Mississippi cheesecake company proves Love Works: Couple serves up delicious desserts while serving the homeless

Published 6:43 am Saturday, November 13, 2021

City Hall Cheesecake is not only serving up some of the best cheesecakes in the South, the small business is serving the homeless and those in need for the long-term through the efforts of new owner Kim Daly.

Before Daly and her husband Vance bought City Hall two years ago, the duo were running Love Works 25:40, a non-profit family organization that provides a transitional home, education and employment assistance and ministry about Christ.

“We’re not your typical blanket, sandwich and socks ministry that you see so often in homeless ministries,” she said. “Homelessness in our community looks very different than it does in a much more urban setting.”

In micropolitan and rural areas, homelessness is a long-term situation and those who undergo it experience incredible difficulty. Daly said as they work to get people off the streets and address their immediate needs as quickly as possible, their goal is to help people gain steady footing and provide for their spiritual needs as well.

“We’re not viewing them as a project to be fixed,” said Daly. “We’re viewing them as a person to be loved.”

The duo wanted to help those in Love Works’ ministry who could not find jobs and stable sources of income and City Hall Cheesecake presented a wave of possibilities that they could not pass up.

The beloved sweet shop began in Daly’s native town of Hernando and it was run by local school teacher Diane Bishop and her husband who sold the treats in the old city hall location. Bishop created a recipe that made City Hall a staple of the north Mississippi town and it is still used in all three locations this day.

“It really is the best cheesecake you’ll ever put in your mouth,” said Daly. “It’s not like your traditional cheesecake. It’s not dense or a hard cheesecake. [Bishop] has managed to come up with something that is light and fluffy and delicious.”

The first site was close to Daly and her family, so she and her family would often take short walks over to grab a slice.

“We had loved City Hall before we even knew Diane or knew the story,” she said. “We just knew it was really good cheesecake.”

It’s serendipitous that as the property changed hands and location over the years, the business was eventually offered up for sale. After Vance jokingly suggested buying the business, they ended up buying it.

“What’s funny about this is that I had never made a cheesecake before buying City Hall Cheesecake,” said Daly. “I had no clue, no restaurant experience and no business experience. My background was in education and ministry, so I really had no idea what I was doing.”

City Hall employs people in the community who need their first opportunity at a job in a safe and welcoming environment or are taking their try at making a steady job work in an encouraging environment that will push them to move forward.

She said she had no idea how big the business would grow once she bought it and before she knew it, two more locations were being established in Southaven and Oxford and replicating the ministry’s business model.

Rachel Isbell opened the Oxford location, inspired by the actions taken by the Daly couple in Hernando to spread their resources and services to the LOU community. Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic posed some health issues to Isbell and Daly bought the location from her to continue the ministry.

“It’s not just a business to us,” said Daly. “It is ‘How can we employ people who need that chance,’ ‘How can we put life, truth and hope into our team members,’ and also ‘How can we serve our community?’”

Love Works hosts regular date night events like Marriage and Relationship ministry and gives them relationship building questions while offering discounts on cheesecake and coffee. In addition, the organization holds adoption fundraising, raising money and donating a portion of City Hall Cheesecake’s sale to families who are choosing to adopt.

“I want to be obedient to whatever the Lord wants me to do,” said Daly. “We want to be as big of a blessing as we could possibly be to as many areas and as many people as possible. My heart is to duplicate this model of business as many times as we can without me losing my ever-loving mind.”

The growth of the ministry and the business is a huge blessing, she said. Love Works and City Hall Cheesecake will continue to meet people where they are and be a support to those in the community who need it the most.

“We know it looks different than a traditional business but we want it to look a little different than a traditional business,” said Daly. “It really is a ministry first and a business second.”

For more information on City Hall Cheesecake, visit www.cityhallcheesecake.com