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Sugar ‘n Spice has come a long way since opening in 2011

The Wausau shop is located at 108 S. 2nd. Ave.

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February 5, 2024

WAUSAU – It’s all sugar ’n spice and everything cheesecake for a small business owner in Wausau.

Hannah Steege – the co-owner of Sugar ‘n Spice Cheesecake & Coffee on 2nd Ave. in Wausau – said the past decade-plus has been filled with a variety of ups and downs, but nothing she hasn’t been able to handle.

“I don’t panic, I pivot,” she said. 

Steege said she got her start by making her cupcakes and confections in the Entrepreneurial & Education Center (EEC) on 72nd Ave. in Wausau’s westside industrial park in 2011.

A year later, she was on the move to a new location – that was until she encountered a major hurdle. 

“The building wasn’t conducive to having a kitchen,” Steege said. “The requisite ventilation hood would have cost more than $70,000 because of the way it would have to be configured in that facility.”

The hurdle, Steege said, was actually a blessing in disguise.

“I spent September 2012 through April 2019 pregnant and/or nursing,” she said. “My husband Justin works in maintenance and was able to configure a commercially viable kitchen in our Wausau home. After some wrangling with the city regarding various regulations, I went to work without having to go far.”

As things began taking off, Steege said she quickly realized that selling wholesale and to restaurants might not be the best plan.

“My goal at the EEC was to do wholesale and sell to restaurants,” she said. “I had worked in a similar situation in my native Rockford, Illinois. Then, I started realizing what weddings could bring in, and that this is my thing.” 

With the reduced layers of product handling, as well as pricing and estimates, Steege said she could do about four weddings in a weekend. 

“One order could be anywhere from 700 to 1,400 (items),” she said. “Plus, I lost a lot of control when I dropped off orders at a restaurant – (from presentation to preparation quality to pricing). You can lose half of your money when someone else sells your product.”

In one instance, Steege said a restaurant wanted to double its menu price for her items, “which would play a role in how my product was consumed and perceived.” 

It was at that time, Steege said, that she recognized weddings were the way to go.

However, that, too, would soon present its own set challenges – thanks mostly to a global pandemic.

“Many (weddings got) canceled after COVID-19 hit in the spring of 2020,” she said.

Steege said the pandemic put a wrench in plans she had to move into a new location.

 “We had some money set aside and our youngest was starting pre-K,” she said. “I was anticipating a move into a new location right up until March 2020. We decided to keep our kids home.”

Having the commercial kitchen set-up in her home, Steege said she put a pin in the new location plan, and continued to work out of her home – like many other people during the first several months of the pandemic.

“Our business tripled that year,” she said. “We’d built up a good Facebook following, and we shared experiences. About 95% of our orders, we were able to put in a cooler on our front porch, and people could Venmo their payment.”

As things started to get back to normal, the plan to open a brick-and-mortar store resurfaced – though like many other steps along the way, Steege said it didn’t come without its own hurdles.

“While negotiating for a brick-and-mortar property, it sold right out from under us,” she said. “I wondered again if that simply wasn’t meant to be.”

But luck, Steege said, seemed to be on her side when a new property popped up.

“Justin said, ‘let’s try this one more (property),’” she said.

Steege said they were able to acquire the property – which was formerly Frostman’s Fish Market – for $150,000, and quickly got to work with renovations.

She said they transformed the former fish market into a warm, inviting café with optional outdoor seating and a warm-colored awning. 

The interior is filled with hand-crafted decor features, complemented by pops of color and greenery.

“We’re only using about a third of the space,” Steege said. “We are entertaining ideas for how to use the remainder. We want to use it for other business opportunities considering the handmade and hand-drawn crafts in the dining area.”

Sugar ‘n Spice Cheesecake & Coffee – located at 108 S. 2nd Ave. – is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The store is closed on Sundays.

For more information, visit or check out the shop’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

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