From Recession to Cheesecake: How Peteet Started His Food Business

By Kyle Pollock on December 9th, 2013 / Comments

Never before did Patrick Peteet think about starting baking company, but after his friends, family, and business clients tried his homemade cheesecakes, they all agreed that he needed to get into baking. It wasn’t until he was faced with hardships of the recession when that thought became a reality.

Growing up, Patrick’s hobby was baking and something he always loved to do, but never a way of life. Patrick was raised in Oak Park, Michigan, and started baking when he was 11 years old. A large reason he never thought of baking as a career was because he already expected one in the family business his father started, Peteet Realty. Patrick’s first job was at his father’s company, and soon he became a broker for the company. To bring complimentary gifts to his clients at Peteet Realty, he baked cheesecakes out of his house. For 20 years, he worked the market and eventually took over the family company after his father passed away. Patrick continued to run a successful business, but a few years ago the company was claimed by recession and he was still faced with paying bills and supporting a family.

Opportunity Knocks, When One Door Closes.

Due to the falling market, Patrick had lost his cars and house, and the business for Peteet Realty was not going anywhere. It seemed the real estate door was shut. Now at his lowest point, Patrick was receiving more encouragement to bake, something he had been doing at home for 30 years. Patrick even shared a story of a woman who he had come across who doesn’t like cheesecakes. He shared his baked goods with her she and loved it and told him he needs to bake (as a career).

Finally, to make money for gas, he started slowly selling his cheesecakes, but it still wasn’t enough. It was in a moment that Patrick distinctly remembers looking into the eyes of his children and saying, “something has to change.” Patrick closed down the family real estate business and he describes, “by the grace of God,” he was able to open up his cheesecake business, Peteet’s Famous Cheesecakes. He started with one flavor and since 2010 began expanding and growing to what is now, 90 flavors in many creative forms including: cheesecake cupcakes, cheesecake brownies, and push pops. Patrick sells wholesale, retail, for fundraisers, and donates cheesecakes to charity events. Peteet’s is even certified Kosher by Kosher Michigan.

Patrick Peteet

Patrick said they have around a 95% conversion rate, whereas almost everyone who walks in their store ends up loving the cheesecakes. Patrick hears many unanimous opinions between his customers. It doesn’t matter who it may be, customers’ could be vastly different, but share the enjoyment for Peteet’s Cheesecakes. Two of the most common customer reactions are a loud and drawn out “OMG!” or “wow!”. Currently the number one seller is the Sweet Potato Cheesecake and a new selection is a Vodka Cheesecake. Patrick is honest and straight forward about his customer satisfaction, and says he truly wants customers to be satisfied. He appreciates support, but Patrick said he’d rather have a customer go where they think is best.

Thankful For Past, Looking Ahead

Patrick said he has learned much about people and relationships from his real estate business and is able to bring those skills to his new business. Next year, Patrick plans to open up a second location sometime next year. He is excited for his expansion but says what is most important is providing for his children. However, family seems to cross over into the business as teaching and growing each employee can be like spending time with extended family. Thankfully, there is plenty of cheesecake to bring everyone together.

For a great dessert, Peteet’s Famous Cheesecake can be the answer, or maybe just a little sweetness in your life.

About the Author

Kyle Pollock

Formerly with Booklify, he is a freelance writer, web designer, and enjoys different cultures. He sports Vibram FiveFingers on his runs and is a big fan of Michigan family owned businesses. He is an MSU graduate with a degree in Professional Writing.