April 23, 2014

Cheesecake Carousel joins downtown Rock Hill food scene

Growing up in New York City, Kenneth and Vanessa Jones were swept up in the pace of the city. Now they're bringing a piece of New York City to downtown Rock Hill with the opening of their new bakery, Cheesecake Carousel.

Growing up in New York City, Kenneth and Vanessa Jones were swept up in the pace of the city.

“The energy of the city is contagious. You go at a fast pace whether you want to or not,” Kenneth said.

The couple recently moved to Rock Hill, in part, because of the city’s slower pace.

“You can walk slow here, see what’s going on, it’s a good fit,” Kenneth said.

They are, however, bringing a piece of New York City, and Montreal, to downtown Rock Hill.

The New York aspect is the eclectic variety of foods and cultures.

“There’s definitely a food scene in Rock Hill being created and we want to be part of it,” Vanessa said.

The Montreal connection is the kitchen of Vanessa’s aunt, Marie Luvin, where the then 7-year-old Vanessa learned to cook, bake, and most importantly, make cheesecake.

“It takes patience and a lot of layers of love,” to make the perfect cheesecake, said Vanessa. “It’s a very temperamental cake.”

For the past seven years, Vanessa Jones has operated the Internet-based “Cheesecake Carousel,” catering to event planners and others who will order one or several of the 30 flavors of cheesecakes she makes.

The Cheesecake Carousel opens at 11 a.m. Thursday at 149 E. White St. It’s a simple, small store, much like you expect to find in New York City. The menu is equally as simple, cheesecake and coffee.

The Cheesecake Carousel joins two other transplant bakeries from Charlotte, Amelie’s at the former Citizens Corner building at the intersection of Main and Caldwell streets and Nova’s Bakery on Cherry Road. The bakeries, downtown’s restaurants and opportunities connected with the city’s Knowledge Park economic development strategy, helped convince Kenneth and Vanessa Jones that downtown Rock Hill was a good place to open a business.

The store’s opening is dream come true for Vanessa. In New York City, she was a health care administrator by day, a cheesecake baker and mother at night. Kenneth drove a truck.

Now, Kenneth will man the store. Vanessa will be at home with their two boys, Cornell, 4, and Denzel, 3. She also will spend time at a commercial kitchen they lease, taking the family recipes and expanding the quantities to make dozens and dozens of cheesecake cupcakes, about 10 dozen at a time.

What won’t change is the amount of patience and love Vanessa puts into each cupcake.

The result, she said, is a decadent, creamy cheesecake that’s “very old school. You can taste the love. This is America’s dessert.”

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