Owner Larry Sloter has Big Plans for the Bee

Since 2016, The Busy Bee Restaurant in Harmar Village has been under the ownership of Larry Sloter, who was named a nominee for last year’s Mid-Ohio Valley Entrepreneur of the Year. The same year, The Busy Bee celebrated its 75th Anniversary.

2020 was also the year that COVID-19 turned the world upside down as the global pandemic shut down businesses across the globe. The restaurant industry has taken – and continues to take – a hit from occupancy limits, curfew restrictions, and necessary precautions to ensure public health and safety. While some restaurants have shut their doors, others dug deep to capitalize on the opportunity to strengthen their business. The Busy Bee is one of those businesses.

“The last 10 months have brought a lot of changes to us,” said Sloter.

The changes Sloter is referring to are both interior and exterior enhancements of the building and business space. Outdoor upgrades include additional seating for 24 customers on the patio, new concrete board siding, and a new metal roof. Inside, the restaurant experienced even bigger changes all aimed at improving the customer and employee experience.

“We opened up our space by removing the tired old drop ceilings, taking them back to their original height and used the extra space to install new exposed HVAC ductwork. We removed the harsh fluorescent tube lighting and installed new drop pendant lights with high efficiency LED bulbs. We updated our flooring with a vinyl plank that is easier to clean and maintain. Our retail displays for our supplier’s products are now more visible and easier for the customer to view and we’ve added a bakery case to show off our fresh baked pastries and desserts,” said Sloter.

The biggest change to The Busy Bee, however, is one that the customers do not see: a complete overhaul of the kitchen. Sloter has doubled The Busy Bee’s cook space to provide faster, more efficient service that is more consistent, which he hopes that customers will both notice and appreciate.

The new kitchen allows us to get the food out faster which, over the course of a whole week, allows us to serve more customers further covering the seats lost to social distancing.

“When COVID hit and caused such havoc in our industry, we felt we needed to make some changes to come out of the chaos better prepared to handle whatever is to come at us next. The patio allowed us to add seating to cover the seats lost to social distancing in the dining room. The new kitchen allows us to get the food out faster which, over the course of a whole week, allows us to serve more customers further covering the seats lost to social distancing,” said Sloter.

And, just last month, The Busy Bee announced that they have officially received their liquor license, allowing the restaurant to serve beer, wine, and mixed drinks to customers while they dine morning, afternoon, and evening.

“We hope that the liquor permit will allow us to add the additional revenue to make up for the losses that COVID has brought us. Early on it will just be a handful of beers, cocktails and coffee drinks. In a short time however, we expect to open for the occasional dinner a couple of times a month to let us flex our culinary muscles with some unique and innovative specialty dinners,” said Sloter.

Customers can expect to enjoy beer and wine pairing events in the future as well as dinners during Marietta Main Street’s First Friday events with meals that align with the month’s First Friday theme. Sloter also hopes to offer small office parties or events in the evening after the restaurant closes; with their liquor license, he believes the ability to serve alcohol will make these opportunities more attractive to potential customers.

I’m very dedicated to Harmar Village and want the Bee to be a showcase to help drive business in this neighborhood.

Moving forward into the spring and summer, The Busy Bee will continue to dive deep in their processes seeking to identify ways to improve the customer experience. Plus, exterior enhancements will look to be finished, like completing trim work and applying fresh coats of paint.

As far as future growth of the restaurant is concerned, Sloter is hoping to add additional outdoor dining and may one day look to expand into additional venues.

“I’m very dedicated to Harmar Village and want the Bee to be a showcase to help drive business in this neighborhood so for the immediate future that is where I plan to keep my focus,” said Sloter.

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