FOR someone who's about to open a cheesecake and coffee shop in Crossgates, it's a surprise to hear Jason Thirlwall admit that he "didn't even like cheesecake".

But after a huge online success that saw his Wicked Cheesecake firm sell 1,000 of their tasty treats a week during lockdown, he's about to open the doors on a new venture and create jobs on Main Street.

Jason, 37, from Duloch, told the Press: "It started about a year ago.

"I didn't even like cheesecake before but I'd seen some pics online and some of them looked fantastic so I thought I'd try and make one that I'd enjoy.

"I made a few, and a few extra for friends to try, and they loved them.

"Word got round, the demand grew and we started selling them from the house."

He continued: "We started to get approached by shops asking, 'Do you mind if we stock your cakes?' and before you know it, we had 26 stockists in less than a year.

"Some of the weeks during lockdown we were selling 1,000 cakes a week, and all from our kitchen at home.

"We couldn't keep up with demand so the next step was getting a shop, which we're in the middle of kitting out and aim to open at Hallowe'en."

Jason is also an in-demand DJ who's performed everywhere from Ibiza and Argentina to Thailand and Poland, and with gigs understandably called off during the pandemic, he reckoned now was as good a time as any to switch from sweet tunes to catering for those with a sweet tooth.

He said: "Being a DJ is a weekend thing, flying here, there and everywhere, but it's obviously gone quiet on that front just now.

"This felt like the ideal time to open a shop, it's been a bit of a Godsend actually as there's nothing happening with gigs this year.

"So from someone that didn't like cheesecake, it's now at the point where we're going to open a cheesecake and coffee shop and employ five or six staff from the local area!"

If their online success is a guide, the new venture is sure to be a hit.

Jason said: "We've got a massive following, 12,000 on the Facebook page alone which is a lot for a business that's only been up and running for a year.

"We've done cakes for a wedding at Balmoral and we're even featured in a new book, Kilkie's Stay At Home Recipe Book.

"Michael's a good chef and a friend of mine. Every day he put up a recipe to cook from home, which are now going to be in a book that's out in about a month's time, and he asked if he could include one of my cheesecakes."

Jason and wife Sam started Wicked Cheesecakes and, while they'll both be on hand to help, they have full-time jobs, with Forth Ports and Taylor Wimpey respectively.

Their friend, Lisa Galloway, will manage the cafe at 2 Main Street, which used to be the Corner Shop.

He added: "All everyone wanted to do was eat cake during lockdown but it's calmed down a bit so we can concentrate on getting the shop just right.

"It's going to be really cool, with wooden scaffolding boards burned and sanded down for that real coffee shop look, and as well as cheesecakes and coffee, we'll sell cakes, milkshakes and ice cream too.

"With Divito's having closed in Crossgates recently, hopefully it'll help fill a gap and we can concentrate on making everyone fat again!"