Fans of the north-county cheesecake bakery de.lish Cheesecake Bakery & Cafe (1060 St. Catherine Street, Florissant; 314-831-7400) have been up in arms this week ever since owner Jeff Mullersman posted on Facebook that he was putting the business up for sale. It turns out it things aren't that black and white.
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Mullersman tells Gut Check that things came to a head after he asked for support on de.lish's Facebook page -- support for his cafe, locally owned restaurants and north county in general.
"I posted on Facebook just that we need support, and if you want us to stick around, were not going to be able to survive if we don't get the support," he said. "Like 20,000 people saw that, and it became an online flogging of the company. I probably shouldn't let it bother me so much, but I felt like the support wasn't there, maybe for north county."
This original posting caused many people to comment on wait times and lack of service at de.lish, something Mullersman says comes with having a small staff and limited kitchen.
"It makes me wonder if I should be doing this -- if my time and effort is worth it. It's not just about money. We have an open kitchen, so people come back and yell at me, and it's hard to do, it's hard to take," Mullersman says. "I kind of lost it, so i did publicly announce [the sale]. If somebody came along with the right offer, I would probably take it and very possibly leave north county. That would be my objective, to open something somewhere else."
De.lish often closes early when it runs out of cheesecake, much like St. Louis' many barbecue restaurants, Mullersman points out. He realizes having pre-cooked items would make things faster for customers, but he says that's just not what de.lish is about. It's an issue many in the restaurant industry probably recognize.
Mullersman maintains that he will sell de.lish if the right offer comes along, but for now he's staying put. He also says that even if people don't want to support de.lish, they should support independent businesses, especially now. He's not sure if the events in Ferguson over the last few months had anything to do with the dip in customers, but it certainly has affected other nearby restaurants.
"I'm not going anywhere [yet]. I've been open for over three years now, and there's a lot of nice comments too and people that support us," he says. "There are good customers out there, and they're the ones that keep us going."
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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