Photo by Rhea Falig/Fall River County Herald
Katie Brunson and Daughter Allie, pose together while preparing meals for customers at the Sweet and Sassy Pop Up Restaurant on Tuesday, June 25.
By Rhea Falig
EDGEMONT— Sweet and Sassy, a name familiar to many in the Edgemont area for their delicious catering, has branched off into a new venture that is feeding families and hearts in the community.
From small beginnings, Sweet and Sassy started in April of 2017 as a garden art, freezer food gourmet business and produce to now having expanded into meat bundle sales, catering, and most recently a pop up restaurant. Owner Katie Brunson said her business got its name from her ‘sweet and sassy’ personality.
“Sweet and Sassy is a super fitting name for myself, where I will do most anything for any person, family, or youth... before I give to myself,” Brunson said. “I value the smiles when you offer a product that you grew, at an affordable rate so families can eat healthy and locally. I am considered Sassy in the fact that I am a spitfire, and love dealing with all ages and walks of life...I am genuine but witty...and love to joke around with customers. I do have some fire in my soul to keep the conversation comical, or in times of need speak my mind.”
“We do many take-out orders, but having the addition of live music from 5 to 7 p.m. seems to draw more of an inside crowd,” she commented.
“In our rotation of talented musicians we have Frank Gregg, Kathy Corbett, and Pastor Rhea and Eric Falig of Bethel Church.”
Currently in their fourth week of operation, they serve food from 4 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday at the Edgemont Senior Center while live music from local artists plays as the background to great conversation.
“Once word traveled through social media, and the ranchers have tasted the quality of food being served, we are holding the same crowd, but seem to be getting newer community folks as well due to word of mouth about the great food, that is different than what can be ordered at the already existing food establishments,” Brunson added.
All the items being used in their food preparation is grown on the Brunson Ranch in Fall River County along with the meat, raised without added hormones. “We like to keep the meat as natural as we can. We raise grass fed beef and grain finished beef,” Brunson said. Customers get to choose between a variety of healthy meat options. The pork is grown from local 4-H kid Dylan Nyquist, and sold to Sweet and Sassy, along with their own eggs used in the baking of goods as well.
“All side salads are grown from our high tunnel, that operates year round in greens being produced. Soon we will have the same with tomatoes, in a geothermal hydroponics system,” Brunson added.
The business is family owned and operated. While Brunson is cooking in the kitchen you can find her son Emrey (6) and daughter Allie (10) helping with waitressing and busing tables with a smile on their face.
When asking Emrey Brunson if he planned on eating with everyone he smiled and responded with, “I’ll eat after everyone else does.” When a customer went to fill their own drink the six-year-old quickly rushed to help and said, “I’ll get it! I work here!”
Katie Brunson has also joined forces with a retired couple, Bob and Ruth Shannon, who had a BBQ meat restaurant business in Las Vegas with smoked meats. They teamed up at Farmers Market, and became close friends, and now share similar passions, according to Brunson.
Some other kind souls Brunson mentioned have been a help to her endeavor is Cindy Brunson, mother-in-law, who supports the Tuesday meal every week, and often times comes in to order her meals to go and helps out in the kitchen area.
Frank Gregg from the Senior Center checks on them every night before he leaves the establishment from dining with his wife. And Brunson’s mother recently made a trip across the state to see their restaurant in action which is where Brunson says her passion for food began.
“We have our summer meals planned through August, and then I go back to school. The community is in favor of making this a year long adventure... we as business owners are unsure the direction we will go,” Brunson added.
“It has been my life long passion to own and operate a food sort of restaurant or bakery, but I clearly see that in order to make money in food you need to produce in large volumes, and you need to dedicate your time as the business owner and pay the least help you can... that means you give up many freedoms to make the operation work. I think this will fill that passion, as one night a week takes three days of prep work and communication between the Shannons and myself, using a licensed kitchen to prep the meats in Rapid, and then marketing the business as well.”
Brunson added that the first two weeks they were able to make enough money to pay the operation costs of the kitchen rental, which is the fundraiser part to the Senior Center, their food costs, tips to their little helpers for their kitchen time, and a little extra for their time in the kitchen. “Bob Shannon commented that he would call the amount of food we served and money made a good night in his Las Vegas restaurant, so I feel we are on the right track.” Said Brunson. Adding, “We want to make the food of high quality, home grown as much as we can, unique to the palette, and affordable for all families and ages to enjoy.”
In July, they are closed the week of the fourth, but have chicken alfredo, dinner salad and garlic bread, roast beef dinner, smoked ribs, and brisket on the menu for the following week.
Brunson shared her appreciation to the community by saying, “Having the community support this one night a week adventure is uplifting and challenging. Many people have advice on how they would run a restaurant or how to make it better, and I am big on getting advice as a new entrepreneur and finding people with experience is valuable. With that said, it is high pressure as well... as we do not know how many people will walk though the door, and we do not have the next day to sell the leftover food...so we have to play it smart on how many meals we THINK we will sell tonight.”
The Pop Up Restaurant started out preparing for 40-50 people, and their brisket night they surpassed that and had to place a sign on the door that stating that they were out of food by 6:30 p.m. “When somebody who believes in Sweet and Sassy, supports the businesses whole heartedly and drives 30 miles into town for a meal, and we have nothing to serve... it is quite traumatizing,” Brunson shared.
“It is our goal to get the kitchen at the Senior Center, Department of Health Commerically Inspected and up to code for my business to use full time.” Brunson said. The idea was proposed to Brunson from a customer who ate at one of her catering events at Nuts and Bolts. Lyle Rudloff set up a business meeting with Frank Gregg, who runs the Senior Center, to promote a way to add more funds to the Senior Center yearly budget.
“He liked my food, the Senior Center was looking for a way to use the building in a way that is open to the community and helps their pocket...and so the brainstorming began. And the Senior Center has a kitchen that is operable for our needs, but not a commercial kitchen where I can use for my gourmet freezer food business yet, hence why I drive to Rapid City where I have my licensed kitchen to cook anything protein based and that I sell to customers, that is inspected by the Department of Health,” Brunson shared in regards to future plans.
Sweet and Sassy caters all the trainings and classes held by the Gun Vault and the local sewing ladies who meet on Saturday at Nuts and Bolts have them cater their meals once a month. They will also have a booth at the Edgemont Farmers Market, which Brunson oversees. As well as a booth at the Hot Springs Farmers Market which Brunson sits on as a board member as well.
“We have been asked to become a vendor at the Oelrichs Butte Festival July 27, catering the class reunion of 69 during Achievement Days, and perhaps having tent site at the Hill City BBQ Cook Off sponsored in August,” Brunson said of possible upcoming events.
Adding, “I admire my followers who support my crazy adventures in all avenues I decide to spread my wings and try.... I never close any doors, and love listening to what others have to make my business more well rounded or more successful. Earleene and Jerry Kellogg have taking me in under their wing and mentored many of my decisions with where the business goes... and you will find a freezer of my homemade gourmet foods at their business, Nuts and Bolts, our large cooler and freezer for holding meats and vegetables are there for sale, along with salsas and jams we make. They handle my customers, collect the money in an envelope, and this all works out for us. We both give and take to each other... and so far it is all working out, as I teach for my full-time job and cannot be available with my items when others are in town for purchasing,” Brunson said.
Local musician Kathy Corbett said of the Pop Up Restaurant, “Katie offers unique meals that are well prepared and delicious. She thinks of good combinations. The Indian Tacos and Root Beer Floats were amazing! The live music from 5-7 adds even more flavor!”