Foodies are rushing to satisfy sugar cravings at Crumbl Cookies in North Pensacola. Mark and Callie Van Wagenen opened the franchise earlier this summer to extraordinary demand due to strong social media presence and a devoted following from customers who have enjoyed the mouth-watering cookies in other locations across the country. One such couple arrived at 6AM opening day waiting to get cookies when the bakery opened at 8AM. Other cookie lovers waited patiently in line up to two hours for cookies the first day of business. The Van Wagenens expected a slow ramp-up in business but are surprised at how many cookies are sold from their little shop. They report using 500 pounds of flour a day.
Delectable cookie flavors change each week with new choices for chilled and warm cookies. One recent week the flavors included: BUCKEYE BROWNIE–chocolate brownie cookie with a peanut butter buckeye layer and covered with melted semi-sweet chocolate; HONEY BUN–warm soft cinnamon cookie, swirled and brushed with a honey butter glaze; CONFETTI CAKE–confetti sugar cookie topped with a fluffy swirl of pink vanilla cream cheese frosting and finished with large confetti sprinkles; ORANGE CREAMSICLE–chilled tangy orange cookie studded with white chips and packed with a creamy vanilla cheesecake filling; CLASSIC SUGAR–classic sugar cookie base topped with a perfect pink swirl of almond-flavored frosting; MILK CHOCOLATE (always on the menu)–award-winning warm cookie with milk chocolate chips. Are you hungry yet?
The Gulf Breeze couple started their Crumbl Cookies journey in Arizona where they visited a Crumbl Cookies location. Mark recalls “a line out the door, a place that smelled amazing, and huge cookies.” They were hooked. The Van Wagenens each left other careers to fulfil the dream of owning their own business where their work styles complement each other. Mark focuses on operations, marketing, and employee development while Callie enjoys back-of-house operations with her head down reading spreadsheets. But nothing prepared them for the unique demands of entrepreneurship. Callie admits she has experienced long shifts with lots of work while Mark has sometimes used his Prius to deliver powdered sugar and flour to meet the cookie demand. Callie has been a baker her whole life and jumps in to help create extra batches to keep up with orders.
Crumbl Cookies prides itself on being a tech driven bakery offering online ordering, an iPad order option in the shop, and an app which supports a rewards program allowing customers to earn and redeem points at any Crumbl Cookies location across the country. The app and latest cookie offering details are available at https://crumblcookies.com/pensacola.While ordering, inventory, and communications are automated, cookie creation is hands on, and service is personally delivered by a team of Northwest Florida residents.
Many team members are students in culinary programs at Northwest Florida colleges and trade schools. Others are attending Tate, Pace, or other high schools and Crumbl Cookies is their first job. The staff quickly expanded from 45 team members on opening day to 82 employees to meet the current demand. The bakery location in a small shopping complex at 1690 E Nine Mile Road was selected in part for easy access from anywhere in Pensacola and its proximity to the UWF campus. The shopping center is home to tenants who thrive by bringing customers to the community of locally-owned businesses.
Dough for the toothsome cookies is made daily from all-fresh ingredients except frozen berries on occasion. Refrigerated cookies are discarded after three days, but Mark laughs that so far, their cookies have never lasted more than one day. As a testament to quality, one culinary student who previously worked at another bakery in town and was amazed to learn during her employment interview that she would actually crack eggs and use fresh ingredients every day. She was excited that she would look at a recipe and follow the instructions to make cookies, rather than pulling a premade mix from the freezer.
In addition to walk-in and curb-side pickup services, catering is available for as few as 50 cookies and as many as several thousand. Batches for catered events are a 1.25-inch size rather than the 4.25-inch size sold individually and in smaller packages. Catered cookies are popular for weddings, office meetings, parties, showers, even gender reveal parties with the color representing baby gender hidden inside the cookie.
Callie especially likes working with businesses and organizations that support children. She says, “We want to be good members of the community and be a support to people around us whether that’s through catering orders or supporting an organization. This is where we live too.”