ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Sean Brezzell has always planned to expand his cheesecakerie to have multiple locations.
The owner of 24th Cheesecakerie and “The Cheesecake Guy” told us just that when we spoke to him last May when he opened his first cheesecakerie in Briarwood Mall.
Just over a year later, he will be opening up his third location in Madison Heights, which will be run by Brezzell’s childhood friend, Brandon Dent, and his wife, Lydia. The two are already part of the cheesecakerie’s executive team and help at the Ypsilanti location, but they will take over operations responsibilities at the new location, which is slated to open October 1.
“They know the community out there and that is what we’re all about -- impacting the community by adding value to it,” said Brezzell. “We just want to add some type of value to it, and if we can do that with cheesecakes, why not!”
The new store will be located on John R Rd. and 13 Mile Rd. and Brezzell said there is more in store for visitors to the new location. It will sell whole cheesecakes on-site and he is thinking of adding more sweet treats like, cheesecake milkshakes.
The Madison Heights store will still have the same homey-feeling that the two other locations have, complete with family photos and decor create by Brezzell’s wife, Lisa. Visitors can anticipate a space set up for games and they will also be able to rent out the space for special occasions.
Brezzell said the location has a space for visitors to see what the creative cheesecake makers are up to as they make sweet treats. The location will allow the cheesecakerie a place to practice its franchising operations by incorporating feedback and experience.
In addition to opening up the third 24th Cheesecakerie, Brezzell said that he will also be collaborating with local business people to add their products to his stores. Right now he’s working with Ypsi Hat Company and partners with small businesses for events.
“We want other businesses to be able to gain some ground. We want to be a platform for other people to come in because it’s hard to get to that next step,” said Brezzell.
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“He’s being a little modest,” Dent said about Brezzell. “He says he sells cheesecakes but really, its a combination of cheesecake and opportunities.”
According to Dent, Brezzell is giving opportunities and a platform for others, like himself and Lydia. Their creative ideas have already hit the shelves at both the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti locations in the form of cake pops and chocolate-covered cookies. The Dents have also used their business knowledge to shape the cheesecake brand’s e-commerce presence.
Dent added that he has seen how the cheesecakerie has impacted the Ypsilanti area and supported the community around it. He said the Brezzell gives everyone time when they ask to pitch their ideas.
Brezzell said that the idea of having a purpose has been passed down to him from his mother and grandmother, the other cheesecakerie co-owners.
“Beyond just making cakes, our purpose is to be good people,” said Brezzell, “and I’m glad, that as we step up on our third pedestal, I think that being good people is what really got us to that point.”
It’s that purpose that has made the community support his businesses, even during the pandemic. He said that as things shut down, business dropped but customers would regularly come in to buy cheesecake slices. Some would even order four whole cheesecakes at a time to show their support.
For Brezzell, the goal is to be a platform for other businesses that can also leave a footprint in their communities, like what he is doing with 24th Cheesecakerie.
Brezzell and Dent said that the Madison Heights community has already reached out online to welcome them to the area. Dent added that even as they were looking at the location, community members were already approaching them asking what they hoped to do with the space.
Right now, visitors to the Madison Heights location can anticipate soft hours of noon to 7 p.m. during the week. The shop will close on Saturdays so that the team can observe a day of rest.
While the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down business, and Brezzell’s plans for additional locations, it also gave him and his family time to focus on expansion, not just in the number of stores but in how they impact the communities around each location.
Find 24th Cheesecakerie in Ann Arbor’s Briarwood Mall or at 14 N. Washington St. in Ypsilanti.