We all dream of having a job that we LOVE to go to every day. But to love where you work AND create friendships that can get you through just about anything? Well THAT is next level. Ages ago, someone grabbed my ear about how awesome it was to work at Sweet Mimi’s Café and Bakery. She went on to explain that not only was it amazing working for owner Jeannette Liebers, but how it truly was a “sisterhood” like no other. I knew I had to learn more.
A Destination For Food and Friendship
Perhaps you know Sweet Mimi’s as that “Best Of” brunch spot with the line down Phila Street. Or maybe from network television, with appearances on Beat Bobby Flay (Food Network) or most recently, CBS’s “The Talk”. Or perhaps from one of my very first SCOOP features, when Jeannette showed us how to make her UH-MAZING blueberry muffins. Or maybe you’re just one of those lucky individuals who have tasted, first-hand, the love and attention that goes into every meal delivered to your table. One bite of those pancakes or cookies, and it’s evident why people come in from all over the country to visit Sweet Mimi’s.
It was only time before Jeannette took her hand-sketched plans and family recipes to this community that she loves. But it’s not just exceptional baking that keeps her business thriving. It’s her connection with people. Those chats with the long-time customers in the dining room who energize her during her breaks from baking. And most importantly, her love for the team of women who show up every day in full support of Jeannette’s dream, and in full support of each other.
A Team Based On Respect
Let’s face it: it’s a terribly tough time for restaurant owners. Between the covid cases and staff shortages, you never know what tomorrow will bring. Jeannette’s dedicated staff is no coincidence, and surely helped smooth over the effects of the pandemic. During training she makes a few things clear to all employees. One, that she sets very high standards for her team and herself. And two, that you (and she) check your EGO at the door. Jeannette realized early on the importance of building a team based on mutual respect and hard work. And it’s no surprise that she reinforces this through a shared team meal at the end of each day.
More than just a job
Whether it’s her high school girls building the foundation for their own dream careers, or the “moms” who know how to juggle and get through tough times, each employee brings something unique and truly valuable to the business and to the sisterhood. And they get as much in return.
Judy began working at Sweet Mimi’s just months after they opened in 2014. “We can read each other’s minds, and that flows right into the service we provide to the customers”. The support Judy has gotten from her “sisters”, both on and off the clock, has made going through some difficult times (like her mom’s passing) much easier. “It’s truly a special place.”
Carrie can’t remember how long she’s been at the café because it “doesn’t feel like work.” She considers these women an extension of her family, who she describes as hard working and exceptional. The support she’s gotten from both these “sisters” and Sweet Mimi’s has given her the opportunity to support her own daughter through college… what she considers one of the biggest accomplishments of her life.
Kathy’s warmth and smiling face has been present at the front of the house for seven years now. “Our camaraderie makes us a team, outside of work too. We support each other through life’s challenges as well as important milestones.”
Leila knew that as soon as she was of working age, she wanted to work at Sweet Mimi’s. She also mentioned that the last two years of life as a high school student have been far from ideal. “My friends at Sweet Mimi’s have always been there to talk about the things going on in my life. And we aren’t just staff, we’re a family.”
Finally, there’s Kelly. Hardly knowing Jeannette, Kelly jumped right in to help Jeannette open the restaurant in 2014 and, as she shared, “the rest is history”. Kelly’s face is ever present at the café, and usually accompanied by a dry joke and laugh from those around her. Kelly shared that she’s learned a piece of so many people’s lives by working at Sweet Mimi’s. “I can’t explain the love I feel.”
The Power of Connection
In addition to loving the inspirational stories shared by all who I “SCOOP”, I equally love learning about the challenges of the small business owner, and what they attribute to their success. I’ve personally known Jeannette for years, and fully understand her unique set of skills that contributed to the quick success of Sweet Mimi’s (note drive, attention to detail and empathy come to mind). But Jeannette is confident that she wouldn’t be where she is today if it wasn’t for the support of her family. From day one, they’ve had her back… with input on decisions as small as the daily specials and large as the storefront location. Reciprocated by lessons they’ve learned from her entrepreneurial journey. Like the importance of following your dreams, and not to settle on a career path that isn’t satisfying (even if it’s REALLY tough!)
But Jeannette hopes that above all, both her kids and her team have developed a full appreciation for the power of connection. Specifically, the connection that happens while around a table enjoying a meal. It’s in this simplest of pleasures that encouraged Jeannette to follow her dreams, and helped to create the Sweet Mimi’s sisterhood that exists today.