When we last spoke to Audrey Zybala, owner of Sweet Pea Bakery in Hamburg, she was telling us about how teamwork and community were helping her and her business get through the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past year, Zybala has not only managed to keep her bakery afloat, she’s actually been thriving — to the point she’s opening a new lakefront restaurant along Route 5 in Hamburg.
“My team at Sweet Pea is what allowed that business to stay up and running, while we then made the crazy leap to opening a new place too,” she told us in a recent phone interview.
With Sweet Pea digging into a solid footing, the coveted lakefront property that used to house the Bedrock Eatery and then the Bedrock became available. Zybala said she knew she had to jump on it, quick.
“We knew the opportunity wouldn’t be there for long,” she stressed. “We knew somebody else would go in there and buy that property. We felt really strongly that we knew what we wanted to do with it, and that the residents of the Southtowns could really use what we planned on doing. So we just sort of went for it.”
The Hamburg lakefront has long been home to a number of established restaurants, most notably Red Top, Hoak’s Restaurant and Rodney’s On the Lake. Zybala said she hopes to stand out from these legacy restaurants by building her menu around small plates of contemporary items, including different types of sliders, risotto, gnocchi and flatbreads.
In keeping with the more contemporary food menu, Lago will offer a boozy brunch, with brunch specific cocktails and food items, including shrimp and grits; biscuits and gravy; and chicken and waffles.
Another major Southtowns differentiator is Lago’s impressive wine list. A scan of the opening wine list will reveal very few bottles from your corner liquor store.
“It’s definitely an interest of mine and my husband’s,” Zybala told us. “We just kind of said: Well, we have an opportunity to really develop an incredible wine program at a Southtowns restaurant and give a unique perspective on something that can be daunting for some customers and lackluster at times for other customers.
“So, our goal is to make the wine program accessible to the novice drinker, but also have a reserve list that has some pretty great wines on it, which I think even the most particular wine drinker can get onboard with.”
With ships sailing by and sunlight dappling the water just a stone’s throw from her restaurant, Zybala has looked to take full advantage of the location. The property has 500 feet of lakefront and this space is available to guests. Depending on the weather, an abridged menu is available for beach dining. In the evening, fireside dining is also available around an outdoor firepit, with a reservation and $50 deposit required.
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