Dough Street: Solon couple starts edible cookie-dough business
SOLON, Ohio – Entrepreneurs Katie Pollock and Andy Simms are rolling in the dough. Actually, rolling the dough is more appropriate.
The business idea the Solon couple had tossed around for a while has become a reality within the past few weeks: Dough Street, a mobile cart selling various flavors of edible cookie dough.
It was on a recent weeklong trip to California where the idea, which had been percolating for some time, really popped to the forefront. They didn’t kick around other ideas; their choice for an edible cookie-dough business hit fast. They had visited cookie-dough restaurants on their travels. On this trip, they saw a line out the door at a cookie-dough restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf. The next day, on an airport shuttle of all places, the ’a ha!” moment struck Pollock.
“We don’t need a store, we don’t even need a food truck; we need a mobile food cart,” said Pollock, a bundle of energy and ideas. “We can go to event-based weddings, corporate events, bar mitzvahs, family events, graduations, birthday parties, big Cleveland events.”
After they got off the shuttle she turned to her husband: ” ’You’re not going to believe what happened with my brain; I think I’ve got it.”
Simms bought the idea as fast as a kid can grab a chocolate-chip cookie still warm from the oven.
“Ok,” he said. “Let’s do it.”
It was July 15 when the couple was “100 percent decided” to go with the business. Since then, they have gotten into the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen, incorporated the company, worked on web design, and crafted a logo. Pollock has spit-balled ideas, worked on a gluten-free option and has tested batch after batch. They hired two part-time bakers and an event person.
“When we decided to go,” she said, “we don’t mess around.”
Some bakeries in Northeast Ohio were trying cookie dough but no one, as far as they could tell, was doing it exclusively. Aramark introduced Jane Dough, a mobile cookie-dough cart in FirstEnergy Stadium, a season ago for Browns games. It is scheduled to be back this year.
“This was it,” Pollock said. “People really like it or they have not had cookie dough in this form. It seemed like a great market. We weren’t looking to start another business.”
Simms added: “Our only issue was ‘Did we wait too long?’ It was one of those ‘If you build it we will come.’ ”
Unlike traditional dough, made unsafe to eat with raw eggs and raw flour, edible cookie dough is safe. It can be made with heat-treated flour and no eggs. Pollock and Simms have plans for a push cart with umbrella to accommodate indoor and outdoor events, and they can serve in cups or waffle cones. Flavors are original, chocolate chip, peanut butter and sugar cookies. Buy and eat, or take home and bake.
They had their first soft opening at Solon Pop-Up in the Park on Saturday, Aug. 18. Pollock made what amounted to be 250 servings of cookie dough.
“We thought we had so much dough,” she said. “We sold out in three hours.”
The couple’s background isn’t in food. Pollock is from Lyndhurst and Simms is from Pepper Pike, but they met at Indiana University, where they graduated in 1996. Pollock went into broadcast journalism while Simms attended law school and is a sports agent. They also are part owners of Title Boxing Club in Ohio City, and Pollock is a certified trainer. That skillset might seem to belie her occasional sweet tooth.
“I try to eat clean, but my weakness is sweets - especially chocolate-chip cookies,” she said.
Their first two customers approved of the business quickly.
When they decided to start Dough Street, the couple’s daughters were at camp without cellphones. The parents didn’t want to email. So they decided to try the straight-on approach.
“We picked them up and brought them cookie dough,” Pollock said. ” ‘We brought you guys cookie dough!’ We decided to start a cookie-dough company.”
“They were ‘For real?’ ” Pollock said.
“They ate it in five seconds.”
After the Solon pop-up, two caterers showed interest in Dough Street, and others inquired about graduation and birthday parties.
They are scheduled to participate in Cleveland Flea on Saturday, Sept. 8; the East Side Flea in the Van Aken District on Sunday, Sept. 16; Cleveland Flea in Asiatown on Saturday, Oct. 13; and East Side Flea on Sunday, Oct. 21.
Their end game encompasses both local retail and wide-scale distribution.“We both do other things, but there is a void in Cleveland,” Pollock said. “This is fun and delicious and we want everyone to enjoy it and have a smile on their face.”