While my mom and godmother created and ran The Dessert Place, my dad has always played a silent role behind the scenes of both the original and newly revived business.
Stu, as my friends and I like to call him, physically helped build out the original Dessert Place in Virginia Highland (see pic below). He worked late nights at the restaurants in the early days of the business. And he has held the title of Official Taste Tester of The Dessert Place for many decades (an impressive career in and of itself).
While it is my mother's company that I brought back to life, my dad has been my go-to guy for years when it comes to talking all things business. I may be biased, but I think he's one of the smartest businessmen out there (just don't tell him I said that...I like to pretend I know more than he does). I'm so grateful for the guidance from both of my parents throughout this entrepreneurial journey!
On a less serious note, below you'll find Stu's take on the Dessert Place...version 1.0 and 2.0!
Q: How old were you when mom and Bennett opened The Dessert Place?
A: I was 28
Q: Be honest, did you think their new business was a good idea when they told you that they wanted to open a dessert-only restaurant?
A: I was pleasantly surprised that it lasted 17 years longer than I expected.
Q: Were you involved in the process as they got The Dessert Place up and running? How did you help out?
A: Even though I was the one most skeptical of The Dessert Place being a success, I loved helping out in any way that was needed. In the beginning it was helping to actually build the first store and then coming home and testing multiple versions of all of the desserts that might be on the menu. After they opened, I was only allowed to wash dishes and bus tables.
Q: I've been told you basically worked two full-time jobs in the early days of The Dessert Place. What was your daily schedule like back then?
A: I would begin my day at my real estate business, which I had started a few months before, and work there until around 5:30. Then meet Sheryl for a 30 minute dinner at either Taco Mac or Capo’s Café. After that, I began my evening shift of bussing tables or washing dishes until midnight each week night and around 2:00 AM on weekends. It was usually a pretty full day, but I was younger then.
Q: Which Dessert Place location was your favorite and why?
A: They each had their own unique character, but I think the first location in Virginia Highland was always my favorite.
Q: Do you have any favorite memories at The Dessert Place from back in the day?
A: There were so many but they almost always involved seeing and hearing how happy the customers were and how much they loved the desserts. Not sure I can repeat some of the others.
Q: What were your thoughts when I told you that I wanted to quit my corporate job to run my own business/bring The Dessert Place back to life?
A: My immediate thought was that you were as crazy as your mother. However, due to my increasing age and maturity and the ability to utilize hindsight for once, I thought it was, and is, a fabulous idea. Your additional abilities to use your marketing and social media skills along with the incredible product(s) that you offer, will take this to a different level. From a selfish perspective, I knew that my truly favorite job of being able to test all of the desserts every day would also be needed again.
Q: You've been known as one of the best dessert taste testers out there, and have even landed the title of "Official Taste Tester" at The Dessert Place. I have quite a few friends who have asked for your job. How did you get so lucky?
A: It’s a very difficult and challenging job. I proved in 1.0 that I was up to it by being able to eat any dessert at any time. However, the hardest part was being able to critique as many variations as necessary of each product until they got it just right. Sometimes I would have to eat 4 different apple pies each night for a week before the topping, filling and crust were just the right combination. That was a really difficult job and no one else could, or would, do it. Luckily, I still seem to have this ability. So tell your friends that it’s really harder than it looks, but I’m happy to have company and see if they are qualified.
Q: What was your favorite item at the original Dessert Place?
A: Your Mom. Followed by the Cream Cheese Brownie, cheesecakes, chocolate cake, puffins and cinnamon stickies. Luckily I got to have them all.
Q: Lastly, what's your favorite way to eat a Cream Cheese Brownie (CCB)?
A: warm and just slightly gooey.