Sweet Oaks Bakery + Bistro in Collins, Iowa opens Tuesday


When Jenny Oaks started baking and decorating custom cakes at her tiny bakery in Collins, she didn’t realize how quickly her business would grow. The latest expansion adds a sit-down bistro and is slated to open on June 1.

The custom bakery, which started in January 2020, expanded in November 2020 to include a selection of convenient dishes. On Tuesday, the business expands to include the neighboring building as the restaurant becomes Sweet Oaks Bakery + Bistro.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was little. It seems so surreal now that it’s actually happening, ”Oaks said.

Jenny’s husband Jake also works in the culinary industry, so “I hope later on I can take care of my baked goods and cakes and stuff, and he can take care of the food.” “

Oaks recently purchased the building attached to his bakery, which was originally a convenience store and more recently a bar. They created a door in the interior wall attaching the two buildings, and the former bakery space will be its extended kitchen. The main exterior door will bring customers into the new bistro, where they can sit and have a meal or a treat.

Bakery products will also be displayed in crates in this room.

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Oaks plans to open the bistro on June 1, but she noted that construction delays could cause that date to be postponed. Check the Sweet Oaks Bakery + Bistro Facebook page for updates on opening details.

“We’ll have burgers and chicken wraps,” Oaks said. “I have a chicken and bacon sandwich which is very popular. A Philly cheesesteak. There is a turkey, bacon and avocado wrap that will be on the menu.

“We will have salads, soups and sandwiches. We all make our own breads. We have cinnamon rolls. I will have a counter to put my desserts and my bread so that people can buy them. “

That’s a lot of fresh food – not fried – she says. “I don’t even have a deep fryer.”

Oaks gets ground beef Vaughn Farms, which is located in the Maxwell countryside. “Beef makes amazing burgers,” she says.

She gets sausages from Golly’s Locker at Maxwell. “I make my sausage sauce for the cookies and gravy from that,” Oaks said.

And Oaks plans to have homemade ice cream from Frozen in time, a new local food truck.

“I have a creamy tomato soup that people love, baked potato soup, cheese potato soup,” she says. “I don’t even use recipes. I just found something and I’m doing it.

“I’ll have chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes – lots of cupcakes. I’m going to put some new flavors in it, and we’ll have our Mississippi mud and our raspberries and almonds.

Mississippi Mud is a chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting, chocolate ganache, Oreos, and marshmallows on top. Raspberry Almond, a white almond cake with almond buttercream and raspberry jam, is “by far the most popular cupcake we have,” she says.

Oaks will take fewer custom cake orders, but will still have cakes and cupcakes in crates, available for purchase.

The bistro side of the building has been updated on almost every surface. Two large metal pillars in the middle of the room have been converted into a bar-height study table with electrical outlets available for recharging devices.

Pressed wildflowers have been incorporated into part of the design, including the study table. The flowers were collected by Welch’s grandmother, Betty Eckroad from Ames. “It was really great to be able to use these flowers in things like the top of our study table,” Oaks said.

How Jenny Oaks’ business grew

“I’ve been in the restaurant business since I was 14,” Oaks said. “I’ve been doing this for about 13 years now, so I’ve pretty much always worked in a kitchen.”

Now 27, Oaks took about two years off and was a stay-at-home mom to her two children, Owen, now 4, and Lillie, now 3.

“I felt like I was losing myself and wanted to come back to it,” she said. “This building for the bakery has become available, so I thought to myself: You know what? Let’s go and see what happens. “

In January 2020, she opened Sweet Oaks Bakeshoppe at 601 First Ave. to Collins.

It started out as a hobby more than a business. She loved to bake and decorate personalized cakes and cupcakes. Her children could come to her apartment building – a former car wash – and she created a small playground for them at the front of the bakery.

“It didn’t take very long for it to get overwhelming,” Oaks said. “I started to get busier and busier and then COVID hit.”

Many orders for Oaks custom cakes were abandoned because people were not having parties. But then something happened, she said, and people started ordering cupcakes and cupcakes like crazy. It got to the point where she couldn’t follow the commands on her own.

She brought in two of her friends as employees, Darcey Kellogg and Marissa Welch, both from Collins.

Around the same time, Maxwell Market in the Park investigated whether Oaks would like to participate in this farmers’ market – a market that quickly grew and became a popular raffle with large turnouts and dozens. of sellers.

“I think a lot of sellers just wanted a bit of normalcy in their lives during Covid,” she said. “And I think it was also a good thing to attract people to the small towns.”

Oaks started at the First Maxwell Market last year and has been there every Sunday last year.

“It really helped me launch my business,” she said. “Since then, my business has really exploded.”

Soon after, customers started asking for meals as well as baked goods.

Again, Oaks said, let’s go.

In November 2020, she added handy menu items – custom sandwiches made fresh on homemade bread and rolls, breakfast items in the hottest for take out, take out and bake in. the cooler. And cakes and cupcakes continued to be popular items.

“It was absolutely crazy to see him turn into something much bigger than I ever imagined,” Oaks said.

As her business grew, she was able to use the income to purchase new equipment for her kitchen. “Everything here is things I’ve worked for to pay for and my business has provided its own growth,” Oaks said, looking around his kitchen.

Sweet Oaks Bakery + Bistro, 601 First Ave. at Collins, will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

“It’s possible that later on we would add Sundays for breakfast and lunch, and it’s possible we would have dinner on Friday and Saturday night,” Oaks said. “But we’ll just have to see how it all goes.”


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