Danielle and Brent Sweatman understand the complicated relationship between sobriety and the food and beverage space. The couple, who have worked in the industry for years, are two years sober.
“We knew how it feels to be uncomfortable with limited options and wanted to change that,” said Danielle, who with her husband Brent, opened Sweatman’s Garden — a sodary and fondue Lounge at 90 Folly Road Boulevard in the South Windermere Shopping Center.
Brent said they chose the location for a few reasons.
“We live in West Ashley and have been living in Byrnes Down for about five years. Because we love our community, we wanted to provide a cool hangout spot close to home for both drinkers and non-drinkers.”
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According to Brent, he and his wife were happy to fill a much-needed niche in the community.
“There are so many young people in the area that are becoming part of the sober curious movement and it was important to us to provide an inclusive space for the people that would want to take advantage of it,” he said.
And with the rise of mocktail culture, their timing couldn’t be better. According to research conducted by NielsenIQ, the non-alcoholic beverage sector is expanding rapidly as alcohol consumption declines, with popularity soaring over the past five years — a trend driven by Gen Z and millennials.
An Instagram-worthy experience
When the couple moved into what was Florence’s Lowcountry Kitchen, they were presented with a tabula rasa, enabling Danielle, as she says, “to go wild.”
She transformed plain, white walls into ones with a dark green hue and festooned them with dozens of thriving plants. Quirky and colorful seating areas are Instagram-worthy, like the attractive curved yellow couch which faces tufted lilac chairs and is separated by a ‘70s-era coffee table.
“We set them up to appear like little living rooms,” said Danielle, adding that she loves maximalism and color. “I was inspired by an art-deco, 70s funky vibe,” she said.
Brent is no stranger to libation creation, having helped open the King Street Diner known as the Rarebit featuring homemade ginger beer, tonic, sodas and bitters.
“We’re doing 12 different taps, featuring our tonic and ginger beer and additional playful, fun stuff when it comes to our sodas, like plum rose citrus and a delicious habanero fresca sweetened with monk fruit, which is currently getting a lot of love, along with our root beer,” said Danielle.
For an additional $5, customers can add their choice of alcohol, or a cannabis-based infusion to their sodas. Sometimes customers opt for both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages in the same evening.
“I’ve seen some of them take a non-alcohol root beer break from drinking,” said Danielle
The couple also decided to offer a limited menu featuring fondue.
“We’re serving savory fondue, like Mediterranean and beer cheese and also offering sweet options like white chocolate and milk chocolate,” said Danielle, explaining that she loves cheese and chocolate, but that they also wanted to make the menu a fun, interactive experience that doesn’t take staff too much time to create. For now, the business employs a total of seven staff members.
As for the future, Danielle said they are working on finding their bearings at the moment. “We were intentionally a little mysterious about being open to see what worked and what didn’t, but we may consider live entertainment in the future, if all goes well,” she said.
Stefanie Kalina-Metzger is a contributing writer for SC Biz News.