DeAnna Ray-Brown’s long shifts at Enterprise Rent-A-Car often left her tired and stressed out. When she finally returned home, Ray-Brown found her favorite way to blow off steam was to bake. She quickly discovered that her favorite treat to whip up was cheesecake. Cheesecake takes skill to make, patience to perfect, and its many variations allow for some seriously creative baking.
Ray-Brown quit her day job in 2017 and turned her hobby into a bona fide business venture. Her cheesecake food truck, Everything is Cheesecake, became a local hit. Now she’s expanding the operation into a brick-and-mortar restaurant on Cedar Street by the end of the year. “I decided that I wanted to leave my job at a Fortune 500 company and start this business,” said Ray-Brown. “It’s my true passion, and I wanted to be able to give everyone a taste of my cheesecakes.”
Ray-Brown’s signature cheesecake is the Strawberry Shortcake Crunch. As a child, she always favored the classic strawberry shortcake ice cream bar. Ray-Brown decided to translate her love of that frozen treat into the form of a cheesecake. “I checked Pinterest and I didn’t see anything like that cake I made,” said Ray-Brown. “After I added mine, I started to see it everywhere. I truly believe that I am the first person to make something like that.”
Creating new and fresh recipes is part of the joy of baking for Ray-Brown. She pours her heart and soul into her cheesecakes. As a seasoned baker, she believes it’s important to always look for new and better recipes. “I have always been a creative person,” said Ray-Brown. “I try to focus on that when I’m baking. It’s how you constantly improve, and I believe it’s why I’ve been able to be successful.”
Her strong work ethic has helped the business thrive. Ray-Brown has been receiving positive feedback from customers since the opening of her food truck. She believes that there is a healthy back-and-forth between herself and her regulars. “I owe it all to my customers. They help me decide which direction to go in, and I believe that my success has inspired them, too. I want to show people that they have the strength to open their own business.”
Everything is Cheesecake is constantly evolving. Ray-Brown is continuing to shape the menu in order to draw in more customers. This enthusiasm will carry over into the upcoming brick-and-mortar location. “I am so excited for that. I want to have a place for my customers to come in and enjoy themselves,” said Ray-Brown. “That way, they won’t have to be waiting in line during some of that extreme Michigan weather.”
For the new location, Ray-Brown plans to create a comfortable atmosphere perfect for enjoying a freshly-made delicacy. She wants to add warm milk and cookies to the menu.
“I want to serve only the best. All the ingredients are fresh. It really makes a difference,” said Ray-Brown. “People should know that what they are getting is a product made with lots of care and attention to every detail.”