From Ambler to Pottstown, businesses in Montgomery County have been working around the clock to stay afloat, while keeping employees, and customers safe during the COVID-19 crisis. Their hard work and innovation has not gone unnoticed. Each week, we're sharing their stories.
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Lochel’s Bakery earned national attention for their “presidential cookies.” The Hatboro bakery, which has been family-owned for three generations, started selling cookies iced with the names of Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008. The bakery invited customers to purchase cookies of their preferred presidential candidate and then added up the results.
They might not have had a tiny piece of paper wrapped inside but these turned out to be some real fortune cookies.
Lochel’s Bakery cookie count correctly predicted the previous three presidential elections. So of course, the eyes and the stomachs of the nation turned to Lochel’s in the fall of 2020.
“It's very overwhelming what’s happened in the past month,” said Kathleen Lochel. “Prior to the election cookies, we had a very strong customer base. The election cookies brought new customers, some from across the country. People love us because of our longevity, presence in the community, and what we do for others.”
Customers flooded to the bakery in Hatboro to cast their cookie vote.
The final totals:
Donald Trump: 31,804
Joe Biden: 5,750.
Even before the cookies were tallied one thing was certain, Lochel’s Bakery is a more than just election cookies. They have a vast menu of custom cakes, cupcakes, and donuts (their top sellers).
For as divisive as politics has become, Lochel’s Bakery’s national attention earned them an expanded following and illustrated the power of small businesses, creativity, and community.
Here is the Nov. 4 Facebook post from Lochel’s Bakery:
“Our small town of Hatboro gained a ton of new faces and caught the eye of many. Keep coming back because these small businesses deserve it, they too work hard. Cookies don't determine life. They did however make us determine how much we are loved. If the cookies’ prediction is right we will be 4 for 4, if not then I look at it as we still won. We win the hearts of you all.”
Lochel said the increased demand for election cookies caused friends, family and even people from the area to volunteer to chip in to help.
“I’m so proud of my staff,” Kathleen Lochel added. “The people who have got election cookies have asked to order Christmas cookies and are asking to support the business in other ways. I definitely think the notoriety and publicity we got is a step in a positive direction for the future of the bakery.”
Lochel’s Bakery is considered an essential business. However when the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Montgomery County, things were very stressful. Lochel’s creates beautiful occasion cakes but all the upcoming occasions, and the cakes that were ordered, were cancelled.
“We had to think out of the box with DIY kits, cupcake decorating kits and customized messaging on smaller cakes. We changed to be more open to the customers’ needs,” said Kathleen Lochel.
Whether it is donuts or a custom cake, Lochel’s Bakery takes tremendous pride in their items making their way to kitchen tables or the spotlight of special occasions.
“Food brings people together. Food is one common thing everyone can agree on. It makes us happy,” said Kathleen Lochel.
Perhaps the secret ingredient at Lochel’s Bakery is resilience.
On Labor Day in 1995, a fire destroyed Lochel’s Bakery, which was then located in Levittown. At the time, Kathleen Lochel’s in-laws owned the bakery. Kathleen and her husband, Rob, bought an existing bakery for sale in Hatboro and started over.
“There was no choice,” said Kathleen Lochel. “This is what my in-laws and my husband have always known. You have to keep going and keep positive, think outside of the box and pull it together not just for yourself but for your staff.”