich” can be customized by choosing a savory scone and then adding eggs, cheese, bacon, chicken sausage or fried chicken. Courtesy of Seven Sisters Scones

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

From one market and a cottage license to sell food, she went on to a shared kitchen and booths at more markets. A year later, she and Haidar opened Seven Sisters Kitchen, the bakery’s breakfast and lunch cafe in Johns Creek. The scones became the basis for breakfast or lunch “sconewiches,” along with other dishes, ranging from omelets to Moroccan stews.

Scones might seem a surprising base for sandwiches, but Yassine said she created them after thinking, “If you can put it on a biscuit, wouldn’t it be better on a scone?”

Customers generally choose one of the savory scones, such as bacon, cheddar and chive, or garlic herb, and have eggs, cheese, bacon, chicken sausage or fried chicken added, to turn the scone into a breakfast sandwich.

Hot lunchtime sconewiches include the scone of your choice, plus additions ranging from fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese to deli meats. Courtesy of Seven Sisters Scones
Hot lunchtime sconewiches include the scone of your choice, plus additions ranging from fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese to deli meats. Courtesy of Seven Sisters Scones

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Each day, the cafe offers a choice between four or five gluten-free scones, and a dozen regular scones, which always includes three savory flavors. Seasonal flavors for Valentine’s Day include strawberry Champagne and chocolate raspberry.

If it weren’t for the opportunity to develop new flavors, Yassine said, she would have hung up her apron long ago. Flavors in development right now are cotton candy, taro, and chocolate and red wine. The taro flavor was inspired by her daughter’s love of bubble tea, but it also demonstrates the amount of thought that goes into the process. Taro would make a purple scone, which would attract attention from kids, but is it a flavor that kids would like? And, how do you capture the flavor of taro, so that customers realize it’s not sweet potato, or some other root vegetable?

Sconies are miniature version of full sized Seven Sister Scones, available for Valentine’s Day in an assortment of their customers’ favorite flavors.
Courtesy of Amy Cole Photography
Sconies are miniature version of full sized Seven Sister Scones, available for Valentine’s Day in an assortment of their customers’ favorite flavors. Courtesy of Amy Cole Photography

Credit: Amy Cole Photography

Credit: Amy Cole Photography

The sisters always have shipped their scones, but that part of the business has grown exponentially with the pandemic. An average week will have them selling and shipping 3,000 to 4,000 scones. During the holidays, they sell about 3,000 scones every day.

“Starting out and including shipping meant we had to create a very disciplined production process, really get it down to a science,” Haidar said. “It’s allowed us to have a much larger reach than you might expect from a small bakery 45 minutes outside of Atlanta.”

She also noted that the staff contributes to the family environment of the bakery and cafe, bringing their own influences to the scones, and the food that is served. “We can offer flavors that may be Peruvian, Lebanese, Jamaican, Southern and more,” she said, “because of the diversity of our kitchen. We are so proud of that.”

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