cheesecake in Menlo Park

Maybe it should be obvious that there’s actually a person behind Namesake Cheesecake, one of the commissary businesses that operates at 425 El Camino in Menlo Park. To Menlo Park residents who grew up in the 50s, 60s and 70s, the name has particular relevance.

This was the era when going to Rickey’s Garden Hotel in Palo Alto was a very big deal, reserved most often for special occasions. And one of the hallmark dishes was Mrs. Rickey’s cheesecake.

Explains Namesake Cheesecake owner/baker Cherith Spicer: “My parents were good friends of the Rickeys, who were neighbors. I was named after Lorrainne Cherith Rickey and was given the recipe for her namesake cheesecake.”

That was inspiration enough to start a business, after Cherith landed back home with her parents in Palo Alto when they were experiencing health issues. She’d spent 10 years in Los Angeles where she did a bit of acting and was a part owner of a Glassell Park bar called Verdugo.

“I’ve always been drawn to jobs where I can work for myself,” she says. “The cheesecake business has been fun because it gets me involved in event planning and weddings, particularly for those who don’t want to go the traditional wedding cake route.”

In addition to the retail/kitchen space on El Camino — where much of the business is special order — Cherith can be found Thursdays at the Portola Valley Farmers Market. “It’s small and really  local,” she says.

Asked what she’s found most surprising in the two years she’s been making cheesecakes, she’s quick to reply “the degree of local support — it’s been terrific.”

As a byproduct of her business, she’s reconnected with a lot of the friends she grew up with. “They’re so genuinely happy for me,” she says. “The loyalty is refreshing and nice — and quite different to what I experienced in Los Angeles.”

Photo by Scott R. Kline