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Sweetlife Bakery & Cafe Shuts Down

Co-owner of San Anselmo Ave. gathering spot writes, "It is with a heavy heart that I closed the doors to Sweetlife."

Just 15 months after the Sweetlife Bakery & Café began sending a bevy of sweet and savory aromas wafting around San Anselmo Ave., owners Jennifer and Dana Sulprizio have pulled the plug on the popular local gathering spot.

The Sulprizios could not be reached for comment, but Jennifer Sulprizio confirmed the closure on the café’s Facebook page this week.

“It is with a heavy heart that I closed the doors to Sweetlife,” she wrote. “Just as it has been said that ‘Sweetlife was a wonderful addition to the community,’ so too have Sweetlifes' patrons and employees become a wonderful addition to my life. I will remember you always and have cherished the time we spent together. Thank you everyone for your support and kindness.”

A former employee who declined to be named told Patch that Jennifer Sulprizio told employees on Feb. 14 that it was their last day, noting that the rent was too high and that she couldn't keep the place open any longer.  

Sulprizio’s Facebook post drew a number of disappointed commenters, including Heidi Mejía, who wrote: “I am so very sorry. We were there at least once a week, and we grew very fond of everyone. Michael Mejía and I wish everyone our very best, and hope to see you all locally. It would be a terrible shame for San Anselmo to lose such great talents

The Sulprizios have a long history in Marin. They owned the Olema Inn from 1998 to 2007, when they sold it to Carole and Thomas Wiltshire before they moved to Nova Scotia, where Jennifer Sulprizio grew up. The Wiltshires sold the Olema Inn in 2012 to Margaret Grade and Daniel DeLong, who also own the currently closed Manka’s Inverness Lounge.

The Sulprizios returned to Marin and opened Sweetlife in November 2011.

