In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Len Johnson, the co-owner of Better Than Sex - A Dessert Restaurant, to talk about where Len's wife Dani gets her inspiration as head baker, and how she "tested" her recipes on all their dinner guests.
We talk about the genius behind the restaurant's name (it was all Dani's idea), how they had the "guts" to even start this business after the recession, and how changing their client focus catapulted the brand.
Be on the lookout for the Better Than Sex podcast, and don't forget to visit any one of their many locations to try, "Cookie Nookie Pie," Between My Red Velvet Sheets Cheesecake," "Peanut Butter Perversion," "The Morning After," just to name a few.
More on Better Than Sex - A Dessert Restaurant
Our dream began in 2003. As newlyweds, I was eager to make my husbands every desire a reality, so when he exclaimed to me “I want dessert!”, I wanted to impress!
Four hours later after patiently waiting, a fully decorated two-layer Oreo Cookie Cake appeared. Len was a happy hubby. He proclaimed it ‘amazingly delicious’ and said: “wow if you can do this, what else can you do?” I am not one for letting go of a challenge and really wanted to “show him” what I could do! Then began the odyssey that leads us to today.
My love of baking stemmed from fond memories in my Italian family’s kitchen alongside my mom. So, I continued and began teaching myself how to bake. I collected all of my recipes, saved receipts, and took photos of everything I made. Something guided me to do this without reason for several years. Our concept for BTS had not formed yet. I would bring my creations to work and test them out on friends and co-workers. They would often exclaim “you should do this for a living.” Len and I secretly agreed.
When Len said to me ‘write a menu’ and “I’ll write the business plan,” challenge #2 was accepted. We knew we wanted to create an after-dinner experience, an extension of an evening in a romantic and sophisticated sexy atmosphere. And so, it begins….
In 2006 we threw a Valentine’s Day Dessert party at our house and invited a few unsuspecting friends. Some of the dessert items we have on the menu today were tested on them. Our idea to open a dessert-only restaurant was officially validated that night.
We put our twisted minds together and had an incredibly fun time creating what is now Better Than Sex - A Dessert Restaurant.
On May 20, 2008, we officially opened at our original location, 411 Petronia Street to a full house!
We always believed in our idea and ourselves, however, the road after was a bit more challenging. The first reviews were less than positive and at one point we only had a few thousand dollars to our names. We Never Quit!
Then in 2010 Better Than Sex was featured on the Travel Channel and the rest is history. By 2012 the little location on Petronia Street was standing room only. We needed a bigger restaurant. It was decided to pick up and move to the current Key West location. Our last night at the Petronia location featured our team and guests picking up their tables and chairs and walking them down the block and setting them up in the new space.
On December 26th, 2015 we opened our Orlando location. Len and I met over 20 years ago waiting tables in Orlando and it seemed like a perfect fit for our second spot. Orlando opened its doors to a packed house and has been successful since.
Coming full circle, on Valentines’ Day of 2016 we were blessed to have been featured on CBS Sunday Morning. As you can see, Valentine’s Day is significant to BTS. “We valentine, all the time.”
We are passionate about what we do and now want to share that opportunity with other like-minded people. We are currently offering our concept to franchise nationwide.
And to think, this was all born from an Oreo Cookie Layer Cake.
Back in 2003, as husband and wife, we made a promise to ourselves….“Lists do work, agreements work, if you believe it, have a partner that can hold you accountable, you can and will make it happen.” We always will!
With Passion, Dani Johnson - Co-Founder
Franchise Inquiries: https://www.betterthansexdesserts.com/franchise/
Music Playlist: https://players.customchannels.net/betterthansex/index.html