“It‘s Like Being a Kid in a Candy Store” Oh, the joy of being in Sweet Luna’s!
by RONA MANN
Photos by Stephanie Sittnick
It’s just plain fun.
Disney World claims to be “the happiest place on earth,” but if you’re really in search of human bliss, you might be surprised to know you can find it without hopping a jet to Florida…in fact, it’s just down the road.
Doreen Day is more than a proprietor. She’s a human billboard, smiling, grabbing hands, greeting patrons the moment they come through the door at Sweet Luna’s in Old Saybrook. “Welcome to Sweet Luna’s!” she fairly sings out. And it’s not a rehearsed bit of patter; it is as genuine as the woman herself. As genuine as the happiest staff in town who work with Doreen. And absolutely as genuine as the product they present. We say “present,” because at Sweet Luna’s, the staff is there merely to facilitate a fun experience; it is the customer who sells himself, because the product sells itself.
In a delicious nutshell, Sweet Luna’s is a self-serve frozen yogurt shop, but that’s like saying the Empire State is a tall building. You have to see it for yourself. Throw open wide that door, and your senses are happily assaulted with splashes of color….pink, blue, a bit of
green, and everywhere there are those eyes staring longingly at you…the eyes of Luna, an enchanting four year old Labrador Retriever for whom the shop was named. Luna is the heart and sole of this delightful emporium of joy, her visage peering down at the customer who is about to choose a flavor or two or four of
delicious, all natural frozen yogurt. Her images adorn the walls, and a screen well placed behind the counter continuously flashes a slideshow of this photogenic canine you just can’t help instantaneously loving. Luna is Doreen Day’s dog, but in truth she belongs to everyone who frequents Sweet Luna’s.
Day was previously in the construction business, but as she succinctly put it, “We didn’t give up on the construction business. The construction business gave up on us. Due to the economic slowdown, not too many custom homes were being built in this area anymore. It was time to start something new.” And after conferring with her sons who had thought about opening a frozen yogurt shop, Sweet Luna’s was born little more than a year ago. Day had made the leap from bricks and mortar to frozen yogurt and toppings, and what a leap it was.
“Everything we have is real, not from a mix,” Day points out with pride. “We have five culture strains of yogurt with three probiotics. It is all OU Kosher. We have 30 flavors of fresh frozen yogurt that we rotate on a continuous basis, but we always have vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, and California tart, our customers’ favorites.”
Happy customers who serve themselves can mix and match all they want, then visit the toppings section where more than 30 toppings and mix-ins include choices like trail mix, chopped up waffle cones, pretzels, Fruit Loops, Oreos, M & Ms in a variety of flavors, Reese’s Pieces, chocolate covered raisins, locally made toffee, chocolate chips…as Luna herself “says,” the possibilities are endless!
Doreen Day and staff carefully cater to all tastes, all ages, all food allergies and considerations. Every day there are four or five fresh cut fruits
to complement the yogurt choice. There are toppings of low fat granola and unsalted nuts.”You can be as good or bad as you want,” laughs Day, who points out that most of the yogurts are either low fat or no fat with just half the calories of regular ice cream, but always carefully labeled. All but one are gluten free, and that is prominently displayed. “All the toppings are kept separate in their own sealed containers, so anyone with a nut allergy is not going to be affected by an open container or dust in the air.”
“I have an incredible team!” Doreen enthuses, half off her chair. “I have people from high school to middle age working here, and they’re all great. I give everyone whatever day off they want, so people aren’t calling out. They like coming to work.”
As if on cue, two young employees, carrying balloons and wearing big smiles
come by. Brittany and Kelly relate that just days ago seven employees were allowed to go to a Dave Matthews concert they all really wanted to see “while Doreen worked for us and closed that night.” The respect and affection they have between employer and employee is mutual and evident. They embrace the fun, love to educate new customers with all the free samples they wish to try, enjoy dressing a stuffed animal version of Luna in outfits of the season, and “when there’s nothing to do, we clean.”
Boy, do they! Sweet Luna’s fairly sparkles from floor to ceiling and everywhere in between. No sticky handles, no cloudy windows, no counter spills. Asking if they like their job seems frivolous. “It’s like being a kid in a candy store every day,” says Brittany with a giant smile, disappearing behind a trail of colorful balloons.
The customer is definitely in charge at Sweet Luna’s from the time they select their cup till they check out. “Some people want the same flavor every time,” Day informs. “Others will take a cup and select four different flavors. That’s fine. That’s what they want.” And then
there’s the famous Luna Eclipse, where the lucky guest puts as many different yogurts, fruits, toppings, and mix-ins in one cup, and it’s all blended like a smoothie. “So you create your own delicious concoction.”
If there’s a happier business owner in Old Saybrook they’d have to prove it to Doreen, whom many of the kids call “Miss Luna.” She delights in the fact that Sweet Luna’s has become
not only a popular and happy place, but a place of reward. “Kids getting their braces off, come here. If a student does well in school or gets a high mark on a test, their parents bring them here.” And Day enjoys being part of the vibrant downtown Old Saybrook community. She is a part of every downtown event, happily passing out samples on the street and creating promotions to get traffic in the store. Once they come in, it’s obvious they’re hooked on this good-for- you fun treat. And it’s not just kids, either!
“We cater to people of all ages because, who doesn’t like this?” Doreen asks. “We have vegans, dieters, we have people with allergies, we have adults, kids, seniors…there’s something for everyone at Sweet Luna’s.” And that includes dogs who are always invited to come by with their owners for a “pup cup.”
Every day seems like a party since Doreen and her happy team are always ready to blow up the balloons, fill the goody bags, and pass out the cups for parties of any size… and any age. “I have a customer whose husband is turning 60. She wants to have a surprise party here for him because he loves Sweet Luna’s!”
Recently the owner of the building that houses the shop embarked upon a complete facelift, giving it a more modern and inviting look, but keeping it under active construction for 12 weeks. “It was all torn up in front, but it didn’t matter,” says Doreen with a big smile. “My regular customers trudged through the back lot. They just had to get in.”
When you think about it, life all too often scoops out dark days and low moments, but the sun’s always shining at Sweet Luna’s in Old Saybrook…the second happiest place on earth.
It’s just fun.
Get your licks in at Sweet Luna’s, 139 Main Street in the heart of Old Saybrook (860) 391-8194 Web: www.SweetLunas.com
You’re gonna have fun!