Developing a small business in Saratoga Springs is no easy task. Sweet Mimi’s chef and owner, Jeannette Leibers, met with me to discuss the grit, drive, and hustle it takes to make your dreams come true.

At the age of 28, Leibers left the business world to further her education in culinary arts. Since her childhood, she has longed to open a restaurant and it was finally time to put the plan into focus. She pressed pause to watch her three beautiful children grow up and enjoyed experimenting with recipes, creating beautiful meals and baked goods to share. After she laid eyes on the historic 47 Phila Street location, she knew this would someday be her own. 

“I always wanted to be home by five o’clock to have dinner with the kids, so I decided to go totally out of my comfort zone and do breakfast.” Sitting on the back patio of 47 Phila Street, which was, at the time a café called Beverly’s, she knew right then that it was going to be hers one day. “This was the space I wanted; this is the space that would only ever work for me, someday I want this space!”  A place that dates back 100 years, solely owned by strong businesswoman. 

After many years of baking for elementary classrooms and neighbors on the block, there was word that Beverly’s was closing their doors. A fire was lit inside Leibers that day, and she began her mission. She wrote up her business plan and went to work. “I just kept at it! I delivered them a big basket of muffins and scones and said can you please consider me. I told them the story of how I sat in this space ten years ago and dreamed of opening Sweet Mimi’s.”

Her determination and hustle got her what she wanted. 47 Phila was now hers and it was time for stage two.

One of the hardest aspects of opening a business was figuring out where to begin. She knew that financial backing was needed from a bank to begin renovations but had no idea about the required permits and regulations for construction on historic buildings.” There were no instructions because everything that you do, whether it is construction, putting up an awning, turning the electric on, there’s a process that you must follow.” This was a hard obstacle to face alone.  

While the space was being transformed, Leibers was busy working to create her special menu. The meals she serves to the community are her family favorites. “The kids and I sat around the kitchen table to write it. The menu was most of what the kids grew up eating, and they would say oh mom you can’t do that, but you must do this! The menu has a lot to do with the children.”

Aside from the stress, nerves, and excitement of opening the doors of Sweet Mimi’s, Leibers was overjoyed by the support she received from her family. Going from a stay-at-home mom to a full-time chef was a big transition. “I had no idea that the first couple of months at the café I was going to be there for about 100 hours a week!” The three kids took shifts where help was needed and developed a program to bring left over food to Shelters of Saratoga. 

Dreams are full of excitement; Leibers has proved that the only way to achieve those dreams is to have grit and determination. Saratoga is full of small business owners, most of them family run. Sweet Mimi’s… founded on family, community, and a love for the city, was an impactful addition to Saratoga. Jeannette Leibers has proven her place and is now another successful café owner of 47 Phila Street.   

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