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Sweet Expressions quickly growing

By Samantha Langley
Asst. Around the Town Editor

February 9, 2012

University theatre
Photo by Samantha Langley
Blaire Locklear (left) and family decorate and package desserts in their restaurant's new location. Sweet Expressions is located at 2022 E. Third St.
Sweet Expressions, owned and operated by part-time UNCP student Blaire Locklear, has moved and expanded to include a full lunch time menu in Pembroke.

Sweet Expressions was formerly located by Cyna's Jewelry in Pembroke. It is now located at 2022 E. Third St. It is also now open for lunch, with a menu of salads, appetizers, sandwiches and desserts.

Diverse menu

The lunch menu at Sweet Expressions is unusual from other restaurants. One of their featured salads is the sweet berry salad. This salad includes a walnut spring mix layered with fresh fruits such as strawberries and blueberries. It is then covered with a raspberry vinaigrette sauce.

Sweet Expressions also serves hot and cold sandwiches. The most popular is their chicken salad, which is freshly made in the kitchen daily. However, they also serve sandwiches including BLTs and deli sandwiches.

Desserts are the specialty at Sweet Expressions and one can order a wide variety of different sugary goodies including chocolate covered pretzels, carmel apples, Rice Krispy treats, cakes and many more.

The Sweet Express includes a warm brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, cool whip and completed by a cherry on top.

"We hope to give better service," he said.

Sweet Expressions first opened behind Cyna's Jewelry in February 2010. At first it was a bakery selling a wide array of specialty cakes, chocolate covered items and other baked goods.

Locklear said she is a skilled cake maker and artist when it comes to cake designs. Since Locklear was doing so well with her dessert goods, she decided to expand her restaurant to include pasta and chicken salads.

These items were huge best sellers and Locklear realized that she needed more dining space in order to keep gaining customers. That was when Locklear and her husband, Tony, decided to rent their current location.

Unique style

Once they found out where they would set up their restaurant, Locklear decided to decorate the restaurant in a Victorian fashion.

The house has several rooms that are all designated a specific color. They are called the Blue Room, Green Room, etc. The curtains and the furniture are all designed to go along with the rooms' colors.

The furniture features Victorian styles, including wooden tables and comfy arm chairs. The curtains are long and flowing to represent the time period.

Decorations also fill the area, including antique candy machines and wooden cabinets that finish off the Victorian look.

Locklear decided to create this look for her restaurant due to her personal love of Victorian-style fashions. She and her husband would cut out pictures from magazines of looks that they liked for the restaurant and try to recreate them. On Jan. 4, they were ready to open.

Education challenges

Throughout this expansion, Locklear faced many challenges. The first was that she is a part-time student at UNCP.

Locklear originally considered a teaching degree. However, earning the degree required a semester of student teaching that she would be unable to do if she wanted to keep the restaurant. She has now changed her major to history since that is where she had the most credits. Locklear plans to graduate in May and is looking at graduate school so that she may be able to teach a course or two at UNCP or a community college while working at the restaurant.

She said she had many reasons to start her restaurant while gaining her education.

"I love the way people get that warm feeling when they eat something they really like. I have worked in the food industry since I was15, and I love it. I am very artistic and decorating cakes gives me the outlet to use this skill. I just love it!" Locklear said.

Family affair

Another challenge that Locklear had while creating her restaurant was her family. Locklear and her husband have a five-year-old son named Vincent Locklear.

Tony is coordinator for the Healing Center in Pembroke. The center provides crisis outreach and ministry for the town. Vincent is a kindergartener at Oxendine Elementary School.

Locklear also has the responsibility of caring for many sick and elderly family members.

Yet, her family has been a real help to her dream. Her husband has helped her throughout the process with decorating and being at the restaurant whenever possible.

Vincent has also been a big help to his mom by taking orders for her in the restaurant when he's not in school. He does get money for tips and has plans for how to use that money.

"I'm going to put it toward college and go to NC State like my dad and be a judge someday. Mommy says I can go wherever I want to go and be whatever I want to be," he said.

Vincent is excited about his mom's restaurant because, as he said, "She's making more money."

When at the restaurant his favorite treat to eat is a brownie.

Future plans

Although Locklear has expanded her restaurant greatly, she is not ready to stop expanding. After Valentine's Day this year she hopes to open the restaurant for dinner a few nights a week. She is also planning to redo one of the rooms in the restaurant into a formal tea room.

Landon Woods and Cecil Locklear, two friends of Locklear's, hope to open a coffee shop in anotherone of the rooms.

Locklear quoted them by saying, "There's nowhere in Pembroke to get a decent cup of coffee for under $4."

Once the coffee shop opens, Locklear also plans to serve breakfast to complement the coffee.

Despite all of the challenges that Locklear has faced while expanding her restaurant, Sweet Expressions is a quickly growing business.

Sweet Expressions is located at 2022 E. Third St. To contact Sweet Expressions join its Facebook page or call (910) 521-5610.

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