Almost two years after Sianni Dean, owner of Cranky Granny’s Sweet Rolls, made the decision to move from her hometown of New Jersey, her business is about to undergo another big move. The storefront located in The Domain received a 30-day Notice to Vacate on July 8, 2022, after being at that location since May 2021.
After having mentors and lawyers review her lease, Dean was informed she had signed a month-to-month lease. Per the agreement, she is only entitled to receive a 30-day notice to leave the space.
“I heard the business above was expanding and taking over my storefront,” Dean said. “I should have had someone look over my agreement, but I was young and I was excited.”
It went from being in my apartment to being inside another business, to a storefront at The Domain in less than seven months
Dean, 22, began serving her cinnamon rolls out of her apartment in November 2020, barely a month after arriving in Texas. A partnership with Midtown Live Sports Cafe enlarged Cranky Granny’s customer base, and after only five months, Dean signed her lease with Simon Property Group at The Domain.
“It went from being in my apartment to being inside another business, to a storefront at The Domain in less than seven months,” she said. “It happened so quickly, that I didn’t have time to think about it.”
With over 100 businesses located at The Domain, the shopping outlet offers less than four black-owned businesses.
As a black businesswoman, Dean said she had concerns about leaving East Austin where Midtown Cafe is located for North Austin.
“I didn’t know if my customers would follow me to my new location or if the new area would help grow the brand,” she said. “It was a risk to move to the opposite end of the city, but I was willing to take it.”
Those concerns were quickly forgotten. The Domain’s foot traffic from the plethora of businesses provided more visibility and awareness for Cranky Granny’s. Former customers, tourists, foodies, and various content creators frequented the bakery.
“Having our own space allowed us to introduce new items to the menu,” Dean said. It even led to a collaboration with another Domain hot-spot, The Museum of Ice Cream.
Dean recalls the first time she ever heard about the possibility of being evicted. The owner of June Taylor, another black-owned business, informed Dean he had been asked to vacate his own store due to expansion plans for another store. Also informing her the store above her might be expanding soon.
“I just remember going into the back of the store and crying,” Dean said. “I didn’t know what to do or what to tell my staff. It wasn’t just about me anymore.”
Dean reached out to Simon Property Group, the real estate company managing The Domain, but they assured her she had nothing to worry about. Dean didn’t believe them.
I had someone else inquire about the same space and they told them it was available.
Feeling uneasy, she began to look for available spaces in the mall. According to Dean, she inquired about a vacant spot, but Simon Property Group said it was not available.
“That wasn’t true,” she said. “I had someone else inquire about the same space and they told them it was available.”
Although she will miss the storefront at The Domain, Dean said she is optimistic and hopeful for the future.
“I’ve taken risks and most have paid off,” she said. “I’m grateful for the time I had at The Domain but I get it, business is business.”
Dean has her sights set on another storefront or a food truck and plans to go on a Cranky Granny’s tour, participating in pop-ups and farmers’ markets across Texas. She is also considering franchising prospects.
To bid farewell to their customers at The Domain, Cranky Granny’s is throwing a Sweet Roll Tasting Party this Sunday, July 31.