OMI Wichita Cheesecake Co Photos (28 Of 30) Cropped

Tenant Success StoriesA Recipe for Success

Local Cheesecake Company Celebrates 6th Anniversary

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"A lot of times when the pressure of running a business seems overwhelming, I stick the key in the lock and I realize… man, I’m going somewhere that I want to be.” - Mark Daniels, Owner

A baker, a business degree, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a local niche to fill all mixed together to make the perfect recipe for starting a cheesecake business in Wichita.

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A Family Mix

The Wichita Cheesecake Company is owned by Mark and Grace Daniels and operated with the help of their two daughters – Rya and Mi-Kel – who help with baking, filling orders and marketing.

The company offers made-fresh-daily cheesecakes in more than 30 flavors, including banana pudding, caramel praline pecan, caramel apple, and New York style. They also offer seasonal flavors as well as custom orders. Cheesecakes can be purchased by the slice, as well as in sizes including minis, 6″, 8″, 9″, and 10″.

They started the business out of their home in 2017 and quickly outgrew the kitchen. They then utilized the commercial kitchen at their church for a couple of years, and are now celebrating the company’s third anniversary at its current location at the Union Station – Grand Hotel building in downtown Wichita.

“My wife, Grace, had been making cheesecakes for our family for the past 20 years,” said Mark. “She was self-taught and went through a lot of trial-and-error, but she enjoyed the process and enjoyed making them for family and friends. Then, one day our nephew wanted to hire Grace to make some cheesecakes for a company party. They were a huge hit and people suggested we start a business.’”

The Daniels decided to dip their toes in the business waters by purchasing booth space at a local bridal show. They brought 1,000 cheesecake samples the first day of the show, which were all devoured within the first two hours.

“After that, Mark added, We thought, maybe there’s really something to this and we decided to give it a go.”

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Cooking Up the Deal

Driving down Douglas Avenue one day, Mark noticed a “for lease” sign at the kiosks on the plaza in front of the Union Station Terminal building. He had no idea what it entailed to
lease a commercial space, or what it was going to take, but he decided to call the number on the sign.

“I gave Occidental Management a call, set up a time to see the space and before you know it, I had prepaid six months upfront on a lease using some money from my 401k, and quit my job on the spot. I just went for it.”

The Wichita Cheesecake Company was established at the kiosk building where they stayed for two years, and then the Daniels were ready to expand. Occidental’s team worked with them to get into an already-established space at the Grand Hotel, making it more cost-efficient than building out a completely brand-new space.

“And six years later, here we are. It’s had its challenges, of course, with COVID and all, but navigating these challenges is fun. And the smiles that you see from people that come in who enjoy what it is you do on an ongoing basis, I mean I think that’s something that I could do for the next 20-30 years.”

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Serving Up Variety

Mark and Grace originally planned to one day segue into offering food on their menu, including bagels and sandwiches but didn’t want to get ahead of themselves. The popularity of their cheesecakes has kept their hands full. In 2022, the Daniels worked with the owner of a former sandwich shop in town, Metro Grill, to see if they could revive the restaurant. In the summer of 2022, the Cuban-inspired sandwich shop re-opened within the Wichita Cheesecake Company space, expanding the food offering for the cheesecake company’s existing
customers as well as helping to bring in new customers.

Chad Stafford, President of Occidental Management, said the shared space has been a win-win for both businesses. “It’s a unique situation, but it’s worked well for both businesses. Metro Grill already had a loyal following from their previous location, and the shared space has increased exposure for both businesses.”

To further enhance their restaurant offerings, Mark says next up on the menu will be beer, wine and cocktails, which they currently have in the works.

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The Icing on the Cake

In addition to a natural entrepreneurial drive and a supportive, hard-working family, Mark says that community support has been essential to the success of their business. He’s found that the business ecosystem in Wichita is bigger and more closely knit than one might think. He credits organizations including Create Campaign, the Wichita Chamber of Commerce, and Wichita’s Small Business Admission for all being a part of the Wichita Cheesecake Company’s growth.

“Six years in, and I see nothing but a positive future ahead. And knowing that my kids see me in a role that I want to be in, that I get to teach them to be a part of and show them that
it’s possible to take a thought in your head and turn it into a dream … That’s fun for me.”

Wichita Cheesecake Company is located at 801 E. Douglas in Wichita. They are open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and offer online and call-in orders, as well as walk-in sales for items available in their display case. To learn more or order online, visit wichitacheesecakecompany.com.

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