Three years later, and Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea in Scottsdale is finally a reality. It has been owner Elliot Greenberg and father David's dream to open up a franchise location of the national chain in Arizona, and it's been a long time coming. David and Elliot are 50 percent partners in the business.
"This has been a long journey for us," says Greenberg, "We've been working on opening this location for three years, and we hit a lot of bumps in the road."
Sweetwaters has been around for more than 27 years and was founded by Wei and Lisa Bee in Ann Arbor, near their alma mater, The University of Michigan. After winning multiple awards, a friend and regular opened up a franchise location in Canton. Now, there are cafes across the country in places like Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Texas, but it was still an unknown relatively recently in Arizona.
"When you're a new concept coming to town and nobody knows you, a lot of landlords just won't talk to you," says Greenberg. "We did find a location after a year in downtown Chandler which was going to be right next to City Hall."
Greenberg says after some issues with that property, they walked away after a year and a half and restarted their search, later finding the current location in Scottsdale. After four months of building, Sweetwaters is set to celebrate its grand opening on Oct. 10. The menu focuses on classic coffee house fare with some global influences like the Dragon Eye, a blend of house coffee with condensed milk, the Napali Brew shake, inspired by Hawaii's sandy Napali beaches and the Emerald Matcha Blend tea, with matcha straight from Japan.
"What distinguishes us from a lot of other coffee houses is we have a real ingredient focus meaning we don't use a lot of artificial ingredients," Greenberg says. "Our cold brew is brewed over 18 hours. There's no bite to it, and it's extremely smooth. The matcha that we use is the highest grade matcha that you can find in the world."
The coffee drinks are customizable and can be made decaf, with sugar-free syrup, hot or iced and with your choice of milk — almond, skim, soy and oat, and it's just as much about the food as it is the drinks. There's a large pastry case with selections like different types of cakes and cheesecakes, breakfast and pretzel sandwiches, muffins, scones, croissants and more. Catering will also soon be available for local businesses.
There's plenty of room inside with multiple tables and chairs and a big patio. During the soft opening on October 3 with permission from the landlord, they brought half of the table and chairs outside and spaced out the inside to abide by social distancing guidelines. There's glass up to protect staff and guests, and the cafe just passed its health inspection with flying colors. There's also a drive-thru if guests prefer not to get out of the car and a mobile app. Delivery is additionally available through GrubHub and UberEats.
Greenberg has a bunch of community events planned when it's possible to do so with COVID-19, like hosting painting and succulent classes, bringing Santa in and partnering with schools to bring donations back to them. In fact, Sweetwaters donated half the proceeds from its soft opening to Make-A-Wish Arizona.
"Do the right thing, treat people well, take care of people, treat your employees like family, love your guests, constantly seek improvement, and have a positive attitude at all times," says Greenberg. "I hung my core values on our fridge on a huge panel, so it's something that the employees see every single day."
Making a difference is very important to Greenberg. He says he was looking for an opportunity to open a franchise for awhile but finally settled on Sweetwaters after finding that the brand focused on community and shared the value of quality over quantity.
"The more I learned about Sweetwaters, the more impressed I became," says Greenberg. "The most important thing to me is the quality of the products. They're not average, they're really awesome, they really taste good, and we really focus on providing products that stand out from others."
On opening day on Oct. 10, you can get a free 16 ounce iced tea or cold brew all day, and there are great promotions in the days following. There's a free 12 ounce brewed coffee or tea on Oct. 11, a free flavor shot on Oct. 12, buy-one-get-one free on Oct. 13, a free size upgrade on Oct. 14, a free 20 ounce cold brew or iced tea with a pastry purchase on Oct. 15 and free 8 ounce mini cold brew bottles on Oct. 16. Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea is located at 14850 N. 87th Street,. Suite 110, Scottsdale; 480.410.4118; www.sweetwaterscafe.com