Baker Gerri Simmons manages three local businesses, has two young kids, and got married during a global pandemic — and yes, she made her own cake.
Through it all, she bakes.
Her main enterprise, Jazzy Cheesecakes, is a specialty bakery near Northlake Mall with dozens of cheesecake varieties and flavors. She bakes most of the cheesecakes herself.
“I love to make it. It’s like therapy for me,” she says. “I probably will always, no matter where it goes, be back in the kitchen baking. I don’t want to get away from that.”
She also owns Cake Depot, a cake and candy supply shop, and an apparel printing company called King and Sky.
Gerri says business at Jazzy’s has been consistent even throughout the pandemic. She says business owners are constantly faced with challenges to be overcome.
“The core of small business is to push through,” Gerri says. “You have to be strong willed to own a business because it’s hard.”
Gerri started baking as a teenager to cope with the loss of her uncle, Jazzy. He was like a father to her, Gerri says.
The two loved eating no-bake cherry cheesecake together every Thanksgiving.
“He was my inspiration for it all,” she said.
Gerri was still in high school when she started Jazzy Cheesecakes in 2004, four years after Jazzy died in a car accident. She did this all while completing a culinary program at East Mecklenburg High School followed by a degree at Johnson and Wales.
Sixteen years later, Jazzy Cheesecakes is still going strong.
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Inside the North Charlotte bakery, you’ll see a display case full of cheesecakes — strawberry, pecan, and Fruity Pebble. There are non-cheesecake items, too, including pound cakes and cookies.
One of Jazzy’s signature items is the cheesecake-duo: cheesecake with sheet cake layered in between. The bakery also sells cheesecake-stuffed apples with layers of white chocolate on the outside and creamy cheesecake piped into the apple’s core.
This summer, Gerri also started offering festival food like funnel cakes and fried Oreos on Fridays to help fill a void for customers who missed out on state fairs and festivals due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gerri likes to be creative in adding new variations on her sweets — like a pineapple upside down cake cheesecake duo. But she knows the value of traditional flavors as well, so she always has crowd-favorites like strawberry and red velvet on hand.
For first-time visitors, try a couple of items — at least one cheesecake duo and one classic cheesecake, maybe the strawberry. Also, don’t sleep on the sweet potato cheesecake. It’s like a sweet potato cake, not pie, and it’s rich and flavorful. A definite crowd favorite at Jazzy’s.
Pricing: Cheesecake stuffed apples are $7.99. Cheesecake duos start at $6.50. Other items like individual cake pops, brownies, and slices of dessert cake range from $2-$3. Full cakes start around $30.
Location: 9402 Northlake West Dr., Ste. 102. Open seven days a week.