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Peteet's Famous Cheese Cakes

13835 Nine Mile Road
Oak Park, Michigan 48237

Patrick Peteet

Patrick Peteet has lost his father, family business, home and car in his 43 years. His answer? Rally his family, start a new business and create a new life. To say that Peteet believes that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger would be stating the obvious.

"I always tell people if something happens to you, use it as a strengthener," Peteet says. "Don’t use it as a crutch and say, ‘We can’t move on.’ You better move on."

Peteet was a teen when his parents were building up the family real-estate company in the 1990s in Oak Park. His father traded a life working on the line at Ford to start his own real-estate brokerage. He grew it to the point it employed him, his wife and then his son. Then he died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1997. Peteet rallied his family to keep Peteet Realty going.

"You get back up or you lay there and cry," Peteet says. "It's OK if you lay there and cry, but you had better get back up. Life is as hard as you make it. It’s as fun or as bad as you make it. It’s just a mindset."

Then he took over and grew the business to 20 agents, selling, managing and investing in Metro Detroit real-estate. The Peteet family was flying high by the time housing boom his in the 2000s. When the bottom fell out of the housing market and the economy by the end of the decade, the family business was out of business. Peteet and his family were burned out of real-estate. They lost their houses and their cars and were left looking what’s next.

"I didn't take it personally because it happened to everybody," Peteet says. "I feel bad for the people who weren’t able to recover. Some people didn’t know where to go. Thankfully, we had a Plan B. Truthfully, it was the best thing that happened to me in my life."

Cheescake. That was the answer Peteet came up with. Baking was always a hobby for him. In 2010 he and his brother started baking cheesecakes for friends to put gas money in the car. That grew into Peteet's Famous Cheese Cakes, a dynamic cheese cake shop in the old Stage Deli location on 9 Mile Road in Oak Park. Betting the family future on something as simple as cheesecake can appear terrifying to many people, but the Peteet family ran toward the opportunity to build another business from scratch.

"It's kind of easy when you lose everything," Peteet says. "When they have lost their houses and their cars, everything. We were burned out of real-estate, that is the short of the matter."

Peteet's Famous Cheese Cakes offers 90 different flavors of its double-layer cheesecake with gluten-free and Kosher options. It sells between 60-80 cheesecakes a day and is so successful the company is looking at opening a second location in Oakland County.

"Sometimes you need to take a step back to go forward," Peteet says. "I never cursed God when it happened and I am not cursing him now when I am gaining."

It all comes down to attitude for Peteet. Tragedies in life aren't there to drag him down. They're there for him to overcome. He is still breathing so he’s still building. It’s that sort of tenacity that keeps him going.

"Life is as hard as you make it," Peteet says. "You can look at the glass as half full or half empty. It’s your call."

- Written by Jon Zemke

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