Two McGregor business owners are launching a new venture in hopes of giving aspiring chefs and entrepreneurs the opportunity to try their hand in the restaurant world.

But first, they have to get people to grasp the concept.

Cuppiecakes co-owners Branda Pavlas and Susie Hughlett said pop-up restaurants are fairly common in larger cities, and they hope their related concept will prove successful in McLennan County.

Sunnyside in McGregor, just a few doors down from Cuppiecakes, will feature different chefs on different days of the week throughout a given month. Pavlas said they have secured a few chefs already, and the interest usually comes after a little explaining.

There’s one thing that has become clear since the duo started discussing the idea with people, Pavlas said.

“We have the eaters. The eaters are not short,” she said. “There’s lots and lots of interest in that.”

The idea is to allow a chef to rent out the whole Sunnyside building at 313 Main St. on one day a week for a month to serve food. The options on how that proceeds are up to the chefs, Pavlas said. The chefs could create a walk-in eatery or reservation-only meal. They could bring in wait staff or add decorations to give the room a different flair on their days there. They could specialize in breakfast or coffee and desserts or anything in between.

Operating out of Sunnyside allows chefs to test the water in the business realm before having to secure their own storefront and commercial kitchen, Hughlett said. Chefs who rent out the location will have full access to the kitchen, various supplies, a walk-in freezer, and dining tables and chairs.

“A commercial kitchen is very costly. The things that go into opening a restaurant are very, very overwhelming,” Pavlas said. “It breaks our heart to see small businesses go out of business, because there’s a whole lot of overhead that no one understands until you’re doing it.”

The duo said they hope their venture will let potential entrepreneurs find a little direction before making the life-changing investment of opening a storefront with no experience.

Sunnyside will open to the public March 12, featuring McGregor residents Lindsey and Blake Reed.

Fields of Reeds will serve fresh, organic breakfast with homemade pastries, breads, omelets and more by reservation.

Lindsey Reed said the idea of having their own restaurant is scary, but she’s pushing forward with the enthusiasm and confidence her husband has developed in baking. Reed said her husband makes everything from scratch and just loves the process.

Blake Reed has spent the past year trying lots of eccentric combinations to create the perfect pastries and croissants. Lindsey Reed said her husband will do all the cooking, and she will handle all the administrative work. She said they plan on opening from 7 a.m. to noon Sundays in March and April and hope to add another day to the schedule.

She said the couple hope to eventually make this a full-time business.

McGregor resident Stella Johnson will reserve Friday nights in April to serve California cuisine. Johnson, born in California, said she is working on a menu that also features fresh foods with a Brazilian twist to be included by her co-pilot and friend, Brenda Verrotei, who is Brazilian.

Johnson said she had always talked with her husband about opening a bistro and came close while living in Portland. But then life happened, she said. She has seen the successes of other pop-up restaurants in cities across the nation and hopes the McGregor venture can tap into the same type of interest, Johnson said.

Cuppiecakes, which opened almost three years ago, has reached the capacity of its original kitchen, Pavlas said. The new venture will give them a little more breathing room and expand their investment in McGregor, they said.

There are no plans to move the Cuppiecakes storefront, though.

“We believe where we are right now in this place, it’s beautiful. It’s an amazing space, and it was just a gift from God,” Pavlas said. “There was just no way we could have built or built up what we got here. It’s been such a godsend to us. It was just kind of like the answer just became clear to both of us. We wanted to try to help other people realize the dream.”

Pavlas and Hughlett baked cupcakes out of their homes for three years to save money before they opened a storefront. They hope Sunnyside makes the process a little smoother for others to follow.

“There’s some pretty significant earning potential for them if they do it and do it right,” Pavlas said.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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