Sweet Life Patisserie and Sweet Life Petite reopened with limited hours May 2 after receiving a Paycheck Protection Program loan.
The two Sweet Life locations closed March 24 due to a downturn in sales related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Catherine Reinhart, who co-owns Sweet Life with her sister Cheryl Reinhart, says dwindling business and the chaos of retraining employees to follow evolving sanitary protocols made staying open too difficult. “We decided that it just made sense to shut the doors and kind of regroup.”
The bakery is open for business only after implementing safety precautions to protect customers and staff at their Monroe Street and East 19th Avenue locations. Catherine Reinhart says the bakery has put together a COVID-19 task force that is meeting weekly to discuss the latest safety rules. Sanitation stations, keeping a six-foot distance and limiting the number of people allowed in the store are all part of the bakery’s defense strategy.
Sweet Life received its Paycheck Protection loan in mid-April after a “slightly cumbersome” application process, according to Catherine Reinhart. Cheryl Reinhart had to fill out two Paycheck Protection Program applications before they were granted the loan. The sisters were surprised and delighted to get the “mini bailout.”
“It was a relief,” Catherine Reinhart says. “We were just expecting to go into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt for this.” The loan covers major costs such as rent, utilities, health insurance and payroll through June 8, according to Catherine Reinhart. The loan has also enabled Sweet Life to give their employees hazard pay — a $5-an-hour raise.
Sweet Life redid the kitchen floor during the month-long closure and made adjustments to its menu. Catherine Reinhart said some items were discontinued and other recipes were improved. A chocolate walnut brownie made its debut on May 2 along with several other new items.
The Reinhart sisters are extremely excited to reopen. “This is the fun part,” Catherine says.
They weren’t the only ones looking forward to the reopening. Catherine Reinhart has received multiple calls from regulars saying they miss the neighborhood bakeries. “We’ve gotten so many customers saying we are so excited and we’ve been waiting and Sweet Life is essential,” Catherine Reinhart says.
Sweet Life Patisserie is open daily from 8 am to 8 pm at the Monroe Street location. Sweet Life Petite on East 19th Avenue is open from 10 am to 6 pm daily.