Rotarian of the day, Jennifer Vidrine, invited one of her favorite entrepreneurs in Winnfield to speak to Winnfield Rotary Club on May 18, 2022, Niki Etheridge. Ms. Etheridge is a native of Winnfield and currently the owner of Pretty Baked on West Court Street, with big plans for the future!
Niki began her career in the consumer services industry during her high school years when she transformed her love of baking into a business by baking cakes for friends and neighbors to make extra
money. She also worked at Kids’ World.
After graduation from high school, Ms. Etheredge obtained her degree in Consumer Services from Northwestern State University. Then she worked with her father-in-law at Mama D’s, following which she once again worked with children at First Baptist’s child care program. In her spare time, she baked cakes for special occasions.
In 2018, Niki took the plunge into the consumer service industry by opening her current business, Pretty Baked, located in the little red building on West Court Street. At first, she served cupcakes and coffee, gradually expanding the menu, and then in January 2020, she began serving lunches. Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit that year causing the shutdown of nonessential businesses, and the coffee, cupcake and lunch businesses closed. Ms. Etheridge modified her business, preparing meals to be taken home to feed families.
Eventually, she was able to reopen the Pretty Baked coffee and lunch business to the public, with various sandwich and lunch specialties including her hot chicken lunch. Recently, she has partnered with the mobile flower company, the Pink Petal, to provide special Mother’s Day treats, and presented an educational session on coffee, teaching about different coffee beans and roasting methods, and different brewing methods, such as cold brew, espresso, and others. Currently, Pretty Baked is open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. five days a week, and from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. two nights a week.
Niki has plans to grow the business in the future and has already begun seeing those plans blossom. She and her husband have purchased the old bulk depot building on Crawford Street behind Town & Country, and are planning to open an 85-seat restaurant with a full bar, back patio and game area. They will specialize in providing a nice farm-to-table dinner for couples, with all foods sourced locally. Initially, they may have to purchase produce in Ruston but they will have a garden at the depot from which to gather fresh produce for the restaurant right there on the premises.
Pretty Baked will continue to serve the community but will move to the Depot. The dinner restaurant will offer the same items that are now on the Pretty Baked menu, adding to the supper menu, along with steak, fish and pasta dishes. The menu will change every four to five months, depending on seasonal availability and preferences. Ms. Etheridge anticipates the depot building will be ready to open the restaurant by March 2023.
Rotary adjourned its meeting with its motto, “Service above self!”