Osmond sisters plan SweetBerrie's future
By Mike Sanford. GLOB Editor
ith a life of sharing birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and family parties, the last thing Janice Easton and Jane Osmond were thinking of was celebrating five years of operating their very own restaurant: SweetBerries Eatery and Frozen Custard.
Growing up in the Tampa Bay area and observing father and son operate their SweetBerries Frozen Custard shop prepared the sisters for most of the unusual daily happenings that can turn a normally easy day of fast casual lunches into a frantic, pull-your-hair-out adventure.
"It seemed like we had everything working smoothly a few years back when one morning our chef called in sick and it was up to me to make lunch for a restaurant full of hungry customers." Janice said. "It was terrible -- long lines waiting to order, even more customers waiting on me to make their lunch," she remembered with a look of despair.
SweetBerries is celebrating five years of serving frozen custard and a complete menu of meals to patrons of this one-of-a-kind lunch stop.
With a lunch menu of sandwiches and salads, this lunch stop is more than the perfect frozen dessert stand. In the GLOB Master's opinion, the SweetBerries Wisconsin Grilled Cheese is one of the better GCSs in Gainesville.
A Grilled Cheese and frozen custard Flavor of the Day (Today's flavor is Blueberry Muffin) lunch on their new patio is a delightful experience.
Gainesville's Lunch Out Blog was lucky to strike up a friendship with the SB's sisters when they opened the restaurant five years ago. Former GLOB staffers at the time Tony Upton, left, and Kendall Crews, center and I were lucky enough to enjoy some of the first SweetBerries frozen custerd, GLOBers. Now, about that SweetBerries frozen custard according to the 'Berries website:
"Frozen custard is fresh made ice cream that has a small amount of egg yolk in the mix. We make our frozen custard fresh at least twice a day. We start with our own frozen custard recipe and use a slow churned process to create dense, thick ice cream that is not full of air like other frozen desserts. Our frozen custard tastes like premium ice cream without as much fat. We always have three flavors on our menu: vanilla, chocolate, and a flavor of the day. Visit the flavor calendar to see what we're serving up today."
These accomplished women are more than just frozen custard scoopers and servers. With multiple degrees and proven business savvy Janice and Jane paid their educational dues across a spectrum of majors:
Jane received her BS at UF in Biology, an AS in Respiratory Therapy from Houston Community College, and MPH (Public Health) from Independence University. A foodie from the start Ms. Osmond also acquired an AS in Culinary Arts from the Art Institute of Houston
Janice acquired a BS in Wildlife Ecology, a Masters degree in Extension Ed, plus a Masters degree in Forest Resource Conservation, all from UF.
The sisters are not afraid of 'start-up business anxiety' having created their own company. Before Jane moved to Gainesville in 2012 she and Janice joined forces doing program evaluation work in a company they started called Evaluation by Design. With Janice's expertise and experience in program evaluation for environmental education programs and Jane's background in public health program evaluation they provided evaluation work for environmental education programs with a public health component. Jane states "We probably have a more critical eye in looking at "results" in our restaurant business than some local restaurateurs,
Both sisters can credit their backgrounds for a focus on healthy and fresh and their driving need to recycle everything that comes out of the kitchen. Especially Janice, above image right,who is fanatical about not letting recyclables go into the trash. “We’ve got a ways to go in our desire to be more environmentally friendly, so we’re still working on it,” Jane said.
"It has been a real experience working with Janice," Jane said. "Even today we shared a real sense of what the other 'partner' is doing and how we can complement each other's objectives," Jane added.
"Having a restaurant has been a challenge, every single day. But we have a great product that was developed by our family almost 20 years ago and is still a crowd pleaser today," Jane said. "For us now, its all about the execution. We haven't achieved perfection, but after 5 years, we're getting there," Jane added chuckling to herself.
Asking Jane the 'good and bad' times question, she immediately spoke of an instance of sandwich making for the masses
"At the time, it was the biggest catering job," Jane said, image above. "My eyes cross thinking about making the hundreds of sandwiches all night long five nights in a row to have them ready for delivery early the next morning," she added.
Things are looking bright for the next five years, with pre-made meals ready-for-delivery plans on the lunch counter.
"Pre-cooked, delivered, healthy meal plans is an interesting restaurant trend we want to pursie," Janice said. "It makes sense since we have all the components ready to serve you lunch/dinner at home or your office GLOB Master," she added.
Jane's focus veered away from lunch: "I would like to expand our breakfast menu. With all the local food partners, a yummy, fast breakfast of wraps, sandwiches, and egg entrees will work here surrounded by so many apartment dwellers,"
I love the SB sandwiches, and the Frozen Custard Flavor of the Day calendar is special. I just had to ask Jane and Janice what were their favorite frozen custard flavors.
"It has to be Toasted Coconut Almond Chip," Janice said. "Oh my Mike, have you tried it?" she queried with a smile.
"I am in the middle of a new diet, but I could eat the Amaretto Crunch flavor every day," Jane said unashamedly.