Tami Cabrera, owner of Muddy Paws Cheesecake
Tami: Here!! Hello everyone!
Hi @TJCabrera! So share a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up, and did you always want to work with food?
Tami: I was born in Chicago and moved just over border to Delavan WI at age 7. My roots are tied in both though. I grew up in food indus..
My parents had two hotels with restaurants in them. I started cooking age 6. Always loved to cook. And cheesecake was always present!
I thought I’d leave the food industry though and went to veterinary school for 4 yrs. But I missed food and creativity!
I left veterinary school to complete to a marketing and advertising degree. I moved to MN for an in house marketing job. But still..
I missed the food industry. So, I started making cheesecakes for my co-workers:) And then…
When did you come to MN, and when did you decide that you were going to have cheesecake as your business?
Tami: I moved here 1991. I was faced with a choice and I took the road with the cheesecake…and left my job in 1996. I rented a kitchen.
NDC in St Paul offered me an incubator kitchen at an hourly rate. That truly helped! Then I decided on the wedding niche.
‘ll back up for a moment to say that I couldn’t find the kind of cheesecake I grew up with, when I moved here, so I started making.
Chicago cheesecake, much like NY Cheesecake, is dense, creamy, not overly sweet, and melts in your mouth. I missed it!
My co-workers went crazy (Shout out to ESG Architects!) so I felt there may be a need for cheesecake in the Twin Cities. So I began.
Did you have to be patient for your business to grow at first, or did it go crazy right from the start?
Tami: I had to be very patient…and very poor :) It took me many years to grow my business. I took a part time to support my income.
And I still work the part time, lol! I think I’m still worried I need a backup plan! Ha! Starting a bakery just might the hardest ..
….business to start. Banks don’t like to loan money to bakeries, there isn’t a high profit margin, hours are long and +++licenses.
But it’s all worth it when you do the work that is your passion. I never feel like I’m “going to work”. Our customers make it fun!
Good for you in persevering! Did you start selling to the public right away, (parties & wedding) or was it restaurants?
Tami: I didn’t have a store front til 2002, so I only sold to weddings and wholesale til then. I took all savings and put on a wedding ad!
It was a huge risk as it was a $2,000 ad in a wedding mag. It paid off. Weddings are still our no#1 niche and so fun for me to do!
I took other risks: building out 3 store fronts as well as advertising risks. You win some you lose some but I’m still standing:)
On my toughest days, I tell myself…”Tami you worried about the same things last year…but you are still here standing.”
You used to be on Hennepin Ave. When did you move from there to your current location?
Tami: Yes, we had our largest store in Uptown. Costs of dairy, gas, taxes, licenses were high and I had 4 small children, one newborn.
Uptown store was my baby too tho! I miss that store. But I had to make a choice as costs were so prohibitive. We moved 1997 to SLP.
I miss the cafe greatly and have some ideas on how to bring retail back (wink*) one day:) For now, ppl can stop in bakery anytime!
Our St Louis Park production bakery is walk-in only but ppl can stop by anytime we are open. We carry over 100 #cheesecakes daily.
We also deliver (*Just like Pizza*) anywhere in the metro. We deliver anywhere in Midwest too. PPL can get whole cakes or slices.
They’re good too! :) You’re probably asked this a lot, but how did you come up with the name “Muddy Paws Cheesecakes”?
Tami: Thank you! A friend came up with it (at firm I worked) based on my love of animals and background. I didn’t think the business …
….would grow to this level. It was just a fun name we thought. Then I went to change it.. ppl spoke up saying they loved the name.
So we stayed with the name. It actually became a very brandable, easy to remember name so I’m glad I did! It sounds gooey and …
…chocolatey too I think:) I wish I had trademarked “Muddy Paws” but I trademarked “Muddy Paws Cheesecake”. Some have since…
“borrowed” my name, including a local place. Oh well. Always good to be the first:) With the name and with the product. (Take note!)
It’s a VERY memorable name. What’s the farthest one of your cheesecakes was shipped to, and what are your top 5 flavors?
Tami: Thanks! We ship to the lower 48 states October thru April. Midwest only in summer. Farthest is CA. BUT? NY orders most! LOL!
Due to tariff laws and perishability, we can only ship in USA. We use special designed boxes with freezer packs to stay cold 2days.
Many people don’t know this but they can bring a cheesecake right on the airplane too! We will give them special packaging for it.
The funny thing is though, the security ppl always joke they need to “confiscate it”:) I’ve never had an issue flying w/cheesecake.
Top 5 Flavors: Raspberry Swirl, Turtle, NY, Chocolate Decadence, Key Lime. My fav? Espresso Kahlua! Then Coffee Toffee Carm Crunch:)
That said, we have 222 flavors….you really can’t go wrong with any:) Twitter has developed 3 flavors! 2gingers, Surly, and…
..and ginger pumpkin. We see a lot of Tweeps at the bakery. I love that! We carry 32 flavors daily but other flavors order ahead.
If refrigerated properly, and if temptation is kept under control, how long can a cheesecake last?
Tami: Lol on the temptation! Cheesecake is best when kept 4 days in the refrigerator or 1 month in freezer. Freezer is better tho (dairy).
For restaurants, it’s perfect because there’s no waste, it’s a local product, and we are fairly priced. We pre-slice all #cheesecake
I tell people (danger danger) that they should just keep a stock of cheesecake at all times in the freezer because you never know…
We also do cheesecake parties! Many don’t know this. Groups can come in to make their own cheesecake. Great for teambuilding, events
Is a cheesecake truck a possibility? As a business woman, what’s your top goal for 2012?
Tami: Actually, that was my wink*:) It’s in the makings right now! Money is taking me MUCH longer than planned but it’ll happen (a truck)!
My top goal for 2012 is a greater reach with the general public w/our cheesecake. That’s what we are asked most “How can we get it?”
As a business owner, I also hope to delegate more. I tend to do too much and spread myself thin. By delegating, I can do MORE.
Joel: Thank you so much Tami for your time time and comments today! You’re a good example for biz owners to not give up!
Tami: Thank you Joel! It’s the people that keep me going! Thank you for having me as a guest! This was fun! :)