Albemarle Sweet Shop breaks ground on new location

After first publicizing its intentions about moving in January, Albemarle Sweet Shop took a major step this week in relocating its business from King Avenue to a new building at 310 S. Second St.

The shop officially broke ground on its new building on Monday. It will the located on a vacant lot between the post office and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

“For me and my family and the business, ‘monumental’ is a good word to describe it,” said owner Shawn Oke about starting the construction. “It’s such a huge step for us as a family, for the business and for downtown.”

Oke is looking forward to seeing how the new building impacts the community and will hopefully help inspire other businesses to come to the downtown area.

“I hope we can be a catalyst for other buildings downtown,” he said.

Sweet Shop owner Shawn Oke plans to have the new location open in the first half of 2023. Photo courtesy of Shawn Oke.

The new building should be open by May, if not earlier, Oke said, and the current location should stay open for most of the construction.

“If I have anything to do with it, it will be as minimal as possible,” Oke said about closing the King Avenue location and opening the new one. “I’m hoping that we can close on Saturday, get enough stuff moved over there, and open it back up on Tuesday.”

The building will be about 5,000 square feet, larger than the King Avenue spot. Oke estimates the lobby will be about three times as big, including at least another 12 feet of case space.

“We’re going to have a lot more expandability than we have now,” Oke said.

The biggest thing he wants customers to know is that the business is taking “the foundation of what the past 100 years of the Sweet Shop created and we’re just building upon it. What brought us to where we are today is not going anywhere, but we’re going to build on it and add to it.”

In addition to the larger location, there will be indoor and outdoor seating, including a patio area, and the business wants to expand the menu to include items like coffee drinks.

“We’re just trying to make it next level in terms of what the bakery wants to be,” Oke said.

The Sweet Shop is working with Charlotte-based architect Peadon Finein to “capture as much history as possible in the new building,” according to a January Facebook post, noting the building design from 1922 “has been our model for designing our new building.” The old wooden flooring from the current building has also been removed with the plan to utilize it in the lobby of the new location, Oke said.

The business is also working with a company from New York to rebuild and move the 1959 and 1954 ovens to the new location “so we can ensure our products continue to be baked in the ovens that have baked them for years.”

Much of the construction will be carried out by local businesses, which was important for Oke. Stokes Construction is the general contractor, and Moore’s Grading, Pate Masonry Supply and Uwharrie Bank are also involved.

“We are working hard to make sure that we use the people here in town that use us so that we continue that cycle of, our money becomes their money and then their money comes back and then becomes our money,” Oke said.

While the Sweet Shop will be changing, Oke hopes the feelings of joy and comfort that the business has evoked in customers for the past 100 years will remain strong.

“The history of the Sweet Shop and what it means to people is so important,” he said, especially “being able to come into a place and just forget about all the troubles of the world and grab a piece of sweet goodness that brings back some memories of days gone by.”