By Jennifer Von Ohlen
DARWIN, MN There is a new place to satisfy one’s sweet tooth as Liz Lhotka, 17, of Darwin has recently opened her own business: the Queen Bee Bakery and Tea Room.
The business is located at 520 E US Hwy 12, suite 110 in Litchfield, and offers a variety of treats such as German chocolate cake, turtle cookies, and so-berry-delicious cupcakes.
Lhotka’s time in the kitchen started at a young age when she would visit her great-grandmother, Dorothy Johnson in Glencoe, and they would bake molasses cookies together.
“She showed me everything,” recalled Lhotka. “[She] taught me the basic measurements and how to do things, and it just kinda started from there.”
By age 9, Lhotka was baking her own speciality breads and treats, and eventually added cakes to the mix.
While she had mainly been using her baking and cooking skills for herself and her family, her first business opportunity arrived at age 15.
Lhotka had been chatting with Sue Johnson of Litchfield when the conversation turned to the baked goods she had made in the past. In learning the details, Johnson asked if Lhotka could make a cake for her daughter, who was returning home from college. Lhotka agreed.
While that single cake was Lhotka’s first job, a two-tiered cake accompanied by 300 mini chocolate cheesecakes was her second order. It was for a wedding.
“It was a little stressful, but it was a lot of fun,” Lhotka stated.
The orders continued to flow in from there, turning Queen Bee Bakery into an official business and keeping Lhotka busy and successful enough to move from the family kitchen to a space in Litchfield.
The business is now called Queen Bee Bakery and Tea Room.
Queen Bee Bakery and Tea Room
Having officially opened its doors April 3, Lhotka said she is excited for the new opportunities the Litchfield space allows the Queen Bee Bakery and Tea Room to offer, such as hot and cold beverages and lunch items.
Lhotka is also excited to be able to display some of her baked creations for customers to see as they come in for a bite, or to pick up an order.
While an extensive and detailed menu can be found on the business’s website, Lhotka said she’ll do “pretty much anything people come up with,” whether it is a certain theme or design, or involves a special family recipe.
One order that particularly resignates with Lhotka was a young boy’s order for a Pokémon-style cake.
“When I brought it out to him, he started crying because he loved it so much,” stated Lhotka, adding that seeing the customers’ reaction toward their finished order is her favorite part of the business.
She continued, “It keeps me going; makes it all worth it for me.”
While Lhotka does the main baking and decorating, she relies heavily on her family members to help keep up with the orders.
“It’s a family business,” she said. “My [older] sister [Jessica] helps me with the baking and icing, and my mom [Pam] runs the computer and phone, and handles the orders.” Lhotka’s younger sisters, Bea and Cece, also help out by completing random tasks and busing tables.
“It’s just a lot of fun for me,” said Lhotka. “I mean, it’s not really work if you’re having fun, right?”
For more information on the Queen Bee Bakery and Tea Room, call (320) 221-5132, or visit queenbeebakery1.wixsite.com/cake.