Skip to main content

A labor of love

Ashwaubenon restaurant puts focus on family, food and customer satisfaction

share arrow printer bookmark flag

August 29, 2022

ASHWAUBENON – For a person who owns a business founded on baking, Kaysie Kimps, a trained chef, has an interesting take on the art. “I hate baking with a passion,” she admitted. “Bakers measure everything and you can’t play with it. Cooking is immediate, you watch the stuff and you’re involved and tasting.”

That being said, there is something that Kimps said she does love – her family. So, even though she was in the middle of a thriving culinary career in New York City, when her mother, Nancy Kimps, asked her to come home to Green Bay to help with the family business – CheeseCake Heaven Café, Deli & Bakery, located at 2075 S. Oneida St. in Ashwaubenon – Kimps said she left everything behind and did just that.

Where it began

Kimps – who works as a chef/delicatessen specialist at CheeseCake Heaven – said the bakery opened in 1995 on Commanche Avenue in Green Bay when she was a junior in high school.

“My mom started making cheesecakes for Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Door County,” she said. “From there it just grew and she opened a small (shop) that had a storefront. They offered cheesecake, a little bit of bakery and some coffee – espresso was just getting big at that time.”

After Kimps graduated from high school, she went to The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City to pursue a career in culinary arts.

“I like making original, one-of-a-kind, high-quality food for people that they can’t get anywhere else.” – Kaysie Kimp, chef/delicatessen specialist, CheeseCake Heaven

“It was a two-year program that I finished in a year and a couple months, because it was so expensive to live there,” she said. “I got a job at the restaurant that I had an internship at called Butter. My head chef was Alex Guarnaschelli. I worked there for a year and a half. Then I went to a celebrity catering firm. We went into famous people’s homes and did parties and hors d’oeuvres. It was amazing.”

Kimps said the current Cheesecake Heaven location on Oneida Street opened in 2004.

“This was a deli featuring sandwiches, soup, cheesecake, bakery items, coffee drinks and we had a beer and wine license,” she said.

Kimps said the business now brands itself as a restaurant, bakery and lounge – with the lounge in the suite adjoining the restaurant.

It features a bar, pool table, couches and a seating area for dining, which she said serves multiple purposes.

Kimps said customers can hang out in the lounge watching TV while enjoying food and drinks, it serves as overflow seating for the restaurant and it’s used for private events.

“Our main revenue in the lounge is hosting things like wedding showers, baby showers and retirement parties,” she said.

Pre-pandemic, Kimps said CheeseCake Heaven was open seven days a week, however, in its wake and struggling to find help in this day and age, the establishment is currently just open Tuesday through Saturday, as they actively look to hire.

The breakfast menu is available from 9-11 a.m. during the week and ( a.m. until noon on Saturdays.
“We have a build-your-own waffle bar for brunch and quiche,” Kimps said.

In addition to the food served on site, she said CheeseCake Heaven has a thriving catering business that delivers meals to local businesses as well.

Kimps said Cheesecake Heaven also makes wedding cheesecakes.

Though the restaurant once had a staff of 20-25, right now it’s at about 15, which she said means a lot of hours per week for her (usually around 55) and her mother (who works close to 70) and her father Tayo Kimps, who’s helping out during his retirement.

Kimps said it has a commercial bakery off-site, which is where her parents spend the bulk of their time, noting there is a wholesale side of the business as well.

“We make all the biscotti for a local chocolate store,” she said. “We make cheesecake for an area pizza chain. We have around 15 wholesale accounts.”

In addition, the Kimps had a seasonal store in southern Wisconsin for years that they’re considering relocating to Door County.

Cheesecake focus 

?Kimps said CheeseCake is still one of the restaurant’s featured items – making 90 varieties – but it has come to be known for several other menu items as well.

“One of our signature items is our house-made lobster bisque soup,” she said. “People say it’s the best that they’ve ever had. Our chili, which is gluten-free, that’s really popular. We have six different soups every day, and we have a half sandwich and soup combination that’s the most popular thing that people get.”

Kimps said the extensive menu also includes a create-your-own salad.

“It’s kind of like a salad bar, but you don’t have to do any of the work,” she said. “We make it. It’s beautiful and it’s large.”

Kimps said she not only mans the front, but behind-the-scenes, in the kitchen as well. She said cooking keeps her busy as most of the food is made-from-scratch, including the soups and sauces.

 As like many businesses, Kimps said CheeseCake Heaven has needed to raise its prices to cover increased costs.

CheeseCake Heaven Café, Deli & Bakery, located at 2075 S. Oneida St. in Ashwaubenon. Heather Graves Photo

“We value our regular customers, they are our friends and our extended family and to have to raise those prices, it’s heartbreaking,” she said. “But, if we don’t, we will not be here next year.”

Kimps said Saturdays are the busiest day of the week, maybe because it starts serving drinks at 9 o’clock in the morning. She said she would love to open on Sundays again if they can find the employees.

With the location in eyesight of Lambeau Field, gameday business is huge, something she said they discovered again this past season when the Green Bay Packers had a home playoff game on a Saturday.

Kimps said many of the Packers players are customers who they know on a first-name basis.

Kimps said advertising for CheeseCake Heaven consists of all word-of-mouth, saying that was how the business was built. She said she does everything she can to keep her customers happy.

“We have so many repeat customers,” Kimps said. “I always want everything to be perfect for them. I like making original, one-of-a-kind, high-quality food for people that they can’t get anywhere else. People tell us all the time how great it is. I’m grateful, because it’s so much work. But, it’s a labor of love. We work really hard to make this go. We are working in our businesses every single day.”

share arrow printer bookmark flag

Trending View All Trending