Pop music dances around the room as Katy Perry, Rihanna, Gerald Butler and other pop culture icons with lollipops in hand smile coyly down at everyone who steps into Sugar Factory’s new location in Rosemont, Ill.
Their photos decorate the walls of the store, and their flashy, star-studded images embody what the Sugar Factory is all about.
And nowhere is image more apparent than in the company’s signature line of Couture Pops — lollipops with glitzy handles often endorsed by celebrities. Kim Kardashian made headlines in 2011 when she unveiled her specially made diamond-studded Couture Pop worth $1 million, proving candy can indeed find its place on the red carpet.
Luckily, her half-sisters Kylie and Kendall Jenner’s current Couture Pop offerings, at $25, are more accessible to those of us without $1 million to spend on candy. But don’t be fooled by the price, the pops don’t sacrifice the shimmer and glam that defines the family. The Kylie & Kendall series includes pop handles in black diamond and gray sparkle. Britney Spears, Nicole Scherzinger and Mel B also have their own designs for sale.
The Rosemont location, like the locations in New York, Las Vegas and Miami, splits its space between retail and dining. In the restaurant area, more celebrities greet visitors from behind the bar, but their lollipops are mostly replaced by desserts. For example, Cee Lo Green and Dennis Rodman can be seen enjoying Sugar Factory’s World-Famous King Kong Sundae — an epic creation of 24 scoops of ice cream and a multitude of toppings, including lollipops of course, accompanied by fireworks, candles and fanfare from the servers.
But despite its name, the company doesn’t only cater to pop culture fanatics with a sweet tooth.
The restaurant is a success in its own right, without relying on gimmicks to try to match the star-studded sugar of the retail side.
With an American-French bistro look, glam elements are still present in the dining room, such as the chandeliers that light the ceiling, but the color scheme forgoes the bright hues of the candy store in favor of black and white. The menu does include a long list of sugary drinks (including the popular “Goblet,” a large cocktail with flavors such as lollipop passion, white gummi and energy bear) and desserts, but the main fare is a more-standard selection of comfort food. Some of the most popular choices on the Rosemont menu are the grilled salmon and the signature burger.
The new opening in the Chicago suburbs, a 10-minute drive from the city’s O’Hare International Airport, represents a homecoming of sorts for Sugar Factory co-owner Charissa Davidovici, who is from the Chicago area.
The space is also a return to the look of the original flagship store, with a similar layout and design.
Located in the MB Financial Park along with other restaurants and activity centers such as a movie theater, a bowling alley, indoor skydiving and a comedy club, Sugar Factory is another stop on an entertaining outing.
“It’s just a perfect venue,” says general manager Anna Finnegan. “The Park offers so much.”
The fun atmosphere and Hollywood ties also draw people in. “People are always asking who comes here,” Finnegan remarks.
Though the Chicago suburb may not be bursting with celebrity appearances quite yet, there’s always that chance — Sugar Factory is a trendy spot for the A-list elite, as shown by the photos on the walls and the product collaborations. And the celebrity sightings have helped highlight the brand.
“Especially since we’re new, we’re trying to figure out what people want,” Finnegan says.
She is working to expand the retail section, with hopes of eventually offering cookies and cupcakes as well. Davidovici knows it’s also important to establish a loyal customer base; while some people may come just for the novel concept at first, it’s common to make a return trip. “Once you go, you go back.”
Visitors’ penchant to return stems in part to the personal nature of the restaurant.
It’s not only celebrity guests who are recognized; Finnegan and the servers make an effort to communicate with the guests and learn their names so they can be remembered when they come back.
There are also plans in Rosemont to create an 8-ft. statue of a duck, the company’s symbol.
“The duck is our mascot, she’s our queen,” Davidovici says. “Who doesn’t love a rubber ducky?”
Ducks are already present throughout the store on packaging and tables in the retail side. The owner says her goal to make everyone happy, and with this fun motif she hopes to truly reach everyone.
“The brand is not just for children, not just for adults and not just for celebrities either,” Davidovici asserts.
Sugar Factory blends the line between youthful and adult in both retail and dining.
Finnegan explains how families like to take kids there to Sugar Factory. Aside from the children’s excitement over candy, the restaurant atmosphere is ideal — because it isn’t a quiet setting, parents “don’t feel like their child is causing trouble.”
And although Sugar Factory is “family-friendly first,” that doesn’t mean adults can’t have some fun of their own. The Rosemont location has two bars with a 4 a.m. liquor license and it’s a popular spot for bachelorette parties.
“The vibe here at night especially is very positive,” Finnegan says. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Retail also has products targeted toward Sugar Factory’s more mature customers.
Throughout its stores, the company recently launched a collaboration with Playboy, which introduces Playboy Couture Pops, bunny gummy ears, candy lingerie and a candy pail featuring the signature Playboy bunny.
“Sugar Factory has reinvented what a confectionary brand should be,” says Matt Nordby, Playboy president of global licensing. “Playboy loves innovative concepts, which is why Sugar Factory is the perfect partner for us to add a sweet and colorful element to the Rabbit Head.”
The novelty of theSugar Factory brand is becoming more and more popular for adults and kids alike. And the Rosemont location is just the start of its infiltration into the Midwest — the company hopes to set up shop in downtown Chicago and expand to a number of cities across the country and across the world.
“With our company, there’s so much to do, it’s endless,” Davidovici says. “Our goal is to get Sugar Factory to reach everybody, all walks of life.”