By BONNIE BAILEY
Yearning for a sweet treat? If pralines, cookie dough, or truffles are your thing, Downtown Sweet is the shop for you. Opened only three months ago on the Jonesborough square, Downtown Sweet offers a variety of treats to satisfy your sweet tooth, but they consider pralines their specialty.
“Lots of people have left saying, ‘These are better than in Savannah!’ or ‘These are better than in New Orleans!’” Davy Funderburk, owner of the sweet shop, said.
Funderburk and his wife, Laura, both natives of Louisiana, opened Downtown Sweet together after moving to East Tennessee almost a year ago.
“We moved here without any promise of a job, with no real connections… but the Lord has provided what we needed as we go,” Funderburk said. “It’s a beautiful town and people are very friendly.”
The Funderburks began by selling their treats online and wholesaling to shops in Jonesborough after the move, then got the opportunity to open their own shop when Earth & Sky Confections left the Jonesborough square. The Funderburks set up Downtown Sweet at Earth & Sky’s former location.
Downtown Sweet has a different feel and “flavor” from their predecessor’s sweet shop, however, Funderburk said.
“Earth & Sky that was here before had phenomenal chocolates that were very artistically done, and we decided to go with a more casual, rustic, hand-rolled approach, so that’s kind of the flavor (of the shop), and that’s our flavor too,” Funderburk said. “We’re those kind of people. Everything’s very high quality, but kind of informal.”
The Funderburks have many plans for the shop’s future. Currently, Downtown Sweet offers six varieties of truffles, all made with fine Belgian chocolate, but they are working to expand that to nine varieties, and they hope to include vegan and dairy-free options. For the time being, only their milk and dark chocolates are Fair Trade, but a search is underway for a source for Fair Trade white chocolate. They are also working on adding pricing and packaging for those who would like to use their truffles as wedding and party favors.
In addition to truffles and pralines, Downtown Sweet offers handmade ice cream sandwiches, a cool treat for a hot summer day, and a unique snack: edible chocolate chip cookie dough, which is eaten with a spoon right out of a cup. The cookie dough is egg-free and made with pre-cooked flour, and it has been so popular they are considering adding more flavors.
The shop is very much family-oriented, Funderburk said, not only because it is family-owned but also because of the sweets produced behind the counter. Downtown Sweet’s praline recipe comes from Laura Funderburk’s grandfather, and the tea cakes, another shop favorite, are a recipe from Laura Funderburk’s mother.
“The tea cakes are a very simple cookie, but we have people who come in just for those,” Funderburk said.
The cookies are lightly sweet with an icing that holds a hint of almond.
“Even the chocolate chip cookies, my dad and I used to make those,” Funderburk said. “I’ve just tweaked the recipe a little bit.”
The Funderburk children are even involved in the family business. They help out around the shop, assisting with cleaning, baking, and displays. 14-year-old Isaac Funderburk assists in managing the store.
“He helps me a lot,” Funderburk said. “He helps me keep the shelves stocked and things looking nice. Whenever we make something, he packages it and keeps the displays full. My second oldest helps with some of the cookies… and then number three, he waters the flowers and opens the door for people.”
Funderburk said it is helpful to have a store that is a nice place for the entire family.
“I have five children. My three older boys come with me pretty much every morning… it’s just nice to have a safe place where they can kind of be in and out of the shop.”
The Jonesborough square is a wonderful place to be, Funderburk said.
“I think the biggest perk has been being a part of downtown and meeting people,” Funderburk said, adding that it is especially fun during festivals and other busy times. “It makes you feel like you’re a part of something. It’s fun to be a part of the fabric of the community.”
Funderburk said he enjoys talking to everyone who comes into the shop, and he’s had a great time getting to know the surrounding merchants, all of whom have given Downtown Sweet a warm welcome.
“We like being a part of people’s lives,” Funderburk said. “That sounds lofty, but it’s true.”
Downtown Sweet is located at 137 East Main St. and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit the Downtown Sweet Facebook or Instagram page or www.downtownsweet.com.