When Nouhad Hamdan saw 410 South Sterling Blvd. for lease, he knew just what to do.
After 36 years of work as a heating and air conditioning craftsman, Nouhad Hamdan suffered many back and knee injuries. With backaches and pains and increasing family expenses, Nouhad Hamdan knew he need to make a career move.
"I decided to open an ice-cream shop," he said. "We donÕt have anything like this in Sterling Park."
Nouhad Hamdan opened Sweet Tooth Ice Cream Shop in Sterling Plaza two weeks ago, with the help of his wife, Sanaa Hamdan, and four children.
"When my health would not allow me to do what I wanted to do, I worried how I would send my children to college. As a parent, you worry. How am I going to support my family?" Nouhad Hamdan said. "Now, I feel like a huge stone has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel good about doing what IÕm doing."
WHEN CUSTOMERS enter the shop, Nouhad Hamdan offers them a cup of coffee, 'free of charge.'
He likes to offer customers samples of more than 10 different flavors, ranging from traditional chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, to exotic flavors like guava, mango and papaya.
Sweet Tooth's exotic flavors appeal to Sterling Park's Latin American population.
Hamdan offers flavors like Lucama, a yellow fruit found in Peru.
"Most people are surprised to find Lucama here," Nouhad Hamdan said. "It's usually a treat they only can get at home."
The store owner gets his ice cream from longtime Sterling resident Lester Doerstler of Sylvia's Homemade Ice Cream Factory in Sterling.
In the evenings, Sanaa Hamdan and her four children, Noora, 17, Firas, 15, Molly, 11, and Mona, 8, help serve customers at the shop.
Noora Hamdan is a junior at Park View High School. When the final bell rang at school Monday, Noora crossed the street to her father's shop, to help him scoop ice cream. She, like her father, enjoyed giving samples to new customers.
Firas, Molly and Mona chased their dog, Mario, around the front of the shop.
Thirty-six years ago, Hamdan moved from Beirut, Lebanon, to the United States. He and his wife have been raising a family in Sterling Park ever since. The Hamdan children attend Forest Grove Elementary School and Park View High School.
"This is a family business," Hamdan said. "Everybody's welcome. I'm a nice guy."
STERLING RESIDENTS Jim Turk and Roberta Turk have been to the shop several times. This past Monday, the Turk's visited the shop again, to try a few new flavors and Sanaa Hamdan's homemade baklava, a sweet pastry. While Sanaa Hamdan cut a piece of baklava for Jim Turk, Roberta Turk enjoyed a waffle cone of homemade ice cream.
"This is gourmet ice cream. Like being in Europe," Roberta Turk said. "It's a great place to hang out. The family is so friendly. I feel like I'm at a cafe in Paris."
"It's adult ice cream," Jim Turk added. "Fresh, quality ingredients. Hard to find."
For now, Nouhad Hamdan depends on word of mouth to draw customers to the shop. In a few weeks, he and his family will plan a grand opening for the community.
"I really do believe in this ice cream. I can see it in the people's faces after they try it," Hamdan said. "I used to say it's the best ice cream in Sterling. Then, I said it's the best ice cream in the country. I truly believe it's the best ice cream in the world!"