Amy Nichols turned her sweet dreams into reality.
Amy Nichols wasn't always a baker. After years working as a landscaping architect, she stumbled upon lollicakes — a popular cake treat served on a stick — and never turned back. Nichols opened her new bakery, Flour Parlor, on Orange Avenue, and she's been cooking up success ever since. We sat down to talk lollicakes, home-cooking and what kind of foods a baker craves.
Everyone, at some point in their life, says, 'I want to open a bakery.' I was unemployed for a really long time, and I needed something else to do. I discovered cake pops and went with that. I’ve always loved entertaining. Even working in an office, I’ve always been the girl who brought in treats for everyone.
I used to be a landscape architect. I still do freelance work. I went to college for landscape architecture and did that for about 10 years. I was unemployed for a while, and that’s when I started making cake pops and I opened the Lollicake Queen on Hillview Street. I did that for the last four years. That ended, and I opened Flour Parlor. My dream was always to own a classic sweets shop that did more than just lollicakes. I have a very talented staff, and Flour Parlor has allowed us to expand the menu.
I was into jewelry making and doing trunk shows. I ordered some cake pops from someone in Rhode Island to serve at my desk at the show, and I thought something like this could really take off. So I started making them myself.
I have people come in every day and ask, 'What is a lollicake?' It’s cake and frosting mixed together and coated in gourmet chocolate. It’s a lot like a truffle on a stick.
Lollicakes make people happy. Nobody complains about a lollicake. You create something, and there's immediate response to it. We make these every day; people eat them every day, and they're happy.
The red-velvet and sugar-cookie lollicakes are the most popular. We’ve been sold out of the sugar cookie for days and are making a new batch now. I’m proud of it too, because I invented the recipe myself. Most of our lollicakes are from recipes that we’ve found and modified to work for our lollicakes, which is a special formulation of cake. This one I created entirely. It’s delicious and has rainbow sprinkles. Another one of our most popular items is our 'Notorious P.I.E.' It’s an oatmeal-cookie crust with a butter, brown sugar and heavy cream filling, and it is not for sharing.
We do a lot of cakes. We do homemade candy bars and cookies, and we’ve been doing lunch as well, our chicken-salad sandwich is one of our best sellers. We have coffee and ice cream from a company out of St. Pete, called Working Cow. We do a little of everything.
I don't cook at home. I don’t have anything in my fridge, and I don’t have things in my pantry. I’ll do a three-ingredient peanut butter cookie. It’s made with sugar, peanut butter and an egg. If I'm needing something sweet, I’ll just whip those up. I grew up in a house where my dad cooked every day, and he still does. That’s how my daughter and I eat every night — I don’t cook, I don’t prepare meals at home, but we still enjoy family meals that way, because of my dad.
Surprisingly, none of us here want to eat sugar. We want things that aren’t sweet. We like hot dogs from the hot-dog cart across the street, or pizza. Today, I made everyone cocktail weenies — hot dogs cooked with bourbon, ketchup and brown sugar. That being said, Selena’s eclairs are amazing, and I could eat those all day long. I always have to tell myself, 'These take a long time to make, and we need to sell them.'
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