From the outside, Sugar Factory is relatively unassuming. Inside, the fun begins. The interior is divided into the wonderfully bright retail section, with its ice-cream counter and extensive sweet selections, including a fabulous variety of pick-and-mix candy. Then there is the main restaurant, with its feature marble-topped bar. Chandeliers, TV screens, mirrors and colourful, larger-than-life photographs create a spiffy, casual atmosphere, broken up into a mixture of red banquette seating and black-and-white tables and chairs.
General Manager Brian Moran gave us a tour: “This is where you can genuinely feel like a kid in a candy store. We set the bar very high for ourselves in terms of our food and drink offerings and we want people to feel like this is somewhere special to visit.”
Brian showed us around the ‘candy store’ first, saying, “There are basically four aspects to the Sugar factory – the retail shop, which has more than two hundred varieties of candy, including some vintage ones from the 1960s; the walk-up window, which will offer desserts, milkshakes, ice cream and coffees; the Bar, with lots of colourful drinks – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic – including our signature goblets and martins; and the full restaurant.”
With its location in the heart of tourist central, Sugar Factory, like many I-Drive restaurants, strives to serve a dual purpose, catering to the family-friendly crowd and the late-night revellers. “During the day things are more family-orientated,” Moran said, “especially for breakfast, and in the evening, when we stay open until 2 a.m., it is more of an adult crowd, although families are obviously still welcome. Friday and Saturday nights are big for events and birthday parties, including bachelorette and Sweet 16 groups.”
Although the name suggests it serves sweet-treats only, the full restaurant also serves an all-day breakfast menu, plus lunch and dinner, and an 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. weekend brunch. The menu had not yet been revealed, but we sampled several items, and expect the menu will be similar to those in their outlets in Miami, New York and Chicago, though we have reliably been told there will be items on offer that are specific to Orlando (watch this space!).
The main menu selection offers a range of tempting appetisers (like the Meatballs and Fried Macaroni & Cheese Balls), soups, salads, burgers, steaks, fish, pasta and sandwiches, as well as a dazzling dessert selection, from waffles (mostly sweet, but they also offer a savoury Chicken Wings and Waffles), pancakes, and sweet and savoury crêpes to old-fashioned milkshakes in a dozen imaginative varieties, with huge sundaes designed for two and then the King Kong Sundae.
This latter takes fully 15 minutes to assemble and consists of 24 scoops of 12 difference ice creams and gelatos, four waffle cones, pretzels, sprinkles, gummies, whipped cream and – wait for it! – two huge sparklers to add a real razzle-dazzle! It costs a whopping $99 but will easily indulge up to 12, hence it might just be a memorable one-off holiday splurge.
Limited beer and wine are available, but the bar’s real accent is on sweet, in both look and taste, and the four massive goblet cocktails we tried (in sensible sample sizes!) all lived up to that intention, from the vivid Ocean Blue (with Blueberry Schnapps, Stoli Blueberry Vodka and Bacardi Razz – complete with gummy sharks!) to the White Gummi (featuring Peach Schnapps, Bacardi Red and Bacardi Razz, and gummy worms!). When ordered off the menu, they come in huge bowl-like glasses that are designed for sharing, and have a misty, bubbly dry-ice effect for good measure. You can imagine children’s reactions to the colourful cocktails, and, because they’re going to want one, the bartender can make any of them non-alcoholic so the kiddies can imbibe.
Moran confirmed guests can come in just for a meal, but it really wouldn’t be complete without a little something afterwards. “We are obviously known most for our desserts, and really, there is no way anyone leaves here without having dessert! The signature two-person desserts are incredible and we have a variety of milkshakes, like the Birthday Cake Shake, which are totally unique. We have ten varieties of gelato and another ten of ice cream, all of which are made especially for us by a company here in Orlando.”
With friendly, efficient service, we think it’s a terrific addition to the I-Drive 360 family, and Moran’s enthusiasm for opening day was obvious: “We are very proud of how the restaurant turned out. It has been a long path to the full opening and we can’t wait to have people coming through the doors.”
Also new to the I-Drive 360 complex this past summer were Arcade City, next door to Sugar Factory, and across the street (but still within the complex) is Shake Shack, for burgers, hot dogs and frozen custard (a fabulously rich ice cream style treat), ideal when you just want something simple and comforting.
Nearby is Tapa Tora tapas bar and paella pit, with sumptuous small-plate dishes that really appeal to our love of variety in dining (they even do a vegetarian paella, a real boon for non-seafood lovers. Also try their sea bass or the massive tomahawk steak for two).
Really in the mood for something different? Visit Cowgirls and try your luck on a mechanical bull. Less family-friendly and much more a raucous night out for the adults, it’s a good choice for couples, though children are still welcome (we don’t recommend it for young ‘uns after 9pm). For something lighter, Naru Restaurant and Sushi Bar makes a welcome change. With a dining room on one side and the bar on the other, the atmosphere is laid-back and the food makes a welcome change from I-Drive’s predominance of heavier choices.
Have questions about I-Drive 360’s attractions or restaurants? Join us on the Attraction Tickets Direct forums for the friendliest answers on the internet!
Liked this post? You may also like: