A BACKSTAGE PASS WITH THIS YEAR’S WINNERS

THE TOP OF THE TOWN: Social Sloth Bakery & Cafe

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Social Sloth Bakery & Café has been cooking up delicious Turkish goods since opening amid the all-time tumultuous year that was 2020. Despite launching in troubling times, the quaint eatery has amassed many fans thanks to its cozy, friendly atmosphere and its unique offerings inspired by the Turkish heritage of Burcay and Aybars Gunguler, the husband-and-wife duo behind Social Sloth. 

“We’ve only been around one year, so this means people must like our food and enjoy being with us. Good food always puts you in a good mood, and we’re very happy about the award,” Burcay Gunguler said. 

Coming up when in-person dining was a no-go and online ordering was all the rage, Social Sloth immediately had to develop some online savvy. The cute iconography of a fuzzy, and presumably very hungry, cartoon sloth was an easy bet to get some highly helpful shares on social media platforms like Facebook. The bakery’s involvement with social media campaigns organized by nonprofits in support of local restaurants, such as Downtown Lansing Inc.’s “#LiftUpLocal” movement, also assisted in building Social Sloth’s growing brand recognition. 

“When people come here, they’re exploring something different. Most people don’t know Turkish food and culture, they haven’t tried the baked goods of Turkey or Turkish tea and coffee,” Burcay Gunguler said. “During COVID, you couldn’t travel. But you don’t need a ticket to buy something here and try something Turkish. When people come and try us, it makes us so happy.”

Gunguler hopes people will continue to support the bakery and its neighboring downtown businesses in the coming months, when foot traffic is much lower thanks to Michigan’s oh-so-lovely freezing climate. 

“Downtown needs support, always. We are not the only business here — everybody is trying their best,” Gunguler said.

If you haven’t been to Social Sloth yet, Gunguler recommends you try out the éclairs and baklavas. But if you’re not interested in baked goods, Social Sloth also has a wide range of lunch items on the menu. 

“People say we have the best eclairs and baklavas they have eaten. We rotate the lunch menu every day, so there are always different things to enjoy,” Gunguler said.

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