WILMETTE – Lawrence Deans Bake Shop celebrated its five-year anniversary in Wilmette this July, sweet sailing for a bakery that has developed a niche making custom, hand-decorated butter cookies and other baked goods.
Looking for an Elvis cookie? How about an iPhone cookie or a unicorn cookie? Lawrence Deans sells these cookies and more at its bakery located at 637 Green Bay Road on the corner of Central Street.
“We can pretty much do anything,” said Vicky Blanas, who runs the bakery with her husband, Larry Blanas.
It’s that can-do spirit that enables the couple to run a successful bakery. Every morning Larry arrives at the bakery at 4 a.m. to get things ready before the shop opens at 7 a.m. He is in charge of the biscotti, fudge, brownies, muffins, bread and cook dough; Vicky makes the cupcakes and decorates the cookies.
Expert bakers now, the couple wasn’t always in the confectionary business. Larry worked as a general contractor for 30 years and Vicky worked as a high school teacher and then an administrator at Northwestern University, when they first started selling biscotti at the Northfield Farmer’s Market on the weekends in 2006. They worked at the market for five years, expanding their repertoire beyond biscotti and developing a following.
Business was so good that they decided to start looking for a brick and mortar shop to sell their baked goods. Larry looked all over the North Shore for the ideal location and found the storefront in Wilmette where a florist was formerly located. They were pleased to find a location nearby; the couple live in the village where they’ve raised their two children and Larry grew up in Wilmette, graduating from New Trier High School.
Larry relied on his construction skills to outfit the shop, building a commercial kitchen in the back and a spacious service area in the front that boasts cases of cookies, cupcakes, brownies, biscotti and more. The bakery is painted a cheerful pink and shelves of custom decorated cookies line the wall behind the counter.
Anything to do with technology is popular, such as iPhone cookies they make using a special printer that prints photos in edible ink onto a sheet of sugar. Vicky has collected hundreds and hundreds of cookie cutters and is always looking for a new shape. When a new movie comes out they get requests for cookies in the shape of certain characters. “When Frozen came out it was crazy,” Larry said. Sports logos are also popular, especially when local teams are on a winning streak.
Customers come from all over the North Shore with special requests. Over time Vicky has honed her decorating skills so that she can create anything. “It is just practice,” she said modestly. “I look at the first cookies I made in 2006 and they look ugly to me now. It’s just hours and hours of practice,” she said.
The couple typically make about 100-120 cookies per day, with output ballooning to nearly 300 during the busy holiday season. Everything is made fresh to order. “Our niche is making things super custom,” Vicky said.
Lawrence Deans Bake Shop is located at 637 Green Bay Road in Wilmette. It is open Tuesday through Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information go to www.lawrencedeans.com.