CANTON — The letter B has been very good to Canton native Kenny Peterson.
Bulldogs, Buckeyes, Broncos and now bundt cake. Yes, the retired NFL defensive end, who earlier starred at Canton McKinley High School and Ohio State University, owns a new bakery.
It was about a year and a half ago in Denver that Peterson heard from a business client about a wondrous bakery chain called Nothing Bundt Cake.
"I found out there was one by my house, stopped by there and got (a cake), and literally I ate the whole thing myself. It was amazing, and I'm not even a sweets kinda guy," Peterson said. "The rest is pretty much history."
Peterson, who owns a medical device sales company in Denver called KP Medical, crafted a plan to open a Nothing Bundt Cake franchise in his hometown.
"I was sitting there thinking, 'This is something that could be pretty remarkable back in Canton.' There's nothing like this back there," he said.
Peterson's bakery held its grand opening Nov. 2 at 4468 Belden Village St. NW in Jackson Township, located in a plaza between Robeks and Smoke the Burger Joint. Business has been bustling. At 5 p.m. Monday, a steady stream of customers passed through the doors.Join the conversation at Facebook.com/groups/BuckeyeXtraFans and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
"It has been crazy almost every day. You have no idea," Peterson said. "To be quite honest, once you taste the cake, it's hard not to go back and get some more."
Yes, there are cake samples at the bakery.
While Peterson often is away in Denver, he has members of the home team on staff at Nothing But Bundt.
His aunt, Leeann Bryant, "runs the place when I'm not around, making sure everything is being done right," he said. His daughter, Alyssa Peterson, a senior at GlenOak High School, is one of the bakery's guest-service representatives. "She's been a huge help," her father said. "She's very smart. She loves coming in and interacting with people."
The bakery employs 22 people. "I've got a real good team. It's like a family," Peterson said. "They enjoy the environment they're working in."
Repeatedly, Peterson named people who have helped him launch his new business, including David Baker from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Jim Harris from Aultman Hospital and Steve DiPietro from Papa Bear's Pizza Oven.
"The community support has been amazing," he said. "I can't express my appreciation I've had from the city and Jackson Township. A lot of it is because of the relationships with these people I've had over the years."
Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, currently the president at Youngstown State Univeristy, already has visited.
Keeping a promise
Peterson aims to give back to the community as well.
Each Nothing Bundt Cake franchisee must select a local charity to support, and Peterson's is the J. Babe Stearn Community Center in southwest Canton.
"For me, that was an easy decision. I was born and raised on the southeast side of Canton, on 12th Street, and the boys club is what kept us off the street.," he said. "That helped me become the man that I am today. On certain days of the year, we'll do a fundraiser and (the center will) get 20 percent of the profits that day."
In 1997, during his senior year at McKinley, Peterson played defensive end as the Bulldogs enjoyed a perfect season, won the state championship and finished No. 1 in USA Today's national high school poll. Peterson was named Ohio's Division I Defensive Player of the Year, and the state's coaches association named him the best player in Ohio, period. (He also was a star basketball player at McKinley.)
He went on to play college football at Ohio State, then spent three seasons with the Green Bay Packers (2003-2005) and three with the Denver Broncos (2006-2009).
Peterson said his football experiences were good preparation for entrepreneurship.
"Playing football, you have to go through the trials and tribulations and all the things that arise at a game," he said. "Being an entrepreneur, you have to have those same characteristics. You have to get up and go get it every day. There's nothing handed to you. Whatever you want in life, you run it down until you achieve it."
As for the future, Peterson said, he plans to expand KP Medical in Denver and has further franchise plans with Nothing Bundt Cake.
The bakery offers bundt cakes in several flavors, including red velvet, pecan praline, carrot, chocolate chocolate chip and white chocolate raspberry, with butter cream frosting. A 10-inch cake is $32, an 8-inch is $22, bundtlets are $4.25 and cupcake-sized bundtinis are $19.50 a dozen. In its first month, the Jackson Township location already has done cakes for several weddings, as well as showers, parties and employee birthdays.
"We're baking every day here," he said.
Peterson grew emotional when he talked about his grandfather, J.D. Peterson, who died in November 2017.
"I promised him before he passed away that I was going to come back here and do something to honor his name and our family's name and make sure it's good in our community," he said. "I wish he was around to see it."