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Photo via facebook.com/grandmascheesecakesandwiches
Grandmas Cheesecake Sandwiches heart-shaped cheesecakes
 /    /Tuesday, February 5, 2019 12:30 PM

 

One Bayside baker is challenging everyone to be kind to the homeless this Valentine’s Day.

Lisa Cotoggio, the founder of Grandma’s Cheesecake Sandwiches, has created the Hearts4Homeless Valentine’s Day Challenge and will be distributing over 150 heart-shaped cheesecake sandwiches to homeless individuals in Manhattan and Long Island.

“I think it’s really important that we make them feel welcome. As it is now, the homeless population has gotten very bad here in the city and the rest of the country and our politicians are not doing anything to help. So I think maybe starting this challenge would be able to get people together to go out and help them,” said Cotoggio.

Cotoggio created special heart-shaped cheesecake sandwiches with cherry centers that she plans to give out to people living in several homeless encampments. The baker uses her grandmother Raphaella’s cheesecake recipe and sandwiches the confection between two freshly baked cookies.

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, Cotoggio will be at the Babylon and Hicksville Long Island Railroad Stations starting at 11 a.m. On Thursday, Feb. 14, at 11 a.m., she will give out the sweet treats in Midtown Manhattan from Fifth to Seventh avenues between 32nd and 36th streets.

In a video announcement, Cotoggio challenged viewers to hand out heart-shaped chocolates, cupcakes and other Valentine’s Day treats to the homeless on Valentine’s Day. She noted that people should ensure that the individuals they give treats to do not have any food allergies.

“Let’s just see what we can do to make them feel better. It is the most romantic day of the year and they deserve to feel the same way we do,” said Cotoggio.

The Valentine’s Day cheesecakes are currently available in two varieties — cherry and strawberry — on grandmascheesecakesandwiches.com. For a limited time, you can use the code 10%6PACKHEARTS to get 10 percent off a six-pack of heart cheesecake sandwiches.

 

 

 

Contributed photo by Ruben Morales

Lisa Cotoggio, Grandma’s Cheesecake Sandwiches owner, left; Charles Degliomini, executive vice president of Empire Resorts and Resorts World Catskills; and Tayla Shlang, public relations manager Resorts World Catskills, pose at the casino.

Cheesecake Sandwiches for everyone

By 
FRITZ MAYER

MONTICELLO, NY — Ever heard of a cheesecake sandwich? Lisa Cotoggio of Queens started a business the makes cheesecakes sandwiches based on a recipe her grandmother Raphaella used to make.

The powers that be at Resorts World Catskill heard about the unique snacks and decided to use them in a promotion at the casino. On October 23, the casino gave away 1,000 Grandma’s Cheesecake Sandwiches at the casino to their 55 and older Players Club members.

The website for the sandwiches is grandmascheesecakesandwiches.com. A post there says Cotoggio first thought her business would sell single slices of cheesecake, but that wasn’t practical. Then she “got the idea to stick the creamy confection between graham crackers, which later evolved into cookies. Cookie flavors include plain, milk chocolate, chocolate chip and amaretto for the holiday season.”

 

Bayside baker uses grandma’s recipe to create a delicious dessert mashup and build her own business

 

Photos by Ruben Morales

Lisa Cotoggio with Resorts World Catskills casino guests.

Imagine silky, homemade cheesecake sandwiched between two freshly baked cookies. That incredible dessert mashup is what Bayside resident Lisa Cotoggio has christened as Grandma’s Cheesecake Sandwiches, a business that was born out of a desire to be her own boss and escape sexual harassment in the workplace.

Cotoggio has always been a baker, recalling her childhood playing with her beloved EZ Bake Oven and spending time in the kitchen from a young age.  Her grandmother’s cheesecake recipe came to mind during the early stages of trying to come up with a sustainable business. The light and fluffy dessert was always a hit with anyone who had the pleasure of tasting it.

Before making her first foray into starting a business, Cotoggio had worked in several industries where she experienced sexual harassment. She recalled getting fired in 1985 by her employer after refusing his sexual advances. She subsequently took the case to court and won the case against her former employer.

Whether she worked in hospitality, sales or the restaurant industry, she said, sexual harassment would follow. The business owner said that she frequently switched jobs as a result of the harassment she faced but adds that she had always reported these incidents to higher-ups.

Most recently, she filed a lawsuit against Mercedes Benz in Massapequa, Long Island after a coworker had groped her. That incident was the final push she needed.

“In January I thought ‘I needed to start a business.’ I wasn’t gonna put up with it,” said Cotoggio.

Grandma’s Cheesecake Sandwiches samples

At first, she had the idea to sell her grandmother’s cheesecakes by the slice — she tweaked the recipe and asked hundreds of people to try it. She recalls the time she encountered a “cheesecake connoisseur” at the Whitestone Firehouse who told her that it was some of the best cheesecake he had ever had.

Eventually, she realized that selling slices of cheesecake was not practical and got the idea to stick the creamy confection between graham crackers, which later evolved into cookies. Cookie flavors include plain, milk chocolate, chocolate chip and amaretto for the holiday season.

Cotoggio said that she does all of her baking at Cardinali Bakery in Carle Place. The owner Giuseppe Maura is a friend who allows her to use the facility and enlist the help of his employees.

Her intention was to open up a food truck, but learned that the city had applications dating back over 10 years that they still needed to fulfill. Instead, Cotoggio sells the confections at local grocery stores in eastern Queens including Empire Market and Benateri’s in College Point, Varsi Deli in Whitestone, Marino’s Supermarket in Flushing and Robert’s Butcher Shop in Bayside.

Her products are also available online and can ship to the tri-state area. A pack of 6 sandwiches costs about $36 plus shipping and tax.

Lisa Cotoggio Grandma’s Cheesecake Sandwiches Owner; Charles Degliomini, Executive Vice President Empire Resorts and Resorts World Catskills; Tayla Shlang Public Relations Manager Resorts World Catskills

Earlier this week, the entrepreneur had the opportunity to work with Resorts World Catskills, which gave out 1000 of the treats to Player’s Club Members aged 55 and older. She said that the company will also be distributing 1000 of the cheesecake sandwiches to “Prime 55” members on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Her ultimate goal is to expand her business and open up her own store. She shares that she wants to be able to employ women and make it a safe space for them to work. Her message to women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace is “you don’t have to stay.”

“Other women find themselves in situations that they can’t get out of. But you don’t have to put up with this stuff,” said Cotoggio.

For more information, visit grandmascheesecakesandwiches.com.

 

 

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