new to main street smithtown
Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea faced Shutdown head on 6 months after opening their doors. Jeffrey Wong took his team through these new challenges by utilizing their drive through and relying on the small business community they had become a part of. I myself discovered Sweetwaters during shutdown, I wanted to patronize whatever small businesses I could, and driving through to get my coffee before setting out for my Front Steps Project in 2020 became a routine. Through this drive through I got to know Jeff and even booked one of his baristas as a wedding client. This embodies that small town business model that the franchise of Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea wants to bring to its locations. The staff here gets to know you as a guest (they typically know my coffee order once I give my name) and is a place where you feel like you are a part of something special.
Jeff did not start out in the hospitality business, in fact, he started in Healthcare. Ironic that after making a break from healthcare the Pandemic hit, but Jeff and his team were not scared of these changes. When I asked how he found himself owning and managing a coffee place he illustrated a story of colleagues he met through his old job presenting him with an opportunity and the three of them took a leap of faith. "I was in healthcare because I liked helping people, and Sweetwaters still brings that into my life because we are helping people in a different way." Jeff went on to share a few stories of how they were able to help people and participate in things around town almost right away that reassured him that his personal mission statement still stood within this career change. The sentiment of community is felt when you're sitting in Sweetwaters. Local Artists have work displayed on the walls, prints are for sale, a mural is seen right as you walk in - that small town feeling is felt, even if Sweetwaters is a franchise. I find out through our conversation that at first, they were going to land in Wantagh, but Smithtown is what came to be. "It was a slight relief," Jeff adds, "since I live in Port Jeff with my family, this commute was less daunting."
As a Father of two
the changes Jeff was making were not taken lightly, but something told him it would all work out. "I grew up in the company I worked for, it was a graceful departure that was felt." Jeff and his wife have known each other since middle school, they have two daughters and you can tell that even though his 'Why' in this business is rooted in helping people, his no risk no reward attitude while taking on this new venture was really inspired by family. Jeff wants to set the young leadership team at Sweetwaters up for success, giving them the right tools to connect and thrive within their workplace. His attitude truly is community driven as he wants everyone around him to succeed as much as he would like to see his own success grow within Sweetwaters as well. The drive thru was what held up their opening at first, but the wait paid off as it did carry them through a stressful 2020.
I knew that Sweetwaters was a spot I wanted to learn more about as it is a place that I personally love. Currently I use it as a meeting spot with colleagues when the stars align and it's a default suggestion when I am conducting more interviews. This franchise came in and immediately felt more small town than corporate, and I think Jeff and his leadership is to thank for that. The team over at Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea match the message of helping others, serving the community and above all else being apart of a quality establishment in Smithtown. Unfortunately the small business world is still facing the ongoing challenges of the Pandemic, but Jeff's attitude remains positive which radiates through the entire establishment.