Momo's decadent slices are available 24 hours a day in an Ellsworth garage.
By Joel Crabtree Photographed by Dave Dostie
Brenda Ledezma’s garage is full of cheesecake. Pumpkin chocolate chip, pistachio, strawberry rhubarb, carrot cake, cookie dough, and dozens of other varieties. Ever since Ledezma started Momo’s Cheesecakes, in 2016, her garage has been open 24 hours a day, every day, for help-yourself service. The system is simple: walk in anytime, grab a prepackaged slice or two — or even a whole cake — and leave cash or a check.
Momo is Ledezma’s nickname, short for “motormouth,” conferred by the manager of a local Chinese restaurant where she tended bar. Last summer, though, she quit restaurant work as her cheesecake side hustle grew into a full-time endeavor. The pandemic turned out to be good for a no-contact takeout business. “When COVID first started, we thought, ‘Oh, people aren’t going to be spending money,’” Ledezma recalls. “But no, it got busier. People had time on their hands. They would drive from three, four, five hours away.”
Momo’s was a destination even before — in the garage, a wall map jabbed with pushpins tracks customers from Maine, Montana, Canada, Russia, and so on — but the past year brought new levels of busyness. To keep up, Ledezma and her husband, Andres, converted their deck into extra kitchen space, and the couple now employs Ledezma’s sister and niece too. They’ve baked as many as 90 cheesecakes in a day.
Turtle cheesecake; the self-serve garage.
Since she lives on-site, Ledezma has gotten to know some regulars. A few, she’s noticed, hide their sweet tooths from significant others by scarfing a slice outside and tossing the container in the trash bin by the garage. Her far-flung fans occasionally reach out to see if she’ll ship cheesecakes cross-country. But apart from supplying small orders to a few mom-and-pop shops within an easy drive, she’s happy to stick with what works — there’s still only one way to pick from Momo’s vast lineup, and it involves a stop in Ellsworth. “I love it, and I don’t see myself doing anything else,” Ledezma says. “I can have my cake and eat it too.”