Sisters opening new bake shop in Bartlett

Sisters Jami Harbin and Courtni Johnson are realizing their lifelong dream of opening a family restaurant business. In April, they will open the first brick-and-mortar Jaybear Bake Shop in Bartlett at 7124 U.S. Highway 64, Suite 103. 

The sisters have always naturally been drawn to bake cakes and treats for co-workers, and in 2014, they decided to launch Jaybear, a home-based business that catered to bridal showers, birthdays and other events. 

“We have a very close-knit family, and we’ve always talked about doing this and envisioned having a family restaurant,” said Johnson. “We’ve been around strong women and men in our family for years, and we’ve learned a lot of their secret recipes.”

The shop is named after the nickname of the sisters’ youngest nephew.

“We will be a true bake shop," said Johnson, who formerly worked as a corporate translator. “We like to bring in things from other cultures that we’ve experienced or where we have friends who have made some of these types of treats for us. I have a lot of friends from Mexico, Colombia, and Honduras."

The menu will include cupcakes, cakes, muffins, donuts, churros, brigadeiros (Brazilian chocolate truffles), macaroons, and more, with Southern favorites like sweet potato pie and unique creations. Coffee will come from local roaster J. Brooks, and the shop will also sell a gourmet fruit tea.

“If someone wants to hop in and grab a sweet bite on their way home, or if early in the morning you want to sit down and have coffee and read your paper, we will have some tables where people can do that,” said Harbin, who began her baking career by making Valentine’s Day treats in college.

Construction on the new 1,400-square-foot space should be completed by the end of this month, with a soft opening soon after.

Future plans for Jaybear include opening a stand-alone location somewhere in the Memphis area, as well as flagship locations in Nashville and Washington, D.C. If things go well, the idea of franchising a few locations is being considered.

“We have such a good following already, and I think that’s just going to increase,” said Harbin.

As business owners, their priority is to be active in the community by providing internships and scholarships for young people.

“You can change somebody’s day just by being kind to them and serving them,” said Johnson. “That’s one of the things that’s really important to me is to serve the community with sweets and a smile.”

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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