By Associate Editor Shannon Taylor
Sitting off the road just a half mile from Court Square in Dresden is a quaint little place that just opened up for business. The Swanky Bee is a pizza restaurant on the surface but offers so much more than just a simple slice of pie.
The owners, Mike and Jenny Blom, moved from Camden to Dresden three years ago, coming back to Jenny’s hometown with no intentions of even starting a pizza place. Jenny, formerly Jenny Summers, grew up in Dresden before moving to Benton County for 25 years.
Jenny said she saw the place go up for rent, which she said was actually built by her great uncle E. J. Winstead who ran the lumber yard. Jenny said she was drawn to the building because of family and she prayed about it for a long time until someone turned it into a barbeque place. She said she remembered being really disappointed until it suddenly became available again.
Jenny said that the original thought for the place was not to be a restaurant but a place to do freeze dried candy with a commercial kitchen. The Bloms said the building was so big that they knew they could do so much more with it than just freeze-dried candy. Mike said that he’d always wanted a pizza restaurant, so they started looking into what all that entailed and they said, “things just started lining up and we knew we had to do this.”
Why The Swanky Bee? “The bee itself is something very special between me and my brother who passed away in 2015,” Jenny said. “Swanky came up because we were trying to find something catchy and swanky means classy and that’s what we want to stand for,” Mike said.
Opening day was Aug. 25 and for the 17 days they have been open thus far, the Bloms said they have sold out for many of those days. The Swanky Bee is open Wednesday-Saturday every week with many different menu options at affordable prices. “To provide a quality product we use fresh vegetables; we don’t buy anything frozen or chopped. We even prepare our chicken fresh. We want to remind people that this is a quality meal and it’s not fast food so sometimes there’s going to be a wait, but I promise we’re going to do our best to make sure it’s worth waiting for. We have quality food that takes time to prepare. We want everyone to have a fresh, quality product,” Jenny emphasized.
The Bloms said that for right now they are only doing dine in and carry out, but that they hope to expand in the future to offer delivery services. “We’re thinking about it, praying about it and trying to figure it out.”
The Bloms said they started out slow with the menu by only having 5 pizzas to choose from and they’ve slowly built up from there to having chicken, breadsticks, cheesy bread and desserts. “We’re hoping to add salad and pasta soon. We keep adding and we just want to provide a good service and give people what they want. We’re always open to comments and suggestions,” Jenny said. They are also looking to book local live music for Friday and Saturday nights.
Along with the restaurant, Jenny also supplies freeze dried candy to numerous businesses — her candy is even in the gift shop at Discovery Park of America. Jenny said that they are considering just selling the candy at the restaurant due to difficulties keeping up with the supply and demand and all the driving that comes with it.
The Bloms said they got started making freeze-dried candy because of their daughter, who saw it on Tik Tok. They purchased some off Amazon and at a fair and decided that they could just do it themselves and went and bought a freeze drier. They started selling at festivals, at Paris Old Country Mall and Jenny said, “It rapidly got to a point where I could hardly keep up and had to buy two more freeze drier machines.”
The Swanky Bee also houses a little boutique shop off to the corner where Jenny said the goal is for it to be a gift shop that holds items all under $25 so that everyone can afford cute, nice things. They have clothing from newborn to 3T, devotionals, bible covers, inspirational gifts, candles and homemade gifts. “We really want to hone in on local artisans and give them an opportunity to have a place to sell their items to the community.”
The building sits on an acre of land and the Bloms said that they will also have an event venue. “We want to utilize the outside space as well — so we’d like to do small “micro weddings” and we have so much space outside and in and our heart we believe that everybody deserves a pretty wedding, birthday party, or wedding shower and so we have the ability and the space to provide that and we want to do that without having to break the bank.”
The Bloms stressed that the building is available for the community. “If people want to come and have a meeting or come have a holiday meal we’re available for that too — to utilize this space for the community.” Private events can be reserved for days when the restaurant is closed, but smaller events can be reserved during regular hours. “We want people to enjoy it like we do,” they said.
Jenny said, “Now we have our event venue, our freeze-dried candy, our bakery, our boutique and our restaurant all in one.”
The Bloms are planning to do a grand opening/ribbon cutting in October and they are looking forward to the community attending the event. “We are thankful to be here and the outpouring of the community has been amazing.”
The Bloms can be contacted through their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100093063575165