Like other businesses on Church Street, the Dessert Lady toughed it out the past couple of years with the double whammy of an economic downturn (which included, for some, the bankruptcy of their landlord) and disruptive construction. Some businesses didn’t survive; others relocated. But those who made it through are optimistic that Friday’s opening of Amway Center events venue will signal a resurgence for the area.
But the Dessert Lady, a.k.a. Patti Schmidt, has reason to be doubly glad to see the new arena open. There is, of course, the possibility of increased traffic on the street as people go to and from the arena. But for Schmidt, the Amway Center is also a new outlet for her award-winning cakes and pies.
Levy Restaurants, which won the bid to operate the concessions and restaurants within the event center, approached Schmidt and asked her to be part of their team of suppliers. So when you’re checking out the various concession stands and see something sweet, it just might have the Dessert Lady’s moniker attached. (Schmidt said her cakes and pies will be sold with her brand name.)
If probably didn’t hurt Levy’s chances of winning the bid to have Schmidt, who applied for a certification as a woman business owner. There was an early indication from the city that it wanted minority-owned businesses involved in the new arena.
But Schmidt’s chances of being involved in the Amway Center were actually better than Levy’s. That’s because all three of the major contenders for the concession contract approached her to be a part of their proposal. (One, she said, told her if she wasn’t part of their team they wouldn’t look kindly on her if they won.)
Schmidt has hired some new workers at the Church Street restaurant, and she’s purchased some equipment to handle what will certainly be increased demand.
Initially, she said, the restaurants in the center will offer her regular line of desserts, and will rotate the offerings. She expects to be supplying mini desserts for VIP boxes, as well.
Schmidt says she and other businesses have formed a Church Street District alliance, a non-profit organization that will promote each other and represent the businesses to the city. “There is power in numbers,” she says.