French Bee Bakery in Parkville is opening second location in Lenexa

Tracy Torres, owner of the 16-month-old  French Bee Bakery in Parkville, had a five-year plan when she gambled most of her savings on opening a cozy bake shop and luncheonette at 404 East Street in downtown Parkville. But it has been less than two years, she says, and her plan is moving much faster than she thought it would.

“I had a dream of expanding my business,” Torres says. “Just not as quickly as it’s actually happening.”

The divorced mother of four — her triplets all graduated from Rockhurst College in May, and her eldest daughter just completed a law degree at the University of Michigan (all worked part time for her at the French Bee) — is taking another big gamble this year: She’s opening a second French Bee in Lenexa, at 87th Street and Renner Road, in the same office building that houses the second Grand Street Cafe. Torres is hoping to have her second location — which will also serve light breakfasts and lunches in a buttercream-colored dining room, like the original venue — by November.

“I have to be open for the holidays,” Torres says. “It’s imperative.”
The Lenexa location will be the second major facility that Torres is planning this year. “I’m also opening a separate baking kitchen in Parkville,” she says. “We’re expanding our wedding-cake business.”

Torres is able to take on these additional projects thanks in part to her having hired 21-year-old pastry chef Aubrey Jameson last year. Jameson studied under noted veteran chef Jacquy Pfeiffer (who is coming to Kansas City this week for the American Culinary Federation’s annual convention) and has created a variety of popular new pastry items, including a blueberry-and-bacon sweet roll and an array of colorful macarons, for the French Bee’s pastry cases.

At 1,700 square feet, the Lenexa shop will be only slightly larger than the intimate Parkville location. Torres, who had three employees when she first opened the French Bee and now has 13 staffers, says she’ll expand her payroll again for the Lenexa operation.

“It’s scary, but I think it’s worth it,” she says. “I’m very passionate about what I do.”

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink