So the developers assembled a group of investors and approached Lisa and her husband, Wei—they opened the original Sweetwaters at Washington and Ashley in 1993—about buying a franchise. The Bees agreed, and the new Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea was scheduled to open in Plymouth Green Crossings in late January.
It’s the second franchise for the coffeehouse: townie Chris Hutton opened the first in Kerrytown in 2005. Unlike Hutton, who runs the Kerrytown store himself, the Plymouth Green Crossings franchisees have no restaurant experience, so they asked the Bees to run the store for them. Lisa says she and Wei will divide their time equally between the downtown and north-side locations.
The cafe will have the same menu of specialty coffees and teas and the same vaguely Asian decor as the original, with lots of blond wood and a tranquil sense of spare, open space. “Sweetwaters is not a hundred percent Asian concept, but definitely we have a lot of Asian influence because we are Chinese,” Lisa says. The official grand opening celebration on January 31 is planned to be full-on Asian: it’s also a Chinese New Year’s celebration with lion dancers, Chinese dancers, Chinese yo-yos, and more.