My daddy's delight

Thursday, February 14, 2008
My Daddy's Cheesecake filled up for lunch April 26. (Kit Doyle)

The name, the popularity, the franchise all started with one question.

"Do you want to try a piece of my daddy's cheesecake?"

About 20 years ago Tom Harte began selling cheesecake out of his kitchen at the encouragement of friends. His daughter started asking the question to customers at her summer waitressing gig.

My Daddy's Cheesecake started in that home kitchen and steadily outgrew location after location. Wes Kinsey bought the restaurant in 1996 and now runs it alongside business partners Kevin and Susan Stanfield and Bill Stanfield, Kevin's father.

Kinsey worked for My Daddy's Cheesecake and had heard it was for sale.

"I knew it was for sale for a couple of years," he said.

He began seriously looking into purchasing the business in the mid-1990s and then, he said, "one thing led to another and we ended up buying it."

In 1998, the owners started selling pastries over the Internet. Their Web site takes orders for cheesecake from across the U.S., but their regular customers are what Kinsley likes the most about owning the business.

"On the restaurant side, it has to be just greeting and talking to customers as they come in," he said. "We have so many regular, everyday customers; that has to be the most satisfying [thing]."

My Daddy's expanded the menu from just cheesecake, pastries and muffins to a full menu of breakfast lunch and dinner items. They even have a My Daddy's Coffee label roasted in St. Louis.

"We are a fast casual restaurant," Kinsey said.

After customers make their order, they head to fill up their cup. Next to the drink station hangs a map of a brightly polka dotted world. Colored quilting pins spread out over every continent, pushed into the paper by traveling customers marking their territory.

The free standing building on Broadview Street off William Street seats 65 in the main dining room and has a banquet room with a projection screen, speakers and space for 35.

In April 2007 the company became a franchise. The first offspring opened in December in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.

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