Wausau Pilot & Review
Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s featured business is Sweet Lola’s, which moved in November to a brand new location at 1015 N. Sixth St. in Wausau, the same building that houses Serenity Now Massage and School of Massage. The popular shop, which offers a wide range of baked goods from designer cupcakes to ice cream and more, is more convenient than ever with on-site parking and a main floor entry. When Sweet Lola’s first opened on Third Street, it was an immediate hit featuring mouthwatering cupcakes (think flavors like red velvet, chocolate, strawberry shortcake, bubble gum pop and much more) that taste even better than they look, and soon became a local favorite.
Melissa Panetta acquired the business in 2019 and quickly grew Sweet Lola’s offerings, making the bake shop a downtown destination for shoppers in search of a sweet treat and a break from their day. Its new Sixth Street location, which now includes a selection of coffee drinks, allows customers additional convenience. For one, visitors won’t need to park blocks away to stop in for their favorites, and the staff has significant barista experience. You know you’ll get the perfect beverage every single time.
This is the perfect spot to order cakes, pies, cookies, bars and more for holiday gatherings (or just for yourself.) They even have cupcakes just for dogs! If you haven’t tried Sweet Lola’s, trust me – make it a point to get there soon – and be sure to follow them on Facebook for discounts, specials and new products to tempt your taste buds.
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What attracted you to Sweet Lola’s and prompted you to take over the business?
I think the main thing that attracted me to this business was being able to make a living doing something artistic and fun. You rarely get to see that happen anymore. I’ve always been really creative, I’ve drawn up tattoos for people before, I’ve made a dress out of origami cranes, and who doesn’t have a good memory of baking with the family, right? Overall the freedom and the ever-changing day to day is what led me to buying Sweet Lola’s. This will always be one of the most fun, challenging, and life-changing things I’ve ever taken on.
Sweet Lola’s is well-known for its delicious cupcakes, but you have so much more. Tell us about what you have to offer.
With the new location, we’ve been mostly focusing on our dry case items. We are currently waiting for a new cold case for the space to bring back our cheesecakes, but we can still accommodate those on a preorder basis. Right now we’ve really been focusing on cupcakes, custom cakes, brownies, french macaroons, cookies, frosted sugar cookies, pies and our knockout cookies which is our take on “extra” cookies. Everybody loves Crumbl cookies and we don’t have one super close, so we wanted to offer our take on a more extravagant cookie. Along with our traditional items, we have rolled out our new coffee menu. A pastry with a coffee is a classic combination, so it was time that we incorporated that. We still have our Kemp’s ice cream as well – I know it’s a little chilly right now, but it’s always a good time for a warm cookie or cupcake with a scoop of ice cream.
What is the most popular item you sell?
Definitely cupcakes. We’ve been doing a decent amount of custom cakes recently as well. We have some extremely talented decorators on staff, so it’s good to see that they’re getting that positive feedback by seeing an increase of orders come through.
What kinds of holiday offerings do you have for those of us who don’t have it in us to bake?
We go all out for the holidays! Definitely keep up with our Facebook page if you’re looking for the fun and new items we stock daily. Our favorites are pies, hot chocolate bombs and frosted sugar cookies. Those are always popular around the holidays. We do offer some take and bake options for sugar cookies as well in case you want all the fun of decorating without all the hassle of baking cut out sugar cookies.
Where do you find your inspiration in coming up with all the wonderful treats you have to offer?
I think art is always taking inspiration from others and putting your own spin on things. With all of the access that we have to social media right now, it’s really hard to not be inspired. Personally, I like scrolling through Tik Tok and seeing what other bakeries around the world are doing.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about this industry?
This is an ever-changing business. What’s trendy this year might not be trendy next year. For example, when hot chocolate bombs first became a big trend two or three years ago we were making hundreds a weekend, that’s died down a lot now, so a lot of this job is keeping up with trends.
What are your biggest hopes for Sweet Lola’s in the future?
Really my big hope for Sweet Lola’s is to just continue to be better each year. There have been a lot of challenges since taking over and a big learning curve to push through, but our staff really knows their stuff.