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DOING BUSINESS IN ASHLAND

Mix in the mix on the Plaza

Although the old Ashland Fudge Co. may be raising eyebrows with its papered windows and blank front, Erik Brown and Jamie North of Amuse are getting ready to transform the drab brick building into yet another sweet shop.

&

It&

ll dress up nice once we get it fixed up,&

Brown said.

The Ashland Fudge Co. closed in December, and at the end of March, everything in the old business was moved to Seattle to be sold at auction when the City of Ashland realized the owners were indebted more than $23,000 in back taxes, penalties and legal fees.

The couple of chefs from Amuse restaurant on First Street jumped on the opportunity to rent the location from building owner Lloyd Haines and decided to create their own sweet shop to complement the baked goods from Amuse. Mix &

as it will be called &

should be open around the middle of June, and the couple plans to start construction next week.

&

I feel like it&

s a perfect addition to what we&

re doing here,&

North said of their current restaurant.

The two plan to work with pastry chef Skyler Conner-Coash &

who helps out at Amuse &

to collaborate between the two eateries with baked goods and desserts.

Because of Jackson County Health Department regulations, the new shop will only be allowed 15 seats with a few tables on the sidewalk.

&

It&

ll be a grab-and-go type of place anyway,&

North said.

While the restaurant will be situated in the bustling plaza, North said they hope to carry a few different options than anyone else in town. The couple said they hope to be the only shop in town to carry Gelato &

an Italian frozen dessert that is thicker and richer than normal ice cream. Mix will also carry Stumptown coffee from the Portland-based roaster.

After being successful with Amuse for six years, the expansion into a new type of food service seemed like a logical step for the couple. The two have been working in the industry nearly all their lives. Brown spent 20 years cooking from Berkely, Calif., to Eugene, and North grew up in the restaurant business. Her grandfather started J.J. North&

s restaurant in Medford. She and her sister started working there when they were 10 years old and moved on after her father and uncle expanded and sold the business in the 1990s.

The couple&

s extensive restaurant and kitchen experience, along with an established business in the community already, helped landlord Lloyd Haines pick the two from four or five others who wanted to open a business in the location.

&

People were lined up for that place,&

Haines said. &

It&

s on the plaza, which is very desirable, especially being on the corner.&

Michael Cooke &

owner of Munchies restaurant downstairs from where Mix will be &

said he isn&

t sure how the new sweet shop will affect his business once they move in.

Cooke said Munchies and the Ashland Fudge Co. always had a good relationship where customers would eat downstairs and get dessert upstairs. However, when the fudge shop closed in December, sales of cookies and other sweets increased slightly at Munchies.

Cooke said a new business upstairs will probably help bring in more customers, though.

&

It&

s a good spot for that (a sweets shop),&

Cooke said. &

It draws people down to the plaza, and they get out of their cars and walk around.&