Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sweet Endings: Tasty treats, great atmosphere

Take two steps into Sweet Endings Coffee and Pastry Shoppe in Long Valley and you'll likely turn around to look at the door again — just to make sure you're not trespassing on somebody else's property.

"A lot of people, when they walk in here, they feel like they're walking into a living room," says Renee Giacco, who manages the popular bakery that recently was voted runner-up in the Best Bakery category in the recent Best of MendhamChesterWashington This Week contest. "And they have to double-check if it's the pastry shop that they're in because it's a little bit different layout of the building and the furniture."

She's not kidding. With sofas, pictures of animals sitting at tables eating desserts and an overall relaxed atmosphere, you'll feel like you just walked into your trendy next-door neighbor's house instead of a dessert shop. But it's all intentional.

"I went around with Matt, the general manager, and we went to the different stores in the area and purchased odd, eclectic seating, so it (didn't have the) franchise look," Giacco says. "It's a little more homey. We've got the fireplace, the pellet stove, and so it's a little bit different of an atmosphere. It's not so chainy."

Atmosphere only gets you so far, though. Luckily, Sweet Endings has the treats to back it up.

"More toward the city is where you'll get pastries like ours," says Giacco, who's been in the food business for more than 20 years and knows good food when she tastes it. "It's a little bit of the city coming out to the country."

Some of these city flavors can be found in delectable croissants, pies and quiches, all of which are tasty and delicious. But those aren't the biggest sellers.

"The best-sellers are probably the corn muffin and the cheese Danish," Giacco says. "And our brownies are to die for."

Giacco would like to taste the brownies once in a while, but there's only one problem: They can't stay on the shelves long enough.

"They sell out whenever we get them here," Giacco says.

Beside the foods, which range from pastries to breakfast sandwiches to salads, the crowds that frequent the shop are varied as well.

"We do seem to have the 'mom' crowd here," says Giacco about one of the many groups that come to Sweet Endings on a regular basis. "After they take their kids to school, they like to come in the morning and do their coffee clique."

Sipping coffee and discussing the day's events isn't just reserved for the moms, though as book lovers, business people and even those looking to explain the nature of existence itself all like to call Sweet Endings home.

"We have book clubs that come in and meet here," Giacco says. "We (also) like to host corporate meetings. Our one metaphysics group likes to get here late, like 7 on Friday or Saturday night."

This isn't even taking into account all the people coming over from Splash Seafood and Pasta and the Long Valley Pub and Brewery, which are only steps away.

"People seem to want an after-dinner dessert," Giacco says, "and they come over for something other than what the menus offer up at the Pub and at Splash."

Pub, Splash and Sweet Endings, it should be noted, are all in one single sector known as Restaurant Village at Long Valley.

"It seems like they needed one (bake shop) in Long Valley," Giacco says.

As for how Giacco feels Restaurant Village is as a whole for the Long Valley community, she thinks it could only make the town even better.

"It's a nice area, but it needs a little more brought in to the area," Giacco says. "I think that's what they're trying to do here with the theme of Restaurant Village. They're trying to incorporate all of them, just saying, 'Come on in, we have a little of something for everybody.' "

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