Deandra Miller always wanted to open her own bakery. Her mother’s dream was to open a coffee house. The two have come together in Sweet Delicates, a new Clovis bakery and coffee house that also sells Portuguese baked goods and specialty items.
Miller began making custom cakes out of her home after moving to Clovis from New York, where she worked for a Manhattan nonprofit. Unemployed and in a new town, she saw an opportunity to start something new. She spent a couple of years building up a loyal clientele, dreaming about opening a place where she could sell her baked goods, but knowing it would be difficult financially. “It’s so expensive to actually get anything started,” she said. Then, her father presented her with a gift.
“He decided, last year, to take out his 401K and surprised me with that. My clientele was building up so quickly and doing it from home is more difficult ... He saw that there was potential so we decided to expand on that and do the coffee and a little pastry shop with the Portuguese specialties.”
Miller, who is Portuguese, lived in Portugal between the ages of 10 and 20. Although she lived in Lisbon, and many Valley Portuguese are from “the islands” (the Azores), she knew there was a market here for Portuguese items. “There are no Portuguese [bakeries] around here,” she said. “The Portuguese community either has to go to Hanford, Hilmar or Tulare.”
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Sweet Delicates opened in December of last year in the Dollar General shopping center off of Bullard and Minnewawa avenues. It’s a family affair, with Miller and boyfriend Brandon Tinsley (who is also a graphic designer) running the show. Her 12-year-old son, David, helps out behind the counter on weekends.
Miller and Tinsley are self-taught bakers. “I had maybe two months of culinary school,” she laughed, “but I had my daughter so I wasn’t able to finish.” The Portuguese recipes, she said, are ones she learned while living in Portugal. Others are refined through trial and error.
“It’s so easy to try a recipe and if it works and comes out right, just start making it,” she said. “Everything we do here is self-taught. We could get it imported and just make it from frozen, but I love to cook and I love to bake.
“He,” she continued, gesturing to Tinsley, “never baked in his life. I taught him how to do the breads. My grandmother taught me and I taught him, and he’s the one who does the breads now. He does the cinnamon rolls from scratch as well as the sweet breads on weekends.”
Sweet Delicates’ Portuguese treats include queijada, a coconut custard and more savory coxinhas, which are potato and chicken croquettes. Some Portuguese specialties, like linguica bread, are available daily. The popular sweet bread — Sweet Delicates sells four varieties — is currently available only on Saturdays. However, Miller said, customers can place special orders if they would like it during the week.
Non-Portuguese pastries, like brownies and fruit tarts, also fill the bakery cases. In a nod to her mother’s dream of owning a coffee shop, customers can also order coffee (including cold brew from Lanna Coffee Co.), flavored espresso drinks and Numi teas. Miller said she hopes to eventually carry locally-produced whole leaf teas.
In addition to the pastries and beverages, the bakery sells specialty items like Portuguese linguica, cod, chorizo, cheeses and grocery items. Miller works with a San Jose-based importer to get the groceries, and responds to her clients’ feedback. “We’re trying to build up a good supply of products they can come in and get on a daily basis,” she said.
Since opening, she said, both the local Portuguese community and the Clovis community in general — particularly other small business owners — have embraced Sweet Delicates. Many of her private clients followed here to her new location. She also got a huge boost, she said, when Old Town boutique The Foundry Collective raved about Sweet Delicates on social media.
Eventually, Miller said, she would love to host small live shows and expand to offer Portuguese lunch specialties. She sees potential for small business owners like herself to thrive in Clovis, and is excited to be part of the local business community that has shown her so much support.
“Clovis has a great community,” she said. “We came in trying to bring something different to the area, kind of let people know that what everyone can get in (Fresno’s) Tower District can probably be expanded on here in Clovis. I think it’s got potential; you’re starting to see a lot more of that vibe open up here. It’s really cool. There’s a lot of potential for small businesses to grow. You’ve just got to be able to put something out there that’s different.”
50 W. Bullard Ave., Clovis