Finding hope in a cheesecake
Although she has a degree in biotechnology, Lailee Ho has always dreamed of owning a bakery where she could share the foods she grew up with in Malaysia. In July of 2019, she saw a small, midtown restaurant for sale. And in October, her dream opened up for business in the form of Roti, a Malaysian bakery.
Along with two employees, she made and sold goods like egg tarts, red bean buns and Japanese Cheesecakes. Then five months after opening Roti, Anchorage went into a hunker down period because of the COVID-19 pandemic. By the time restaurants were allowed to reopen, Lailee Ho’s two employees we gone, leaving her alone to keep her business alive.
She knew she couldn’t offer a full menu. So, with the bold move of a dreamer, she decided to do just one item: Japanese cheesecakes.
“It was one of the popular items that we were selling before the hunker down,” Ho said.
Alone in her kitchen, four days a week, she mixed eggs, sugar and cream cheese into her delicate cheesecakes. With the help of social media, people could order the cakes through a no-contact pickup. The popular menu item was still selling fast, but not fast enough to sustain the business.
Ho recently announced she is putting the bakery up for sale.
Roti is another small business to quietly become the newest economic victim of the pandemic. In spite of it, Ho remains positive.
“Get back up. Brush your knees," she said. "And then continue along and see if you still want to follow that dream or follow something else… but at least you tried.”
She hints that wherever the next chapter of her dream leads, she hopes there will be cheesecake.