After 11 years, it's finally time to turn out the lights on the dessert case. Something Sweet Dessert Lounge is shutting its doors — and unlike a similar scene in 2011, it looks like this is the restaurant's last gasp.
Something Sweet began its life in 2003 as something simple: A laid-back, comfortable place for people to hang out and enjoy a slice of pie and some tea, borne from conversations between owners Robin Barbara and Rebecca Hammon and their friends. With a long menu of dessert items, a huge tea list and stacks of board games, Something Sweet was designed for everyone, whether or not they had a sweet tooth. It didn't hurt that the shop filled a late-night niche for eastside-based Tucsonans who wanted to hang out 'til 2 a.m. without pulling up a stool at a bar.
While Something Sweet accumulated huge popularity (including seven straight reader-voted Best of Tucson® honors), it wasn't immune to the crashing economy. In early 2011, Hammon and Barbara announced to their customers that they had no choice other than to shut down.
That changed, however, during what they planned to be their final weekend in business.
From "Something Sweet Dessert Lounge Is Staying Open: Extended Version" (The Range, May 2, 2011):
"You should have heard this place when we stood up and said, 'We are the former owners of Something Sweet, and we are here to tell you that this place is going to stay open." said Hammon ... "There are angels out there, and they came in and saved this business."
That angel was a new owner who purchased the business from the couple, saving Tucson's late-night dessert lounge and its staff. Hammon and Barbara were retained as managers to help ease the restaurant into its future.
The changes came quickly. Something Sweet began to open at midday, expanding from their previous nighttime-focused strategy. Menus opened up, including savory items for those who preferred cheese soup to cheesecake on their lunch break. Before long, Barbara and Hammon stepped away, allowing the business to move on without them. Barbara still looks back on her time there fondly, recalling a day that a customer approached the shop just as it opened.
He said that he was planning to take his girlfriend out for the evening: First to dinner, then to Something Sweet for dessert. There, he would leave a dozen roses and a ring, trusting them to hold onto it for him until they got back. At the end of the night, he would ask his girlfriend to marry him.
And while that evening stands out, ("By the way, she said yes" Barbara says), the former owner's favorite memory was of standing in the kitchen and listening out into the dining room where her vision was realized: Tucsonans were there, eating, drinking tea, playing games and enjoying themselves. She simply appreciates "knowing that we made that happen."
New memories will come to an end soon: According to a June 6 Facebook announcement, Something Sweet is closing this month. They plan to holding a full menu through June 15, with a manager telling the Weekly that they expect to shut down on the 23rd.
This time, there don't appear to be any angels on the horizon. Unless that changes, and Something Sweet is once again pulled from the brink, Tucson's late-night dessert shop will become another statistic, eliminating one more cap to date nights, one more place to tackle a food challenge, and one more place for Tucsonans to gather around a table and spend time with their friends.