A recent contract with a manufacturer will allow a Milwaukee-area maker of St. Louis butter cakes to expand its distribution.
Gary Plassmeyer, the founder and chief executive officer of Mama Bev’s Bakery in Hales Corners, said the transaction will allow his company to introduce its desserts to regional retail players in the Chicago area and around South Carolina. Plassmeyer spun Mama Bev’s into its own business after his previous operation struggled against nearby road construction.
In 2017, Plassmeyer and business partner Andrew Baer brought their pizza restaurant 9th Slice Pizza Co. to 5620 S. 108th St., the former site of a Jake’s Deli restaurant. Construction on Highway 100 put a damper on business, Plassmeyer said earlier this year, and they decided to close the restaurant.
He transitioned 9th Slice to focus on the desserts he served at the former pizzeria. The butter cakes developed a “cult following” at 9th Slice, he said.
Since shifting his attention to Mama Bev’s, Plassmeyer said his intention has been to bring the cakes to a national level. The opportunity came faster than he planned.
“We’ve got a really good team of industry people who are guiding the ship a little bit and have been in the food and beverage manufacturing, distribution world for 30, 40, 50 years that have some pretty good contacts,” Plassmeyer said.
Locally, he said, business has fared well. After retooling the pizzeria, Plassmeyer said the retail space opened the week before Covid-19 restrictions took effect in Wisconsin. But Mama Bev’s ships nationwide, and the company has sent cakes to every state in the nation over the past few months, he said.
Plassmeyer attributed the success to his dessert’s unique attributes. He said customers are also attracted to the community work by Mama Bev’s, such as feeding people who are homeless.
Meanwhile, Plassmeyer has also been working on his other venture, Thermonator Holdings LLC. He developed the technology business while trying to improve 9th Slice’s delivered product, aiming for a crisper finish on products like pizzas and fries.
Plassmeyer said the business is testing a prototype in a few markets. Thermonator is working with a third-party delivery company to see how the product performs in the field.
“Coronavirus made it more valuable, because everything is going to delivery,” he said.