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Thursday, February 22 News

Saugatuck summer nights: With music, new sweets shop treats customers to more than just desserts

The sweetest part of this Saugatuck hot spot may very well be the people it attracts.

Thanks to the new Saugatuck Sweets store on Riverside Avenue, visitors have begun gathering weekend evenings on a patio near the river to enjoy free mini concerts sponsored by the business.

Last Friday, nearly 100 people enjoyed the warm summer night with sweet treats and mellow music.

"It's really pretty to look at," 7-year-old Josie Pines of Westport said of the water views as she had some ice cream with her family.

"It's a beautiful place to spend an evening," said Pat Leahy of Westport, who brought his family for ice cream and stayed for the sounds and views.

"The setting, the river view, the people watching, the music," said his wife Raleigh, extolling everything except the parking, which she said was becoming more challenging because of the growing attractions in the booming Saugatuck area.

"We wanted to be a safe place where people of all ages could come on a summer night," said Al DiGuido, a marketing entrepreneur who opened Saugatuck Sweets in early May with his wife Chris and their friend Peter Romano.

The store itself features an array of desserts and treats, including ice cream and candies. "What we wanted to do was create a place where you could have dessert," he said, but also have options. "We wanted to be multi-dimensional."

"It's fantastic," said Stephen Tusa of New Canaan, who with his family also frequents The Whelk restaurant next door. "This whole area is great, what they've done with it. It's a great place to come and be outside and listen to some music."

"It really works well for us," said Stephanie Sweeney, assistant manager of The Whelk.

"The majority of the time people really do enjoy it," she said, and many find waiting for a table at the popular restaurant more enjoyable with the open-air concerts.

Sweeney said the two establishments try to complement one another, and send business the other's way.

Of the music, she said, "It brings people to this center, which is all we're looking for."

"It's definitely a great location," said Jerome Goosman of Wilton, one of the musicians playing a gratis concert at the venue Friday in cooperation with Danbury-based the Celebrity Voice Coach organization.

"It's a great venue," said Darryel Pratt of Brookfield, who also performed. "It's a beautiful night (and) very appreciative people to perform in front of."

DiGuido said he planned the new shop as "a great idea to bring the community together."

"It's a lovely venue for people of all ages to come to," said Laurie Nelson-Austin, who has lived in Westport for about 40 years. "You get to enjoy being on the lovely Saugatuck River and it actually gives a sense of community.

"It's brilliant."

Saugatuck Sweets is at 575 Riverside Ave. For information, call 203-642-4615 or visit www.saugatucksweets.com.