On Friday, October 11, at 7:30am in the morning, Jeannette Liebers opened the doors to her much-anticipated Sweet Mimi’s Cafe on Phila Street in downtown Saratoga.
On October 6, 2013, the staff of Sweet Mimi’s Cafe trained for their opening moment, perfecting menu items, greetings, protocol and final details for the door busters to follow that Friday in the narrow cafe.
“As a busy mom of three teenagers, I knew my limits, so the size is just right with under 40 seats,” says Liebers. “Our bakery case and take away options also add to the charm; everything we make is homemade from scratch.”
Hard training and preparation paid off for the cafe and bakery, which is Liebers first restaurant. Liebers wanted to open Sweet Mimi’s after studying Provincial Italian cuisine and European Cakes & Tortes culinary classes at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts following a torrid romance with Italy and France traveling.
She started catering 20 years ago and continues the catering aspect at Mimi’s, offering 3 options perfect for local nine-to-fivers who live for lunch meetings. (Sweet Mimi’s Power Lunch includes 3 sandwiches like homemade chicken salad with pecans, grapes and tarragon; a farmers market salad, cous cous and of course cookies and brownies.)
“I moved to Saratoga Springs 10 years ago with my husband and 3 children and I always had my eye on 47 Phila Street as a location I would hope to design and operate my own breakfast cafe,” says Liebers. “When the space became available, I worked hard to make it a reality.”
The bakery items are what’s always set Liebers apart (she has mastered oversized chocolate chip cookies). And all the bakery items like scones, pound cake and layer cakes are made in small batches and hand mixed.
All dishes are made with the freshest ingredients, farm fresh eggs, garden herbs and local produce when available. Liebers makes sure to use local and quality ingredients at all times, which is why she brings in Challah bread and fresh cibatta from Brooklyn every day, and why she uses (and sells) gourmet Austrian oils and speciality syrups from Michigan. She supports local farms such as Stuzenstein in Greenfield, Thomas Poultry Farm, Parillos Sausage from Saratoga Springs, Rock Hill Bakery in Glens Falls, Kings Brothers Dairy and more.
With a black and white awning and stark white interior with cabinets and shelves stocked with jars of Sarabeth’s Jams, Sweet Mimi’s Cafe is Saratoga’s local and custom version of Stonewall Kitchen.
Behind the counter they churn out:
- real hot chocolate
- bacon pancakes with caramel sauce
- zucchini and corn fritters
- homemade granola
- lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry sauce
- Mediterranean savory herb strata
- gourmet breakfast sandwiches such as the Italian Sandwich with eggs, prosciutto, spinach, mozzarella and pesto on ciabatta.
The weekend allows Mimi’s to focus on breakfast specials, which they are enjoying with the abundance of fall flavors. Look for Pumpkin Waffles with Ice Cream Man Cinnamon Ice Cream, Homemade whipped Cream and Caramel Sauce. Another popular special is their homemade Baked French Toast with Caramelized Local Apples. Their breakfast specials will continue to change monthly to offer the freshest seasonal flavors.
Liebers designed the space right down to the art and wall colors from many years of dreaming and sketching her vision based on notes she took over the many years of dining in quaint cafes from New York to Italy.
Liebers explains her design process:
“I was hoping to keep the neighborhood welcoming feel in a warm and comfortable atmosphere. I made the right choice in hiring Alex Schmidt and Tim Harris to follow through on my plans. We also brought in Mike Perri, architect to sketch it out mechanically just as I had envisioned. There was much to do as we needed to remove everything from the existing space, including walls, to make it operable and code compliant. Alex, Tim and I ripped up the floor, tore down the ceiling, and with the help of a few willing friends, we brought it down to bare bones. It was thrilling to make it exactly what I had always dreamed of. I was fortunate to have found the right contractors who were up to the task and were able to bring in their artistry to the project. It was definitely a daily meeting of the minds from day one. My close confidant, Mary Los was often beside me in the decision making when I needed another eye on the design. She designed the bathroom wall and has left her mark in all the little touches throughout the cafe, inside and out. In other words, although it was my design and my vision, I aligned myself with the right professionals to make it happen.”
Opening weekend for the cafe was overwhelming with so much support from the community that she quickly realized she needed more kitchen help to keep up with the demand. Sweet Mimi’s now will be closing two days a week (Mondays and Tuesdays) instead of just on Tuesdays to allow Liebers time to further her search to add to her stellar kitchen crew (hint hint job seekers). Thankfully, things are coming together and Liebers is announcing that she will re-open on Mondays beginning November 11, Veterans Day.
Sweet Mimi’s Cafe will be open every day except Tuesday from 7:30am-2:30pm. Although the kitchen closes at 2:30pm, the bakery and coffee counter stay open until 3pm.