An Interview with Meagan Higgins and Marybeth Higgins
Local Hero: Best Cafe, Southern New Mexico
Photos by Stephanie Cameron
Indulgence is a family-owned and -operated bakery and café where everything is made from scratch with love, passion, and creativity. It serves breakfast, lunch, and a rotating variety of pastries, Stuftcakes (jumbo stuffed cupcakes), cakes, cheesecakes, cream puffs, and other sweet treats. The café rotates its bakery flavors seasonally.
How did you get to where you are now? What’s the backstory, and what was the moment that brought you to your current work?
(Marybeth): I fell into the restaurant industry at a young age. I was a single mom who needed a job. Over the years, I developed a strong passion for food, but most importantly, I fell in love with the familial environment that a good restaurant crew provides. I found my people and my purpose. I’m completely self-taught and I am still constantly learning and still passionate about what I do.
(Meagan): My mom opened her first restaurant (Sweet Indulgence) in 1997 when I was eleven. I remember feeling so excited to have this new little space, bustling with activity and creativity, that felt like home. It felt magical at such a young age to have the freedom to be a part of something so special. I remember running around that tiny restaurant, helping fill cream puffs, and probably getting in the way more often than not, but it was my first taste of feeling proud of something that felt like it was ours. Watching my mom teach herself the baking skills she was passionate about and turn her dreams into a reality was hugely inspiring for me.
What has been the most popular item on the menu in 2020? How have you kept up your spirits, and your business?
The most popular items this year have definitely been our line of Stuftcakes. They are jumbo filled cupcakes that we do in all different flavors. They are so fun because each one is like having your own personal cake. One of our favorite flavors right now is our Pecan Pie Stuftcake, a jumbo vanilla cupcake packed full of pecan pie filling (made with local New Mexico pecans, of course) and topped with a light and fluffy maple whipped cream. Also, our cream puffs are always a huge seller.
As far as keeping up our spirits and our business during this crazy year, it has truly been a challenge. We have an absolutely incredible and loving clientele that has been so supportive. When we first shifted to curbside-only in March, they were there. When we opened back up for takeout and limited dine-in service, they continued to show their support, following all the new rules and being generally wonderful. We are also lucky to work with an incredible crew made up of both biological and restaurant family. However, it would feel somewhat inauthentic not to mention how hard it has been to always stay positive. I (Meagan) have struggled with more anxiety and depression than I have ever previously dealt with, and I think that so many people are dealing with the same issues. I think it is important to mention those struggles in an attempt to normalize them and let people know that they are not alone in how they are feeling as we all collectively deal with this whole new world that we are currently living in.
How has working as a family shaped the bakery and cafe?
(Marybeth): Working with family provides a sense of stability. My son, Jeremy, is our chef, my granddaughter, Katie (his daughter), works up front, and we are here together day in and day out. We all show up every day and do our jobs to the best of our abilities with a sense of pride and familial effort. We are incredibly invested, and we all care so much about making the business the best it can be. Family is always willing to put in the extra time and do whatever it takes to see you through the toughest of times. When we had to close our dining room due to COVID, Jeremy got to work building us these adorable outdoor tables and putting plexiglass up inside for when we were able to reopen. It’s not always easy working with your whole family, but at the end of the day you know they always have your back, and that is a good feeling. Also, buying wine by the case makes working with family much more manageable.
What is the best part about running a bakery and café in Las Cruces? How has the food scene in Las Cruces changed over the years?
We have such a great customer base, as well as great relationships with other local business owners. Over the years, Las Cruces has developed a stronger loyalty to local businesses and to shopping and eating at locally run establishments. It has been great to see so many new businesses pop up and to see the community be so receptive to them. We have customers who have followed us through all of our restaurants, people that have become like family to us. It is so rewarding to have people come in and tell you that they were eating cream puffs for lunch in 1998, and now they are bringing their kids in or having us make their wedding desserts. It comes full circle, and that community that has developed through the years is the best part.
There are many large nearby farms throughout the Mesilla Valley, but much of the agricultural production is geared toward export out of state. Does this present a challenge for sourcing local ingredients?
Definitely. We try to use as many local ingredients as possible, getting our pecans in town from local farms, using New Mexico beef, and of course, our delicious Hatch green chile, but being able to reliably source other produce locally can be tough. We would love to see more of a partnership between local farms and local restaurants, and it is certainly something that we continue to research. It is our hope that we will be able to source even more of our ingredients from local farms in the future.
What’s a local food issue that’s important to you? Why?
For us, it is really important to support our local food economy. As a family-owned restaurant, we appreciate all the support we receive, and in turn, we put our money back into the community by supporting other local businesses. We think that the more we can build each other up, the more we will all succeed. We eat at other local restaurants, we support the local co-op, and we stop by local farm stands. Rather than viewing other local businesses as competitors, we like to think of us all as a community working towards a common goal of putting local first in Las Cruces. We also donate to the yearly fundraisers for the El Caldito Soup Kitchen and the La Casa Women’s Shelter. Support local businesses in as many ways as possible is always our motto.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with edible readers?
We just want to give a shoutout to our incredible crew. They work so hard and have handled the ever-changing craziness of this year with an amazing willingness to adapt and go with the punches. Our kitchen crew works hard to make sure that our food menu is delicious and consistent, making every batch of sauce from scratch, roasting all of our meats, preparing each dish with care and expertise. Our front of the house crew is as friendly and genuine as they come. They love our customers and make sure that every single person who comes in feels welcome and cared for. Our bakery team is magical, and they are always coming up with new ideas and flavors. We are truly so lucky to work with such an amazing group of people and we couldn’t do it without them.
2265 S Main Street, Las Cruces, 575-523-1572