Twenty Years and Counting...

If there is one thing to know about Shuga’s in downtown Colorado  Springs, it’s that they can’t help but be true to themselves.  

They will celebrate their 20th birthday on December 20, 2021. That is one heck of a golden birthday. 

This is one place that has never needed to “reinvent” itself.

It just is.  

Roughly twenty years ago, an ambitious Alexius Weston introduced the  concept of Shuga’s essentially to create a comfortable, hip coffee bar in  southern downtown when there wasn’t one. What they created was a movement. Shuga’s took an old corner grocery store, created a space  for itself and then began filling out that space day by day. Its retro-chic  vibe simply took root. Gifted glassware from grandma’s estate and cute, mystery chairs that appear on the doorstep have worked their way into  the fiber of this place.  

Everything is intentional here, and the staff are no exception. They value themselves as diversity focused and an inclusive alternative experience to the rest of the restaurant world. Experience isn’t always what nails an interview.

“It’s not just a job,” owner Kevin Dexter emphasizes, “it’s a culture.” 

The atmosphere is ever changing, but highly personal. 

The flock of cranes in the main dining area have been a staple for years, but what even regulars might not know is that the flock migrates every year and are replaced with a new flock. It is a team-building activity of sorts and many of the staff are experts at folding the little origami birds.

“This place is very much a canvas,” says Dexter. With exceptions like the “In Vino Veritas” wall mural and the iconic white cubist cat statue, a.k.a. "the Shuga's Cat," everything is fair game to the artist’s hand. 

When the pandemic hit, restaurants struggled. In reflecting on what that  year looked like for Shuga’s, Dexter simply states, “it gave us the  opportunity to switch gears... we’ve been several different businesses over the last year.” 

And how. 

When they needed outdoor space and other restaurants began erecting igloos or outdoor patios, Shuga’s invested in an authentic tipi. But, of course, not just any tipi. It is the biggest one they could find at 30 feet in diameter. Dexter goes on to explain the research that went into the decision, indicating what a brilliant structure it is. He notes how it can be cooled and heated and that the positive air flow is actually a perfect system for the times we are experiencing now.    

If you know, you know. 

Patrons find themselves in a tight spot between wanting to tell everyone about this little gem and at the same time, wanting to keep it all to themselves.  

Their menu changes seasonally, but favorite delicious centerpieces are here to stay, such as almond butter cake, lemon-ginger tea, and the famous spicy Brazilian coconut shrimp soup, a crown jewel that pairs well with everything. Shuga's food and cocktail menus are inspired by travel and tastes of the world, but they also include some home recipes.  

Dexter recalls a time that family was in town to visit. He mentioned that  he needed a seasonal dressing for one of the salads and explained  what he was looking for–he then put mom to work on creating the  perfect dressing.

“Shuga's comes from people who love great food and  drink,” he says. “We are about delicious, authentic food and drink made with care and consistency.” And sometimes, quite literally, mom’s home cooking.

Website: https://www.shugas.com/
Facebook: @shugasbar
Instagram: @shugasrestaurant

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