Lisa Stanton had a vision: it included authentic people, quality ingredients, and a place where families could all go to enjoy themselves. Her vision became Lisa Bee’s.
Five years ago, Lisa and her husband Nick bought an existing fruit stand north of East Wenatchee on Highway 97/Highway 2. Lisa was looking for a new business opportunity after working as a dental hygienist. Although she loved the work, she didn’t feel like she could be herself. She was tired of hiding her tattoos and toning down her look and style for her job.
The fruit stand had been there for 10 years, but Lisa had some new ideas. She expanded past the milkshakes and locally-grown fruit to a much larger operation that is now open the entire year, instead of just the four summer months. A lot of other changes came around pretty quickly, too.
She hired people she enjoyed working with, and encouraged them to be themselves. When they asked if they could dye their hair pink, she said, “Yes, it’s even encouraged!” She wanted everyone to feel like they could be authentic when they came to work.
“I wanted to create an atmosphere where I could be myself, she said, “I surround myself with people I love to be around. That’s a great part of being self-employed. I’m with them more than my family!””
Lisa’s husband Nick comes from a family of restaurant owners, who have owned three successful restaurants in the Wenatchee area. Nick suggested they try a sandwich shop, so that’s what they did. Lisa hired two of her best friends – also leaving dental hygiene at the same time – to be her manager and baker. They started with seven sandwiches and a couple salads.
Lisa began looking for top quality products made in Washington to sell retail, and quickly discovered what was most important to her: hiring people she enjoyed working with; promoting local businesses whenever possible; and sticking the best quality ingredients she could find. She spent a lot of time working with her supplier to find barbecue sauce, ranch dressing and bread that didn’t include high fructose corn syrup. She changed the recipe for the milkshakes so they didn’t either.
“We pride ourselves on our ingredients,” she said. “If I wouldn’t eat it myself or feed it to my children, I wouldn’t serve it to the public.”
Today, Lisa Bee’s is a booming, popular spot for travelers and locals alike. Her 12 employees are local single moms, college students and other local valley residents.
““When people come here, the majority of the money is going to college staff,” she said. “Every cent that they leave for tips goes to my staff.”
The restaurant carries Lisa’s nickname from high school – her parents have owned orchards for 40 years, and their orchard’s name is Busy Bee’s. Lisa’s friends called her Lisa B, so she named the restaurant to reflect her history.
The large airy building and surrounding grounds are spotless. There’s a lot of outside space to sit or for kids to play. Lisa says she thinks they’re the most family-friendly location in the area.
“I feel like we’re the best place to go for a family. We have beer for dad, wine slushies for mom and milkshakes for the kids.”
They also have soccer balls, and room for kids to play while their parents relax at a table and enjoy the view. “Whether you’re a two-year-old or an 80-year-old, you can enjoy our space.”
In addition to the restaurant and the retail goods, Lisa Bee’s is also an event venue. They have a summer concert lineup, and can be booked for weddings, receptions and more.
The property also includes 20 acres of orchard, and, as of 2019, a vegetable garden, too. They grow and sell 26 varieties of fruit, including 10 varieties of cherries, 4 types of nectarines, 3 apricots, peaches, plums and pluots. All the fruit they sell in Lisa Bee’s is tree-ripened and fresh that season, and grown either by them or other local farms.
In addition to an array of sandwiches and salads popular among the majority of people, Lisa Bee’s also has gluten free bread options and some vegetarian fare. They stock a dairy-free sorbet in addition to several ice cream flavors, and can make milkshakes for those with nut allergies in a separate area and blender.
Like many small business owners, Lisa works hard to create a work life balance, but sometimes it’s hard to do while trying to keep everything running. She’s planning to make some changes to her schedule and how she runs things to make it possible to spend more time with her kids. Her husband Nick is a wildland firefighter; both of them are busiest in the summer. Her need to spend more time with her family feeds into Lisa’s overall philosophy: to make sure what she’s doing doesn’t compromise her values.
“I do things that make me feel good, she says. If it doesn’t’ make me feel good, I can’t do it every day. My dad said, ‘You just have to trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.’ I think that’s the best advice he ever gave me,” she said.
Lisa Bee’s is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Their address is 13051 US Highway 2 (also Hwy 97). To learn more, check out their website: www.lisa-bees.com.