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Bob Hunter February 20, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Sweet Life had a wonderful ambience and a very high quality bakery and food selection. We are sad to see them go.
Bob Hunter February 20, 2013 at 04:13 PM
There is a plan on the table to redevelop San Anselmo Ave south of Ross Ave. It would be nice to see the town move forward with that plan so great businesses like Sweet Life can thrive.
Tucker Murphy February 21, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Really too bad to see it close. It had a nice feel but was quite expensive for what they offered. San Anselmo and Fairfax could stand a fair bit of redevelopment to help local businesses survive.
Arvid P. Sloan February 21, 2013 at 10:55 AM
Greedy landlords. You know who you are and you are bad people.
Cathy Borg February 21, 2013 at 05:17 PM
The landlord owns other buildings on that block and lets some sit vacant for years rather than lowering the rent so that small businesses could move in. Papa Murphy's is one. Another is Chinese Kitchen (or whatever it's called). It is open, but does anyone eat in there? Something shady must be going on in there for them to stay open. And it could be such a great place with potential for outdoor seating.
A February 21, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Two other bakeries have received funding to start up in downtown San Anselmo through online crowd funding websites. Let's hope they open soon and "make it" with a good landlord.
Fred Sanford February 21, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Why is it always the Landlord's fault? Maybe a failed business model should be considered?
John Ferguson February 22, 2013 at 12:19 AM
Any business model has to account for facilities rent. Maybe the story here is that there's not enough local demand for $6 scones to warrant having a bakery in that space. Let's think: that space has had two low margin businesses in there that didn't last long (Sweetlife and the PlayDate cafe). What higher margin business does downtown San Anselmo need in that area? Please don't say a wine bar..
San Anselmo Resident February 22, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Landlord doubled the rent in the first year. San Anselmo needs a vacancy tax. This would send a message to landlords that is unacceptable to keep these properties vacant and to set their properties at market value.
Fred Sanford February 22, 2013 at 05:16 PM
If the rent doubled in the first year as you claim, it was only because the tenant agreed to that sort of adjustment during the lease negotiations. The lease is undoubtedly at least 5 years in length and was negotiated over an extended amount of time prior to execution. The tenant knew what they were agreeing to. The "vacancy tax" is a silly concept that is most likely illegal in theory and by definition a burden on the free market economy. I have no dog in this fight. My family loved Sweet Life. I am just tired of businesses and the community blaming and demonizing commercial property owners when businesses fail.
Bob Hunter February 22, 2013 at 05:30 PM
There are some great conceptual drawings of a re-imagined San Anselmo Ave. south of Ross Ave, including low profile multi use buildings, adding to our specialty business base and adding attractive, low impact homes.
Jim Welte February 22, 2013 at 08:05 PM
A - thanks for your comment. We'd definitely be interested in getting in touch with the possible downtown bakeries for a little story - can you shoot me an email when you get a chance? jimw@patch.com. Thanks again.
BillBob February 22, 2013 at 09:12 PM
There are several quotes in this article from owner Jennifer Sulprizio from the Sweetlife Facebook page, where she also writes: "Sweetlife is in the process of being purchased by vary a qualified, lovely couple that will take our place to new heights. I am happy for the community that the bakery will live on. I am so sad that I will not work every day with some of the best people I've ever known." Jim - Did you not see that comment, or did you omit it intentionally, for not being able to confirm it? Seems like a crucial piece of info that defines the space's future.
Jim Welte February 22, 2013 at 10:17 PM
BillBob - I don't see the quote you're referring to on the Sweetlife Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sweetlife-Bakery-Caf%C3%A9/222136821252831 Can you point me in the right direction?
BillBob February 23, 2013 at 04:22 AM
Jim - It's strange, but it seems that there are two different pages for Sweetlife on FB...here's the one I'm referencing: http://www.facebook.com/SweetlifeBakeryCafe?fref=ts Look at recent posts and make sure you look through all the comments.
Tucker Murphy February 24, 2013 at 07:12 PM
What Fairfax and San Anselmo truly lack is a good pub/grill that is kid friendly where one can watch sports on tv. This building or one of the many vacant buildings could house something like this as a viable business.
BillBob February 27, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Tucker, I could not agree more. A pub/grill/tavern style restaurant and bar is desperately needed. In fact, the moment I walked up to Sweetlife and saw that they had closed, I thought, "hmm, this would be a good spot for the San Anselmo Tavern." Almost everyone I talk to about this agrees. Take note future restauranteurs, no more chi-chi wine bars, but a good old, down-home pub/grill/tavern. The people are practically begging for it.
pelo cycling • fitness March 04, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Sad to see another small business try and fail. Whatever goes into that location needs lots of support! Here's some good business news! Pelo Cycling & Fitness opened in April last year and is doing great! People from all over Marin are having a great time burning fat, getting fit and feeling great. Check out www.pelofitness.com for more info.
George Carewe April 16, 2013 at 09:45 PM
I too wonder when all comments made public blame the landlord. I have been to Sweetlife quite a few times and basically enjoyed it. With all the money they sunk into baking equipment it makes me wonder if their business plan called for selling items wholesale along with running a restaurant and that side of it never got off the ground.
Jennifer July 10, 2013 at 08:56 PM
Thank you George, You are absolutely correct. That was the plan. The truth is I, Jennifer Sulprizio, while loving the Sweetlife and it's patrons, was exhausted and could not physically or emotionally sustain the operation in the long run. Wholesale was just beginning and my bread baker walked out. My landlord is shrewd, no doubt about it, but it was not that alone that lead to my decision. I have two children, age 10 and 13, and within a week of losing my bread baker a parent of my son's classmate mentioned that I had 60 months left with my son before he left for school. This was about the same time that the owner of the Thai restaurant on the other end of San Anselmo passed away. I simply decided that while I loved Sweetlife, ultimately I did not want to sacrifice the time I have with my family for the sake of Sweetlife's success. When I think of Sweetlife now I am saddened that it was so short lived. It was a dream I had since I first baked with my grandmother in Nova Scotia at the age of three. Some stars burn bright and fad fast. That was the case with Sweetlife. Sincerely, Jennifer Sulprizo p.s. To be sure, prospective tenants of San Anselmo should ask themselves why the town has such a high turn over rate and vacancy problem.

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