To date, I've posted interviews from family and friends who knew the "original" days of The Dessert Place restaurants. Today, I'm featuring a fan who has only known the new Dessert Place 2.0.
Sarah Barjum (Barj, as I call her) and I met at the very beginning of Freshman year of college when we played for the University of Michigan Women's Club Soccer team. Little did I know she'd still be such an integral part of my life over a decade later. Although we now live states apart (she in Michigan and I in Georgia), we stay in constant contact and travel together often.
While Barj was born and raised in a completely different country (the beautiful land of Honduras), we still like to think that we're long lost sisters. I often see a picture of her and think it's me. Relatives or not, Barj has been so supportive of my entrepreneurial adventures. When I quit my job and wanted to travel a bit before (re)launching The Dessert Place, Barj simply said: "Count me in...where are we going?" Colombia and Iceland became our destinations last summer. When she came to visit me in Atlanta a few months ago, she told me weeks ahead of time that she insisted on baking or helping me with The Dessert Place in some way. And, like any new person who tries our famous Cream Cheese Brownies, she can't get enough of our CCBs!
Here's a look through Barj's eyes at our friendship and her experience with The Dessert Place:
Q: Do you remember the first time that we met?
A: I won’t say exactly how many years ago that was, but it’s been a while (yikes we are getting old!). I must have met you the first day of soccer trials for the U-M Club team but there were so many people there that I can’t really remember. The first memory of us hanging out was during our soccer initiation night, I think that is the first time we really bonded. I am pretty sure we were both rushing to catch the very last bus to North Campus together - the first of many.
University of Michigan Women's Club Soccer Team
Q: As you remember it, how did we transition from teammates to friends?
A: Somewhere between being the only freshmen at the bars and our mutual love for Grey’s Anatomy, we became the closest friends. Every Thursday night, after soccer practice, we would run back to our separate dorms to get ready to go out. I would come and meet you at your room (you were never ready) right before 9:00 pm so we could watch Grey’s together and pre-game for the night. Your roommate must have hated us! Then we would try and catch the 10:05 pm bus that would drop us off right by our favorite bar. At the end of our night, we would both - yet again - be running like crazy ladies throughout campus trying to catch the last bus to our dorms. It became our tradition. To this day, we try and watch Grey’s together as much as we can. (Side note: The walk back to the dorms was at least 45 mins and very dark. So we would make sure our butts were on that bus).
Q: We used to cook a lot of meals together when we lived together in college (in the same house with 9 other girls). Did you ever think I'd be running a bakery business?
A: I think you are being very generous with the word “cook”. Hahaha I think we survived solely on the Special K Strawberry cereal and Amy’s frozen mini pizza pockets. How the house did not burn down that year is beyond me (I am looking at you, Robin, with that burnt bacon every morning)! But to answer your question: no, never in my life did I picture you as a baker. But I did see you running your own business one day.
Q: When did you first hear about The Dessert Place?
A: I remember you telling me your mom used to own a dessert shop, but I always thought it was something small. I had no idea it was such a big deal. Good thing I didn’t know about those brownies or I would have asked for many care packages from Sheryl!
Q: What were your thoughts when I told you I was quitting my corporate job to bring back The Dessert Place?
A: If I am being honest, I was a little worried, but also very excited for you. I was very happy to find out that you had found something you were very passionate about. I was also glad to see you back in Atlanta and was very relieved knowing that Sheryl and Stu would be there to help you start things. I was a little worried only because I know how hard/scary starting your own business can be (plus I had yet to try the brownies). But at the end of the day, I was very proud!
Q: When was the first time that you tried a Cream Cheese Brownie? What were your thoughts?
A: I think it was last year around Valentine’s day. I came to visit you in Atlanta and walked into batches and batches of brownies. I must have gained 10 pounds that weekend. I could not put them down! I knew I had to take some back to Alex (my husband) - BIG mistake.
Q: I hear you have to hide your Cream Cheese Brownies in your home...can you share why?
A: Alex is now more obsessed with CCBs than I am. Every time I come home with brownies or order some, he eats them and doesn’t leave me a piece! So I had started to hide them but I swear he is part hound dog- he can sniff them out.
Q: Original CCB or Peanut Butter CCB....which would you choose?
Q: What's your favorite way to eat a CCB?
A: I like them frozen. They become kind of like fudge, chewy.
Q: And just for fun, what's your favorite place that we've traveled together?
A: This is the toughest question (you are making me pick one out of the 13 countries that we have done together?)! I would say that my favorite was Iceland. I loved the hiking and taking millions of goofy pictures. I can always remember how hard we were all laughing after I tried to do a barrel roll and failed miserably. I just couldn’t stop smiling the entire trip!
One of 1,000,000 pictures taken of us in Iceland
Q: And a favorite specific memory from our travels?
A: One of my favorite memories is when we got lost in Vienna and ran out of money to pay our tab. We had spent all day at a pub watching the World Cup games (Honduras was playing for the first time ever!) and trying to complete the drinking around the world challenge. However, they did not accept credit cards and we did not have enough cash. Somehow you charmed our way out of it. I remember trying to find our hostel on the dripping wet map and trying to find something to eat with no more money in our pockets. I still have that shirt we “won” at the bar for completing the challenge. I will have to frame it one day. In case you all are wondering, the next morning was very rough…
Though we couldn't pay the bill, we befriended the owner of the bar in Vienna, Austria. He even gave us these T-Shirts to remember our time there.
Finding our way back home in the rain after many beers proved to be quite difficult.
Q: Anything else you'd like to share?
A: Hmm… Just to keep me in mind as a taste tester when a new product is coming out. I’ll make a special trip down to Atlanta if I absolutely have to.
And finally, a few more photos:
Our college days
We love going to Michigan football games together
Hanging by the London Bridge
Adventuring on the islands of Honduras - Barjum's homeland. Pretty sure I was meant to grow up in a tropical land as well.
Exploring the beautiful streets of Cartagena, Colombia
Standing on top of a crater in Iceland
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