His first name is Steve.
He rarely is called that—even in the company of friends and family.
“Everybody calls me ‘The Cheesecake Guy,’ “ said Romeoville’s Steve Buresh, voted the winner in Patch’s Best Bakery in the ‘Burbs competition for December 2013. “Oh, yeah, it’s a compliment. It’s been kind of cool.”
The nickname. And the ride.
Buresh, 34 years old, started making cheesecakes for friends and family in 2001. Then, after losing his old job at the height of the recession, he went into business for himself, opening Steve Buresh’s Cheesecake Store.
He rents kitchen space in LaGrange—at 26 Calander Court. His speciality is a Turtle Cheesecake, which features homemade caramel and chocolate. At this time of year, he also serves up a more traditional holiday staple, Pepperment Crunch Cheesecake, which he describes as a combination of creamy and crunchy goodness.
He takes orders online at www.cheesecakestoreonline.com. And he delivers his goods to his customers himself, the list running the gamut from the man on the street to the area restaurant owner, motoring around the ‘Burbs in his “Cheesecake Mobile.”
Really, the Cheesecake Mobile is a blue Scion XB mini-van that he uses as an advertising/marketing tool, his web address plastered on both sides in billboard fashion and stickers/testimonials from his fans affixed to the back.
“I call it my mobile dessert unit,” Buresh said.
He has come a long way in a short time—and yet has miles to go to fulfill his dream.
“When I was laid off and I started looking, there wasn’t much out there,” Buresh said. “I needed money to support my family. I’ve always made cheesecakes. I decided, ‘Let’s see what I can do.’ I started a Facebook page and had 50 likes. Now, I’m over 1,500 likes and I keep blasting through it.
“It hasn’t been easy, trying to start a new business with no money. But I’ve had great support from my fans and my family and some of the restaurant owners who have taken me under their wing.”
Buresh isn’t getting rich. He sells about 20 cheesecakes a week. His wife, Kelli, is a kindergarten teacher at Bolingbrook’s Wood View Elementary School and the two pool their resources to make ends meet. They have two daughters, Julia, 8, and Jennifer, 4. Both are growing more and more interested in the culinary arts.
“I’ve been cooking and baking since I was young and now Julia is the same way,” Buresh said.
He has lived in Romeoville for 10 years and developed relationships with Mayor John Noak and others in the community through his fundraising efforts, many aimed at supporting local schools. His dream is to open a storefront business in town.
He is following in some big footsteps.
“I grew up in the restaurant business with my family in Brookfield,” Buresh said. “My grandfather had a restaurant. It was called, ‘Frank Buresh’s Lobster House.’ That’s one of the reasons I named my store ‘Steve Buresh’s Cheesecake Store.’ To put my name on it.
“It’s a takeoff on my grandfather’s ideal. He put his name on everything. He believed if you put your name on it, you put your heart into it, too. It meant something. It had to be good.”
Frank Buresh’s lobster house opened in 1948 and closed in 2001. Steve Buresh used to vacuum the floors at the old restaurant and used to wonder if the day would come when he would be called, “Chef,” not “The Cheesecake Guy.”
“My grandfather had nothing,” Buresh said. “He opened his restaurant inside a house. He built on to the right and to the left to make one big restaurant. People lived upstairs. My parents, I think, were there for a while. So, the business aspect runs in the blood.”
And the nickname is just for fun.
“When I started, they’d call me ‘Cheesecake Steve’ or ‘Stevie Cheese,’ “ Buresh said. “Now, it’s ‘The Cheesecake Guy.’ It’s stuck. I love it.”
More than 1,300 votes were cast in the Best Bakery in the ‘Burbs competition on Bolingbrook, Plainfield and Romeoville Patch sites. Buresh received 31 percent of the vote to outdistance runner-up Creative Cakes by Kerry (22 percent).
"I've never won anything before in my life," Buresh said.