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There’s a new temptation at The Strand shopping center in North Naples.

Suga Suga Naples opened in mid-January. The family business promises delectable sweets, sandwiches and baked goods with a European flair, according to Jurgen Cura, who operates the shop with his mother, Suela Cura.

“The business started with my mom, who was a teacher in Albania and a great home cook, baker and chef. We also lived in Italy for a while. All the recipes are her creations, developed over the years,” said Cura.

“I came to the U.S. from Albania in 2017 and settled alone in Connecticut. I worked in the restaurant business at various restaurants, in positions ranging from busboy to server to kitchen, for some seven and a half years. I became experienced in restaurant operations and learned how to work with suppliers, payment systems and the rules and regulations of the food industry.”

Relatives from Australia—an aunt and a cousin—settled in Naples and loved it. At their strong urging, and tired of the northern cold and snow, Cura moved to join his extended family in Naples last summer.

“In the meantime, my mother continued to bake for friends and relatives, and my aunt asked why she hadn’t gone into business. So, my mother decided to move to Naples in September 2023. I had a lot of information about how the restaurant business worked, so we joined forces with her as an investor and opened the coffee shop and bakery,” Cura said.

After finding an available space at The Strand and negotiating with the former owners, they struck a deal for the former second location of Carole’s House Cafe and French Bakery, which still operates its first location in East Naples.

“We liked the core interior—it had a great vibe—and we didn’t have to do too much renovation. We added shelving and some rearrangement of the kitchen layout. My aunt knew of a coffee shop in Albania with the name ‘Suga Suga’ and always liked it. She suggested it, and we thought it was catchy and went with the name,” said Cura.

As far as menu offerings, the restaurant has “a little bit of everything,” said Cura. Eastern European influences are evident from the cakes and baked goods under the heading Viennoiseries, a French word for baked goods in the style of Vienna. Find croissants in chocolate and almond fillings, salads, traditional Italian sandwiches, Greek spanakopita and quiches.

“We just added tres leches, a favorite Spanish milk cake we make with our twist. Dedicated to using the best ingredients, we import caramel, flowers and sugar from Europe. We want to serve high-quality food items that the more discriminating customers in this part of Naples look for and can appreciate,” Cura said.

“We make cookies, cakes and birthday cakes, including lemon sponge cakes, tiramisu platters, apple strudel and a dessert with phyllo sheets filled with pastry cream—a passion fruit and mango filling.”

Cura said he is now test-driving personal- sized pizzas made with a sourdough base that is easier to digest and high in hydration, which doesn’t leave you thirsty after eating. A relative from New York will be living in Naples in about a month, and the shop will be able to offer pop-up pizza events weekly.

“A popular menu item is Burek—phyllo dough layers stuffed with caramelized onions, spinach, feta cheese and egg mixture. [It’s] known and well-liked by the local community of Eastern Europeans. A lot of Americans are also loving it. You have to try it,” said Cura.

He echoed the sentiments of other small business owners regarding the trials and satisfaction of running a business.

“It is a challenge finding staff. We look for those who not only want just to work, but who will greet you and get to know you. When visiting a neighborhood coffee shop, you have a little conversation while somebody’s making your coffee—a more personal interaction—so we look for staff with personality who will make a good impression, as well as good coffee,” he said.

“As far as the rewards of owning a business, the main thing is that no matter where I work, I always give 100%. I don’t just try to get the job done; I put all my effort into it. Now that I am doing a job for myself, I put in 250% effort, as I know I am not working for somebody else but building something for myself.”

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