You may hear a bustling sound coming from the charming area of Harmar where the beloved Busy Bee Restaurant has been renovated and reopened under new ownership. New owner, Larry Sloter, along with his family full of “helper bees;” Wife – Kristin Sloter and; sons – Gabe and Reid Sloter, all take part in supporting Larry in his new business venture. Larry has always been interested in the restaurant business, but it wasn’t until one fateful morning when he decided to dine at the Busy Bee that changed the course of his interests.
“It’s been a desire of mine since I was in college to come back to the restaurant industry,” Larry said. “I had grown dissatisfied with my previous job and stopped in for breakfast one morning to find that it was for sale and realized that The Bee was what I needed to be doing.”
Larry did just that, purchasing the restaurant from Donna English in January 2016. Since then, he meticulously cultivated a revamped menu for The Busy Bee – including sourcing almost his entire menu of food from local farmers. “For me, I love scratch cooking – and knowing where your food comes from is part of that. The Mid-Ohio Valley is entirely too rich in agriculture to not take advantage of that,” Larry said.
While the menu obviously changes with the seasons, he currently uses Hickory Hill Processing for all of the pork products and brisket. Witten Farms Inc. supplies the Black Angus ground beef used in burgers and other recipes. He sources produce throughout the year from Witten’s, Lanes Farm Market, Stacy’s Strawberry Farm and Worthington Produce. When available, he also sources honey from The Bee Barn in Fleming – while Donald and Madge Rauch, also in Fleming, provide them with 110 dozen eggs each week.
For a delicious cup of coffee to go with all those eggs, Larry is working with Ashton Newland and his brothers over at Broasters Coffee. Ashton is 11 and has started his own roasting operation. He utilizes an importer in California to bring in coffee beans from Brazil, and roasts them in two pound batches. “It’s a very smooth, lighter roast that is extremely good and is quickly becoming a fan favorite,” Larry said. He is also in negotiations with other local vendors of both raw products and some finished goods to be added to the menu this year as well.
Currently, The Busy Bee has several items that are considered favorites and specialties. On the lunch menu, the Rueben is made with fresh brisket which sits in a house-made pickling brine for at least ten days before being slow roasted, refrigerated overnight, then sliced and steamed to order – topped with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and a proprietary Thousand Island Dressing. “It is a true labor of love,” Larry said. The meatloaf is also made from scratch, 65% beef, 35% sausage – loaded with flavor and then wrapped in bacon before baking. Once it’s been baked and cooled it’s sliced into thick pieces, cooked on the griddle and finally topped with a sweet bbq glaze, Swiss cheese and more bacon. The Wimpy Burger is also a customer favorite with a half-pound of local black-angus beef, then topped the way the customer likes.
“For breakfast you simply can’t go wrong,” Larry said. “Our pancakes are 8-9 inches in diameter and fill the plate and all of our omelets are made with three large farm fresh brown eggs and come loaded with ingredients.”
Larry’s oldest son Gabe, who is 13, also helps by making giant cinnamon rolls on the weekends. He also makes many of their pies and other desserts and will even do a few other special items and prep work as needed. “He’s great to have in the kitchen and he is an amazing baker when he’s able to fit it in among school and sports, Larry said.
Since the Busy Bee has a long history in the area, first opening in 1944, the restaurant definitely has its “regulars” – that is – the devoted customers that regularly visit The Bee for the food and great company. “We have 20 customers or so that dine with us every morning, another 25 or 30 that are in five times a week and easily another 50 or so that are in once a week, said Larry. “Many have been coming for decades and each have been amazing to work with as I’ve changed the restaurant back to a true scratch kitchen.”
If starting a made-from-scratch restaurant wasn’t enough on his plate, Larry recently decided to add a food truck to the mix as well! He says the food truck was born out of requests from people that wanted items from their menu, but couldn’t make it in because of the current breakfast/lunch hours. He says it will also give him an opportunity to attend some of the sporting events that his family already attends with their boys. “This will allow us to spend more time together as a family,” said Larry. While the food truck is still a work in progress, you can find the schedule and menu on their Facebook page.
When asked what his favorite part of owning the Busy Bee was, he said, “Working with our amazing customers and staff, plus, I love food – and being able to make others fall in love with that food has been a great time. I have some of the best employees that you can find that share my same passion for what we are doing here.”
He also hopes to see continued growth with the food truck and mobile concession trailer. Busy Bee fans who don’t have time to make it to the restaurant can still eat the from-scratch-goodness on the go from the food truck. Following the lead of other successful businesses, The Busy Bee’s food truck is becoming quite popular. Fans can find it parked at The Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays in Marietta. Parkersburg fans can find it at Bicentennial Park for breakfast. Likewise, local and statewide events, fairs and festivals are all on the radar.
In the future, Larry hopes to work towards being 100% local and 100% scratch. Yes, that may be hard to do since some produce doesn’t grow here, but Larry says he will continue to work as much as he can to get as close as possible.
Hours of Operation:
Monday through Saturday, 6:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sunday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
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