Lion Cub’s Cookies Opening First Brick-and-Mortar in GrandviewOctober 20, 2020 8:00 am Susan Post
This spring there will come a day where customers can waltz up to Lion Cub’s Cookies’ Grandview storefront and get their massive, ooey-gooey cookie fix in a matter of minutes.
From pop-ups to a coronavirus delivery pivot, Lion Cub’s Cookies is ready to make it permanent, taking over the former home of Peabody Papers at 1261 Grandview Ave.
It all started with the Googling of a pumpkin cookie recipe. Founder Brad Kaplan, while he loved to cook, had never really thought of himself as a baker. However, between a busy schedule of working as a civil engineer and attending night school at OSU to earn a business degree, he started baking.
Kaplan kept experimenting with that first pumpkin cookie recipe. He wanted to make a giant, baseball-sized cookie, but the traditional dough recipe just spread. The goal was a cookie that was thick and gooey, but didn’t spread. True to engineer form, Kaplan tried and tracked hundreds of test bakes to get the ratio of ingredients just right.
“The joy is eating them while they are still super fresh and doughy,” Kaplan says.
He wondered why he couldn’t get that experience anywhere but his own kitchen. By May 2019 the quest for thick, giant, gooey cookies had gone from hobby to business idea and Lion Cub’s Cookies was officially formed.
Kaplan wanted to launch in a low-risk fashion, opting for pop-ups to start. Some fortuitous connections and a make-it-work attitude scored Lion Cub’s Cookies pop-ups at the North Market.
Part of the charm of Lion Cub’s Cookies is the doughy texture of coming straight from the oven. Unable to bake on site at North Market, they carted cookies from their commercial kitchen space at ECDI’s Food Fort to the Market during their pop-ups.
Lion Cub’s Cookies sold out within three hours at their first pop-up, with cookies disappearing as fast as they arrived. Kaplan says they broke the revenue record for a pop-up, and then broke their own record several times over.
Their last pop-up was the first weekend of March – the weekend that should have been the Arnold. Then, the lockdowns began.
Kaplan says at first they thought they’d wait it out for a few weeks and be back to baking cookies.
“The wait it out plan didn’t last very long,” Kaplan says.
Almost immediately, a few of his part-time employees were laid off from their other jobs. Kaplan decided to see what he could do to help.
Initially, Kaplan had been hesitant to put Lion Cub’s Cookies into delivery territory with its complications and liability. However, he quickly realized it was the most viable option given the situation.
“If they are already in their homes, let’s bring it to them,” Kaplan says.
Pivoting employees to delivery drivers, the new delivery-only model took off.
Working out of a shared, commercial kitchen, Lion Cub’s Cookies’ delivery days and delivery hours are limited. Cookies arrive in the suburbs on Tuesday and Wednesday, and parts of Columbus on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
But, that’s one of the things that will change with the new storefront. Kaplan says the plan was always to open a brick-and-mortar location for Lion Cub’s Cookies, but what that storefront looks like has changed drastically. Initially, the plan was for a cafe where cookie cravers come to them. Now, their Grandview Avenue location will serve as a storefront, production kitchen and delivery hub.
At 1,200 square feet, there will be a small space for customers to come in and order cookies. Customers can get as many (or as many, there are no fewer when it comes to cookies) cookies as they want instead of the six or 12 required for delivery.
While orders are currently pre-sale, Lion Cub’s Cookies will also introduce on-demand delivery out of its new space – think just like pizza, but for cookies. They’ll likely keep a similar delivery footprint to where they operate now, and still hit the suburbs at least one day a week. Having their own dedicated space will also open the cookie maker up to options like catering.
Lion Cub’s Cookies will continue to rotate their menu weekly – and expand their offerings. The current lineup includes two standards: Chocolate Chip and Cookies N’ Cream, something for the chocolate lovers, and one feature cookie. They’ll up to five or six kinds of cookies a week at the storefront, the two standards, two chocolates and two features or some combo thereof.
Kaplan calls the location of their new storefront perfect. The neighboring businesses provide the perfect compliment to a cookie shop – a kid’s store, Cub Shrub, coffee, Stauf’s, and ice cream, Jeni’s.
While COVID has done a complete 180 to their plans, as Kaplan describes, it’s towards changes he’s thankful they were able to make. He says the situation has opened his eyes to how lucky they are that they are able to pivot quickly as a small and relatively new business.
The decision to start delivery was really driven out of the desire to help Lion Cub’s Cookies’ employees and is now a pivotal part of the future business model.
“Do things for the right reasons and everything else will fall in line,” Kaplan believes.
Lion Cub’s Cookies will look to their loyal followers to help carry them over the finish line of opening their first storefront. On Wednesday, October 21, they’ll launch an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise $40,000 to cover the cost of kitchen equipment.
Kaplan turned to crowdfunding for two reasons. First, he says one of Lion Cub’s Cookies’ biggest strengths is the community they’ve formed around them, and they want to utilize that strength. (And there will be plenty of cookies and perks in return.)
The second, “It’s next to impossible to find money from a bank right now, especially in the restaurant industry, especially as a startup,” Kaplan says. It’s a situation that was frequently true even outside a global pandemic.
Lion Cub’s Cookies is aiming for a spring 2021 opening at 1261 Grandview Ave. For more information, visit lioncubscookies.com.