From October through May, you could find Sassy Tarts at just about every farmers market in the area, selling (and often selling out) of sweet and savory pies, pastries and quiches. Owner/chef Stephanie Brocard Albin is self-taught and bakes everything herself.
“Our customers kept asking us where can we find you in the summer?” said Brocard Albin. Craving a bit of stability and the kitchen of her dreams, she began looking for a storefront and settled on Englewood, which she saw as a mid-point for her customers from Boca to Venice and Wellin Park (formerly West Villages), where Brocard Albin lives with her husband Darel Albin and son Nicholas.
In March, when all the farmers’ markets were closed down, Brocard Albin’s big decision to open a shop proved to be a smart one. She had planned to open Sassy Tarts on May 1, but COVID-19 put back the opening to June 2. Since her business would be primarily take-out and staffed by mostly family, Brocard Albin didn’t have as many issues as other restaurants and food shops. She had originally planned to have chairs and high tops inside, but now the bright open room has only four tables and outdoor seating where customers can enjoy their treats and coffee.
Brocard Albin, 46, was born in France and grew up in restaurants owned by her parents, Jean-Pierre and Paula, who work with her now. The family moved to the U.S. when Brocard Albin was six, but you can see and taste the French influence in her baked goods, boasting fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese and lots of real butter. She fills her shop with a variety of croissants, individual and whole pot pies, quiches and dessert pies, Danish and breads. The selection changes all the time based on what fruits are in season, special orders and customer suggestions. Brocard Albin begins baking about 3 am and when it looks like she might run low on a particular tart or quiche, she can often just walk through the door to the kitchen and bake some more.
Sandra Geissler showed up at Sassy Tarts the day it opened and has been returning ever since. “Everything is so good, and they like butter,” said Geissler. On this day she chose a pecan pie. “It’s not like most pecan pies that are too sweet,” she said. “We needed this for a long time.”
Mary Soper of Placida confessed that she comes to Sassy Tarts at least twice a week for a mix of sweet and savory pies. “It’s all delicious,” she said examining the pastry case, before settling on a chicken curry pot pie and muffins. “I used to weigh 80 pounds,” she joked.
Brocard Albin said she hasn’t done any advertising but on a Saturday afternoon there was a steady flow of repeat customers and the curious. She says that her customers are finding her by word of mouth, social media and especially Facebook where people post photos of the treats they purchased.
Mary Anderson is one of those customers. Anderson said she read about Sassy Tarts on Facebook and stopped by when she was pet sitting in Rotonda. “It’s a beautiful shop and everyone is so friendly,” she said. She’s been back several times, picking up croissants, quiche and her favorite, one of Sassy Tarts’ newest offerings, cannoli pie. Anderson then shared her Sassy Tarts love with the 2,800 members on the Restaurant Reviewers of Englewood Facebook page.
Brocard Albin is focusing on her shop, but said Sassy Tarts will be back in the farmers markets in October. While she admits it does feel a bit strange to be working all summer, she said she couldn’t be happier settling in Englewood. “As a new business we always worry, but we had faith in the community, and everyone has been so supportive. It was meant to be.”
Sassy Tarts is located at 5855 Placida Road in Rotonda Plaza. Hours are 7 am to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday. Call 941-214-5218 for more information and special orders.
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