When Deanna Brown was working her customer sales job at a Fortune 500 company, she felt burnt out. Needing an outlet to de-stress, she found out that baking cookies and cakes in the kitchen was her happy place. A specific favorite to serve up was the ever-rich cheesecake.
This month, her business, Everything is Cheesecake, celebrated its grand opening of a brick and mortar location on the south side of Lansing. The business has humble beginnings, with Brown selling cheesecakes out of a cooler, under a pink tent, on the corner of South Martin Luther King Boulevard and Pierce Rd. She then graduated to a food truck on Cedar Street — and now, finally, a full-on store front.
Brown, a Lansing native, said the growth has been steady, but natural, all through word-of-mouth.
“To this day, we’ve never taken out any advertisements of any sort,” she said. “We’ve never done any Facebook or Instagram ads. Everything is all just word-of-mouth. That’s how we got our traction.”
On May 7, Everything is Cheesecake celebrated its grand opening at 5214 South Cedar in Lansing’s Jolly Cedar Plaza. After receiving the keys in April 2021, the entire space, a former Domino’s Pizza, was completely redone. The inside front now features elegant countertops, with a white marble look, a display case with the day’s flavors, and a mural created by local artist Ozay Moore. The art covers the entire right wall and details each step of Brown’s business journey.
Brown said the support she’s received from the community is indescribable. No matter the weather, before it opens, customers willingly line up outside to get a slice of Everything is Cheesecake.
“Lansing has been so supportive throughout my whole journey,” Brown said, “It feels good to be here on the south side, the side of town I was born and raised in. Having the support of the city means so much because this is just a little small business that was my dream. To see it come to fruition like this, and have the customers behind me, is an awesome feeling.”
On the menu is a dynamic batch of options: fresh-strawberry glaze, very berry, key lime, strawberry crunch, Cap'n Crunch, cinnamon roll, lemon, Oreo and more. But for those looking to recreate Brown’s menu at home — good luck. These tasty treats are well-kept family secrets.
“A lot of these recipes I use are over 125 years old, and belong to my grandmother,” Brown said. “You just can’t give anyone these recipes.”
Keeping these recipes under wraps, at least for now, isn’t hard. Everything is Cheescake is a tight-knit operation. Brown’s staff comprises only four employees, including Brown’s daughter, who often works the front counter. When he can, Brown’s husband helps bake.
Though, as head baker, every cheesecake is mixed personally by Brown herself. Her assistant, Carol Pierce, assembles the strawberry shortcake and lemon cakes. Although the business frequently sells out before closing time every day, Brown said that's a good problem to have. She also realizes it can be upsetting or inconvenient for customers.
"We sell out because this is a small family business, we're not at a scale yet where we're able to have a large production, or a bunch of employees," Brown said, "But we'll get there."
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