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Drayz Cakez one of many Black-owned businesses to set up shop at Toronto Food and Drink Fest this weekend

It’s one of many community events, festivals, and markets where you’ll see Peynado and staff from Drayz Cakez this spring and summer.

Drayz Cakez one of many Black-owned businesses to set up shop at Toronto Food and Drink Fest this weekend
Andre Peynado, owner of Drayz Cakez, swaggin' in some of his merch. The 'cheesecake boss' will be present at the Toronto Food and Drink Fest March 31 to April 2 at Metro Toronto Convention Centre. JORDAN MAXWELL SCREENSHOT

With more than 2,000 baked goods in tow, Andre Peynado and staff were ready to greet people in attendance and be of service at a Peel District School Board community engagement event last week.

For Drayz Cakez, based in Brampton, community activations are vital to the business reaching six-figure sales as he continues to build his brand.

“Our desserts were a huge hit, and our patties… I’ll say less. If you’ve been to Drayz Cakez, you already know. Let’s trip the number for next week, and I’ll see y’all (soon),” Peynado said in a recent Instagram post.

Where he’s referring to is the Toronto Food and Drink Fest at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (Booth No. 607) this weekend from March 31 to April 2. Check out the full list of Black-owned vendors and other participating brands here.

It’s one of many community events, festivals, and markets where you’ll see Peynado and staff this spring and summer.

Drayz Cakez did the Toronto Food and Drink Fest last April and sold out all three days. Since then, his business, which sells a variety of baked goods and desserts, has really taken off.

Last summer, Drayz Cakez opened a storefront on the second floor of Bramalea City Centre, a decision they made soon after finding success online and at other community activations.

A recommendation from Reveiller Afriq owner Juliann Barry solidified the move. Her store was the first Black-owned shop in the mall.

“It was the best decision we could have made,” Dray's wife, Anneika Peynado, who handles administration and backend operations at Drayz Cakez, told Black Dollar Magazine. “The mall has consistent foot traffic, and if you’re working at a standalone establishment, you’re relying on people walking by your store. The mall has walkers every single day, whether they’re shopping or not. We rely on those walk-ins, which helps the success of the business.”

She added that Drayz Cakez has a strong presence online. The business also has a return rate above 90 per cent. Anneika said they come from the Durham region to Detroit and beyond.

The Cheesecake Boss enters the building

The New Jersey native could’ve been an NFL linebacker, but a torn ACL cut his career short in college at Montclair State. Then, years later, Peynado became a financial advisor and sold RESPs, Anneika said. He was doing well. But then the pandemic hit, drying up his customer base.

Down but not defeated, Peynado turned to the art of baking, specifically a cheesecake recipe his great-grandmother passed down to Andre’s mom, who handed it to him when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018.

“She didn’t want the recipe to die, so she passed it on,” Anneika said. “He always shared her love of food and cooking with her. When she was going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she couldn’t eat any of it, but it put a smile on her face to see that he was doing something. And the cheesecakes became quite popular in our community, and we thought, ‘why don’t we monetize this?’”

Fortunately, she overcame her battle with cancer and is here to support Peynado’s new venture.

At his store at Bramalea City Centre, he’s bringing ‘love and swag’ to Brampton’s bakery goods industry. He also brings a lifetime of experience in the food service industry.

“Dray’s a fat guy. He loves food; he loves to eat. Dray grew up around food, and his parents own a local mom-and-pop shop in Bloomfield, New Jersey, open for 23 years now. He worked in high school at the store and became the operations manager.

“He didn’t go to school for this, so it’s all about a love for food,” she added.

Growth online and in the GTA

To grow his presence, Peynado records YouTube tutorials. He wants to teach people how to do it. He believes that a cake should look good and also taste good.

“That’s what keeps his clients coming back. There are a lot of people who have very-looking cakes, but they taste like cardboard. Dray challenges the flavour profile for everyone’s taste buds,” Anneika said.

She also said Peynado makes guest appearances on morning TV programs.

The community activations with the Peel District School Board have helped the business, Anneika said, and future events with the organization are planned this year. In the past, he’s been a part of Black History Month activations at the store and taught students how to bake and decorate cakes.

In the future, the Peynados said they want to continue strengthening the brand, grow its popularity, and one day look at franchising.

“You know Cake Boss? Think about it from a cheesecake perspective,” Anneika said.