Wife’s amazing birthday gift came with ‘slice’ of adventure
When it came to picking out the perfect 30th birthday present for his wife Katie, Cyrus Wheeler didn’t settle.
He went all in — with everything on it, so to speak.
A few days before Katie Wheeler celebrated the Big 3-0 in August, Cyrus blind-folded her and drove her roughly 10 minutes from their home in Detroit’s Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood to nearby Grosse Pointe Woods.
So as not to let his wife figure out where they were headed, Cyrus took a couple fake turns, she said.
“Before he took the blind-fold off, he said, ‘I have a surprise for you’,” Katie said. “He said, ‘If you don’t want to move forward with this, it’s OK, but we have to decide by (a certain) date. We’re both in real estate (they own Match Realty), so I was thinking it was real estate-related … maybe a new house.”
When the blind-fold was removed, the couple were parked in front of a Papa Romano’s & Mr. Pita restaurant in Grosse Pointe Woods.
“Cyrus said, ‘This is yours if you want it’,” Katie recounted.
Earlier this month, the couple officially took over the restaurant — just in time to help distribute Papa Romano’s famous heart-shaped pizzas for Valentine’s Day.
“Everything Cyrus does has goodwill behind it,” Katie said. “His goals with this were to: A) have a place that would allow us to be more charitable; and B) give us a business that would allow us to employ some of my family members with part-time work. It’s also great because we’ll be able to provide jobs to younger inner-city kids because Detroit is right across the border.”
Owning a real estate brokerage firm and an eatery has been equal parts adrenaline-producing and sleep-depriving, Katie quipped, noting that she now needs more than 24 hours in her days.
“Forty would probably work,” she said, chuckling.
Rolling in the dough
Before being approved to take over the franchise, Katie was mandated to attend a 200-hour training course at Papa Romano’s Birmingham headquarters.
“I literally was chopping onions and rolling dough — everything that was necessary to run the store,” she said. “They told me before the training started that I’d be given a test after it was completed, so I memorized everything — the dough measurements, you name it.
“When it was over, I asked about the test and they said, ‘Get in there, you’re good to go’, so there was no test after all.”
Given her history, she would have aced it.
Born in Detroit and raised in Redford Township, Katie’s work ethic has been stellar since her pre-teen years when her first job consisted selling newspaper subscriptions door to door. She later worked at a Subway, Potbelly Sandwich Shop and Blockbuster before accepting an offer to work for a professional fundraiser.
Roughly 11 years ago she secured a mortgage baking job with then Quicken Loans (now Rocket Mortgage), where she thrived and — more importantly — met Cyrus.
The Wheelers founded Match Realty in 2021 and their roster of Realtors has expanded to 18 in less than two years.
“We plan on being hands-on owners with the new place,” she said. “I’ll be in the store until I have a home to show or some realty-related work to do and then Cyrus will take over for me.
“The most pleasant surprise so far has been the amount of support we’ve received from family and friends. I’m not surprised they’re all behind us, it’s just the level of support they’ve shown us has been amazing.”
The biggest question now isn’t if the Wheelers’ new business will thrive (it most-assuredly will).
It’s “What will Cyrus have in store for Katie’s 40th birthday?”
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