In her previous profession as a high-level sales executive, Judy Lu traveled extensively throughout the world and realized that food and beverages, no matter how unique delicacies and flavors are in specific countries, are universal to every culture and have the power to bring people together. This concept ultimately fed her desire to start her own business, Black Sugar Caffé, an award-winning and popular chain of three coffee shops in the Texas towns of Cedar Park, Georgetown and Roanoke.
Ms. Lu and her team proudly offer far more than the usual variations on a cup of joe. An array of teas, tapas, desserts, and other delectables grace the menu. Each far-from-ordinary shop has become the lifestyle venue of choice and a haven for legions of loyal patrons to enjoy an elegant ambiance of new-age trendiness combined with old-school charm, live musical entertainment, and, most important, community togetherness, just as Ms. Lu envisioned. Praised in the press and receiving multiple honors, Black Sugar Caffé was recently inducted into the city of Cedar Park Hall of Fame. The business also was named Best Coffee Shop in the city of Cedar Park as well as Best Coffee Shop and Restaurant in the State of Texas for two years in a row.
Ms. Lu attributes her success to discipline, grit, and her fearless, can-do attitude, declaring that people, especially women, need to stop making excuses not to follow their dreams. Her daily duties of overseeing operations, building business structure, managing and mentoring employees, maintaining the quality of products, ensuring staff members are valued, and keeping the paying public satisfied seem less like work when she sees countless customers smile and write reviews to express their appreciation for Black Sugar Caffé. Ms. Lu advises others who seek to open their own business to have a clear vision of how they want their life to play out so they can stay on course, never give up, not be afraid to ask questions, and always look forward.
Ms. Lu views her coffee shops as a legacy for her son and daughter and an opportunity to fulfill her personal mission to positively impact people’s lives today and help provide places of peace in the world. Desiring to find more time to serve those in need, she volunteers at local food banks and animal shelters. Ms. Lu believes that the essence of life is the ability to give, a privilege that she says starts at home with family.
Born in Taiwan with modest means, Ms. Lu’s father brought her to the United States for a better life when she was 14 and spoke no English, which made school a challenge. She remembers feeling culturally out of place being the only non-white student. With perseverance, she excelled academically and graduated high school at the top of her class. Always having an entrepreneurial spirit that was inspired and modeled by her well-respected father, a businessman and her mentor, Ms. Lu aimed to become just like him as an adult.
Before opening Black Sugar Caffé, Ms. Lu, who holds a master’s degree from California State University, enjoyed a long and successful career in the corporate retail sector for major brands from 1987 to 2009, including but not limited to stints as vice president of sales and development at Yon-Ka Paris, an account executive at Clinique Laboratories, LLC, store and district manager of Pea in the Pod, manager of Albert’s Ordering, and department manager at Robinsons-May. In the coming years, Ms. Lu hopes to continue building more Black Sugar Caffé locations and have an even greater impact on the community. She also hopes to participate in speaking engagements to motivate people who might not be as fortunate and give them pointers on how they can have successful lives and elevate to the next stage of their careers.