By Hadassah Deleveaux (née Hall)
Once in a while, in the heart of over-the-hill, arises a new business which proves someone’s confidence in the area and its people.
It occupies space that was once a shipping container. Pretty in blue with a pop of pink, this gem caught my attention as I was driving south long Miami Street, about to pass E. P. Roberts Primary School. What stood out were the colour and life-size donut atop the business. I immediately knew I had to find out more.
Carries Donuts is the name. It’s an artisan bakery and coffee shop in the Englerston area.
It’s certainly a treat that lights up the area and once you see it, you would definitely take a second look, feeling compelled to stop by. Carrie’s serves up sweet and savory treats, offering guava, pineapple and banana-infused fresh doughy donuts, cinnamon rolls, a Columbian Hazelnut roast coffee, hot chocolate, kolaches, breakfast burritos and even guava barbecue chicken and pork.
Since opening in December 2020, it took a while for people to buy into the business, but once they did, customers started coming from as near as Washington Street and Lincoln Boulevard, and as far away as Carmichael Road and Coral Harbour. And what makes Carrie’s donuts different is the fact their donuts are baked as opposed to fried.
Carrie is short for Caroline. She passed away 18 years ago and was mother to Nefitieri Moncur (New York), Joshua Sawyer (Dallas), Anwar Sawyer (Germany) and Tyrone Sawyer, who returned to The Bahamas in 2019 after residing in Atlanta for 16 years. He initially moved home to start a different business venture, but due to the covid-19 pandemic, that is on hold. Meantime, together, the family has found a way to honour their mother. She is certainly the pulse of the business. In fact, the business is not far from where she grew up through Seventh Street, The Grove. and where an aunt currently lives on Balfour Avenue.
“This is home base,” said Tyrone.
“We have always been a tight-knit family, but this has brought us even closer. Our mother was an amazing lady. That same energy she left behind, we just want to pay it forward. We take time to talk to the kids. We show the kids what can be done! When school is in, we always have a line after school. We can’t wait for school to reopen. It creates a whole vibe for the neighbourhood,” he added.
Tyrone’s sister, Nefitieri, manages the company’s social media pages and because of her astuteness in this area, even tourists visit the coffee shop, which is opened Mondays through Saturdays, 7 am to 4 pm.
“Once I see the SD vehicle, I know they’re about to stop,” said Tyrone.
“We offer a Columbian Hazelnut roast coffee that’s an authentic coffee. We’re small; we’re not Starbucks. We don’t have the same offerings, but we have a loyal customer base. Initially, we were just a bakery, but we expanded because of the taste preferences of the people in the neighbourhood. They wanted more,” he added.
In fact, Tyrone said not everyone was fond of the idea of opening an artisan bakery and coffee shop in the over the hill area.
“People called us ‘Crazy’ for it. Crazy because of when we started – during a pandemic. Others wanted us to sell tuna and grits, but within a 200 ft radius from us are five others selling tuna and grits,” said Tyrone.
“My wife, Jemima and I fell in love with donuts while in Dallas. On every corner were pastry and bakery shops in old neighbourhoods. There were little donut shops. For Carrie’s, people are stopping by just to get coffee in the mornings. It’s one of our best sellers,” said Tyrone.
Additionally, there is no doubt that 2020 was a disruptive year. While COVID-19 has been ferocious in its pursuit to level new businesses – and some have succumbed to its vicious attacks – amazingly, Carrie’s Donuts has not only popped up, but is thriving with its five employees.
What is even more exciting is that since people have been tasting the guava barbecue on the chicken and pork, the Sawyers have been approached by other companies about potential partnerships. Yes, doors are opening during the pandemic!
“We have a lot of people who used to live in Englerston, but they come to support. It’s more about people coming because once you have a good product, people smiling, a system of regular customers, the profit will come. For us, it’s not about the money. We’re not just here to take your money; we want to give back,”(Meanwhile), we want to create something that will last. It’s a community,” concluded Tyrone