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The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

Mel’s Cheesecake and The Wooden Grove are family owned, Hammond proud

Melissa+May%2C+owner+of+Mel%E2%80%99s+Cheesecake%2C+and+LeAnne+Miller%2C+owner+of+The+Wooden+Grove%2C+pose+for+a+photo+under+The+Wooden+Grove+sign.+
Victoria Collins
Melissa May, owner of Mel’s Cheesecake, and LeAnne Miller, owner of The Wooden Grove, pose for a photo under The Wooden Grove sign.

The Wooden Grove and Mel’s Cheesecake are two of Hammond, America’s newest small businesses.

Born and raised in Hammond, sister-in-laws Melissa May and LeAnne Miller are operating their small businesses and using their roots to guide them along this journey. 

For May, the owner of Mel’s Cheesecakes and More, her Southeastern connections aided in her transition to becoming a small business owner. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management and administration.

May said, “Southeastern gave me the foundation to know what resources I had available. There is a small business office that SLU got a grant to aid the public with small business matters. I think because I’m an alumna, I knew where to go.” 

The Louisiana Small Business Development Center is a hub for small business owners to receive aid for their businesses either once or periodically.

Even with her background in business management, May said she never intended to start her own business. 

“My husband’s favorite dish is cheesecake and I’d never made one, so I made my first one, strawberry cheesecake, on Nov. 21, 2022, and that’s what started everything,” May explained.

Another fundamental reason for starting her own business was the freedom to be with her son the majority of the time. 

“I could work while at home with my son, who is a medically complex child. We often have aides or nannies come in and help. Now that I have consistent help, I feel I am finally able to do something that brings me joy. Feedback drives me and I absolutely love that I can make a cake and be present as a mom at the same time. My son is happier with me at home and I’m living in the moment,” May said.

On June 7, she officially opened her small business after receiving a ton of support from her family and friends. 

Among the family members who encouraged her was LeAnne Miller, owner of The Wooden Grove. 

According to Miller, she has worked in retail since she was 17 and has been developing the skills necessary to have a successful business ever since then. While using those skills, Miller takes pride in making downtown a place for families to shop. 

Miller said, “Not a lot of people have gift shops in downtown Hammond right now, so we wanted to bring shopping downtown. We want everyone to feel welcome and accepted and find something here either for themselves or a friend.”

The Wooden Grove opened on Aug. 26 and is located in downtown Hammond. For Miller and her family, there was a desire to bring a new storefront to their hometown. Additionally, she said the name comes from her family’s love of travel. 

“We love going to national parks and traveling. The Redwoods is one of our favorite places. When you walk through the grove of redwood trees and sequoia trees in California and Washington, it is such a serene feeling. It feels cozy, calm and welcoming and we wanted our name to represent how we felt in the groves,” she stated.

The Wooden Grove sells a variety of different items, including stickers, jewelry, decorative cutlery and paintings of different shapes and sizes. 

Miller said, “It takes a village to grow a successful business and you can find that when you put yourself in the right groups of people.” 

Patrons can visit The Wooden Grove, at 112 S. Cypress Street. Mel’s Cheesecakes and More can be found on both Instagram and their website

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About the Contributor
Victoria Collins, Staff Reporter
Victoria Collins is a freshman nursing major specializing in communication sciences and disorders. A local of New Orleans, Victoria is fresh off the press as one of the newest staff reporters. She enjoys reading, writing and taking long naps. After graduating, Victoria aspires to be a speech-language pathologist.
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