BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — He may be a mortgage professional by day, but Tom Ginis is best known for one thing — cheesecake.
When he’s invited to parties and family occasions, friends often ask if he’ll bring one of the creamy, delectable desserts along to share.
“It would be, ‘Tom, I’m having a party. Can you bring a cheesecake?’” the Trumbull resident said with a smile. “Then it started to be, ‘Can you bring two?’”
Now everyone can get a taste of this secret family recipe — perfected over 37 years — at Poppy’s Cheesecake, a Bridgeport-based kitchen serving up the traditional New York-style treat to restaurants, hotels, country clubs and specialty markets since 2014.
The recipe — known only to Tom, his wife and his two children, Poppy’s owners Katie and Alex Ginis — actually started with Katie and Alex’s “poppy,” a longtime New York City maitre d’. Harry Ginis worked at the Barbizon Plaza on Central Park for 35 years after serving in Special Operations in World War II.
When Alex and Katie were little, they had a tough time pronouncing Papou, the Greek word for grandpa, so they called their beloved patriarch “Poppy.”
“He was always in the kitchen, always laughing, always happy,” Katie said of her grandfather, who passed away in 2005 at 84.
Tom worked with his father, tweaking the family recipe and sharing it with chefs over decades to make sure he could turn out the perfect cheesecake every time.
The signature Poppy’s cheesecake features a wrap-around graham cracker crust and is available in both classic and chocolate. In the fall, the company also offers a pumpkin variety and key lime makes an appearance in summer.
Poppy’s also offers mini cheesecakes and individual “bites,” the perfect after-dinner treat at parties, Katie said.
The business is growing mostly through word of mouth and Tom now spends two to three days a week in the shiny stainless steel kitchen on Remer Street.
Katie, who lives in New York City and works in Saks corporate offices, and Alex, who works for a credit union national association in Washington, D.C., pop in as often as they can to help behind the scenes.
While Poppy’s is predominantly a wholesale business now, the Ginis family hopes to move into retail and already offers cheesecakes for sale at Spic & Span Market in Southport. Poppy's is also available for pre-order and pick up at The Market at Gus’s in Harrison, N.Y. Call 914-835-5321 to order from The Market.
The family may also branch out into toppings for its cakes, including berry compotes, Katie said. As always, the family will keep an eye on quality.
“We make absolutely everything on demand in handcrafted small batches,” Tom said. “It took years to get it right.”
To learn more about Poppy’s Cheesecake, visit poppyscheesecake.com .
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