PORT CHARLOTTE — It’s been almost 14 years to the day since Sweet’s Diner opened on Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte. It was a dream come true for Scott Sweet, who’d worked in restaurants since he was 15, growing up in the Chicago suburbs.
After years in corporate food service, he said that his goal in Florida was to have “a small, hometown mom-and-pop place, a neighborhood restaurant where everyone knows you. Good quantities for a fair price.”
He and Teresa, his wife of 27 years, have more than met that goal.
Their little eatery won a place in the hearts and stomachs of a whole town, and not just because of Sweet’s famous “Pile Up” — a heaping breakfast plate that came with a bumper sticker for customers who managed to finish one.
The Sweets go above and beyond to help others, no questions asked, whenever they can.
For those in need, they place day-old bread in a box on their front bench.
One customer asked for scrapple, so Scott started making it. After another customer was in an accident, he brought food to her home. If regulars don’t show up as usual, Scott calls to make sure they’re OK.
When North Port Mustangs Football & Cheer held fundraisers, Scott donated food for the cheerleaders to sell.
They were the first to open in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, serving breakfast, cash only, first thing in the morning. They kept going until 2 p.m., before many people had their electricity back.
Gov. Rick Scott popped in one Tuesday morning for an impromptu two-hour meet-and-greet during his 2018 Senate campaign. The governor didn’t get a chance to eat, but the staff made him breakfast anyway.
“We made sure he left with some food,” Scott Sweet said with typical kindness. “He had a long day ahead of him, so we made up some to-go boxes for him.”
Now, their friend Michelle Wolfe says, if ever there was a time to give back to the Sweet family, this is it.
Teresa has been fighting COVID-19 since Aug. 12 in Sarasota Memorial Hospital, much of that time in a coma, on a ventilator. Medical bills for her ICU stay alone will be astronomical, in addition to long-term future rehab for severe lung damage.
Scott staunchly maintains his faith in a miracle, while providing updates on the lady he calls “my redhead,” but the financial reality for the family of six is daunting.
“Scott is doing an amazing job of running the diner and keeping the family running smoothly,” Wolfe wrote on the GoFundMe page “Teresa’s Medical,” which she organized.
“Please pass the word and donate if you can. No amount is too small. If you can’t donate please, please share this page and pray for Teresa, Scott, Jayden, Carson, Laney and Payton.”