Walmart donated over $872 million last year to good causes, whilst Target donates around five per cent of its profits and the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos gave $2.5 million to marriage equality, yet it’s not just big businesses that are donating profits to charity. The number of small family businesses that are ‘doing their bit’ for others is growing at a rapid pace.
The small family run Pacific Cheesecake Company of Glendale, California is a classic example of a local business going above and beyond to help others. The bakery has only been going for sixteen months and yet already this kind hearted business has given well over $2000 to good causes, “We have been in business, in our retail store, 1 year in April. I don’t even know how much we have donated in cash” Karen Freeman, who owns and runs the business with her three sons, Mike, Steven and Jake, told me recently.
Helping others goes and raising funds for charity seems to go hand in hand with running their small family business, indeed it’s a philosophy the Freeman’s hold dear. As well as doing fund raisers for local children’s and homeless causes they are also passionate about equality and supporting the gay community recently donating to The Born This Way Foundation, GSA Network, PFLAG and Human Rights Campaign and the HRC.
Karen started making cheesecakes for herself and friends and family in the early 1980’s whilst she worked in the very different world of commercial banking for almost twenty years, until she made the break and set up the Pacific Cheesecake Company with her sons “I have always wanted to have my own business and baking and baking cheesecake was the best thing I knew how to do other then my banking background.” she told me. Indeed with Karen’s commercial financial background and having taught each of her son‘s over the years all the secrets of making the perfect cheesecake along with Mike’s degree in communications and banking experience, Steven’s business administration degree and Jake’s wickedly creative ideas for stunning cheesecakes, starting the business was the only logical step.
They founded the business with a simple mission, to bake the very best cheesecakes from the finest possible ingredients with love and care, delivering great personal customer service all combined with a commitment to do good in their community. So far it seems to be succeeding and the pacific Cheesecake Company team are building up a increasing customer base. “It can be fun, stressful and difficult all at the same time.” Karen explains when asked about running a small yet popular family business. “We need to keep up with our customer’s demands, keep our products at their best quality, and bake constantly to keep up with orders.”
If you thought cheesecake only came in three or four flavours then you’ll be in for a big surprise, Karen and her son’s not only make the more traditional flavours such as vanilla and chocolate, they also cre
ate some wonderfully bizarre savoury concoctions including a garden vegetable cheesecake and a seasonal pumpkin version.
I asked Karen what other unusual cheesecakes they made, “We make a Sweet Lemon Basil that is extremely popular. Other savoury cheesecakes we make include bleu cheese, gorgonzola apricot, pancetta date, and more.”
And the most popular? “Red Velvet is our biggest seller, however, we have many that make the #2 list.” Karen explains, “Coconut mango, caramel pecan turtle, white chocolate salted caramel, lemon pie and so on.”
One of the interesting factors that drew me to Karen’s story, other than being a bit of a cheesecake fanatic myself was the knowledge that two of her three son’s are gay. “Yes my two oldest sons, Mike and Steven are gay. Mike came out when he was 21 and in college (although I knew for many years and he knew it but didn’t want to discuss it). Steven came out when he was about 21 too. I didn’t know until he told me that he was gay.”
What was it like, as a mother when they told you? “I love all my kids no matter what, it doesn’t matter to me what their sexuality is, I love them all. I do wish others in the world felt the same way, I fear for my son’s safety all the time.
“Being a mom, I always will worry about my sons, I guess that’s the nature of a mother.” Karen tell ms, “However, being a mom of a gay son or son’s in my case, adds the worry of the hate that is out there towards gay people. I never want to see my kids hurt in any way. It seems to be a common concern of many parents of gay children, as I have learned in the PFLAG group I belong to.“ Which perhaps goes some way in understanding why PFLAG was one of the good causes they’ve raised fund for, along with the BTW foundation. “BTW foundation promotes exactly what it states. We were all on board to raise funds for the cause.” Karen states proudly.
With a menu of over 120 different varieties to order I was interested to find out what tickles the taste buds of Karen and her boys, “Mike likes the coconut mango, Steven likes the chocolate covered banana and Jake likes the sprinkle ones and chocolates.”
Currently they operate out of their bakery and store on 413 S. Brand Boulevard, Glendale, California, 91204. They also arrange deliveries to Los Angeles County and the connecting counties and whilst they don’t currently send their impressive creations mail order, it is something they are looking into for the future. “We would like to expand and open other locations.” Karen tells me and you can be sure that along with growing step by step with this little family business will be their commitment to help others and promoting equality and acceptance. “As we grow, we will have the ability to reach more people, allowing them to taste our fine products and personal service which will enable us to do even more in our community.”
It is the mission that Karen and her son’s can be justly proud of.
The Pacific Cheesecake Company. 413 S. Brand Boulevard, Glendale, California, 91204. Tel 310 427 1595 or firstname.lastname@example.org