Bennett (or "Meow" as my whole family calls her...the nickname my brother gave to her as a small child) is a "forever friend" of my dad from their days growing up together in Charleston, SC. Bennett became best friends with my mom as well when they all moved to Atlanta in their college years. In fact, they got along so well that they decided to start The Dessert Place together. Running a business with a partner certainly has the ability to strain a relationship; but my mom and Bennett complemented each other's skills extremely well. To this day, amazingly, they're still best of friends.
Bennett, chosen as my godmother, has been a part of my life forever. When I think of my childhood, I have vivid memories of playing at her home, hanging at her desk at The Dessert Place, and spending many Christmas and New Years Eves together. When I told Bennett I wanted to bring back her and my mom's business, she shed a few tears (perhaps a mixture of shock and joy...I like to think it was mostly joy). Tears aside, she has been so incredibly supportive and proud of my journey, and a tremendous consultant for all creative parts of the business. From editing wording on the website to giving opinions on packaging, she has a wonderful eye for detail. I'm so thankful that she has trusted me to bring back and carry on the legacy of the business that she and my mom built together.
Read on for Bennett's perspective on meeting my mom, starting a business, and the scariest part of opening The Dessert Place:
[Left to right: My mom (Sheryl), me, & Bennett having fun together]
Q: How did you and my mom first meet?
A: Although I met your dad when we were both attending nursery school at Little Red Wagon in Charleston, I didn't meet your mom until we were in college. Every time I think of that afternoon, it brings a smile to my face. And, in retrospect, the irony of it is so obvious. However, in deference to our semi-respectable stages in life, I think it best that I keep this answer “vague”. But, let it be known that I it was very funny and it entailed an impressive amount of a baked item. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Q: How did the two of you decide that you wanted to open The Dessert Place back in 1979?
A: It was a wacky idea that, somehow, actually worked. In 1979, your "food purchasing options" consisted of grocery stores, restaurants, bars and bakeries. Regardless, we successfully convinced ourselves that there was a desperate need for a place that sold only desserts and was open for ridiculously long hours. After all, doesn't everyone crave dessert at 10:30 on a random Tuesday night when it's 38 degrees outside? Since neither of us had ever worked in a restaurant, we had no idea what we were signing up for. We were oblivious to that fact that, at least at the beginning, The Dessert Place would be an all consuming and arduous undertaking. We didn’t even know enough to know what hurdles we would be confronting. In retrospect, it was probably better that we were clueless.
Q: What was the scariest thing about starting a business?
A: Since, at the time, there wasn’t anything like The Dessert Place, there was always the possibility that we were the only people on the planet that thought this was a viable concept. (See “clueless" above.)
Q: What are some of your favorite memories from the original days of The Dessert Place?
A: It’s one thing to conjure up an idea, but the opportunity to see it unfold is a very special experience. It was a long journey from inception to completion, and every stage had its moments. And since, for all intents and purposes, we had no idea what we were doing, everyday brought new and exciting things our way... installing our skylight, putting that first test batch of CCBs in the oven, Thanksgiving dinner on a piece of plywood in the dining area of DP1 while it was still under construction, the delivery of our beautiful neon sign, the first time the line stretched outside the door. The process was, literally, a dream come true.
Q: Do you have any specific memories of my brother and me hanging out at The Dessert Place when we were kids?
A: Your mom and dad did an incredible job including both you and Shea during the entire process of developing The Dessert Place, from construction to completion. You were both there often, checking out our progress. When it opened, It was so amusing to see the two of you “owning the right” to come behind the counter and help yourself to goodies and ice cream. Rank has its privileges.
Q: The Dessert Place has been closed for more than twenty years. Do people still ask you about it?
A: It never ceases to amaze me! When people find out that I was one of the owners of The Dessert Place, they always have a story to tell. CCBs, first dates, holiday goodies, the coffee, rainy afternoons studying in the dining room… The tales are endless. I don’t think your mom and I understood the memories that so many people had of The Dessert Place until it closed. To this day, I love hearing comments from people. It just goes to prove that there really were people that actually craved dessert at 10:30 on a random Tuesday night when it’s 38 degrees outside!
Q: Did you ever think your old business would come back to life again? What was your first thought when I told you that I wanted to re-open The Dessert Place?
A: First, to put this in context…I tear up at touching commercials, a cute new kitten / puppy, and a meaningful toast at a wedding. So, when you told me about your plans, first I cried, and then the grin set in, and then the pride set in. I’ve been grinning and proud ever since. (Fortunately, the tears have stopped.)
Q: What was the most popular item on the menu back in the day?
#1 Cream Cheese Brownie, center cut
#2 Cream Cheese Brownie, end
#3 Cream Cheese Brownie, corner
Q: Lastly, what's your favorite way to eat a Cream Cheese Brownie?
A: Given my druthers, i would cut the crust off the entire tray of CCBs and keep it for myself.