Cookie Cards, a dessert bakery in downtown Palatine, marked its first anniversary Thursday, Jan. 13, with a ribbon cutting officiated by Mayor Jim Schwantz and attended by officials from the Palatine Chamber of Commerce. The celebration will continue Saturday, Jan. 15, with a party for customers that will include cookie and cupcake tastings.
Located at 10 N. Bothwell St., Cookie Cards began as a mother-daughter partnership for Marti and Kerri Callahan. While freshly baked cookies with such flavors as oatmeal cherry and Creamsicle are sold in packs of six at the front counter, the business specializes in custom-made cookies that can be decorated with anything from a family crest to a corporate logo. A “cookie card,” as defined by Kerri, is a cookie that serves as a greeting card or business card.
Kerri estimates that 25 percent of the business is retail with walk-in customers and 75 percent is custom orders. Custom orders might be as large as 300, she said. “But a custom order for us could be two dozen peanut butter cookies.”
Kerri shares baking duties with her mother, but Marti does all the decorating. That is her mother’s passion, Kerri said. “The details and the intricacies are what she really, really likes.”
The results are so attractive that Kerri occasionally hears from customers who would rather admire the cookies than taste them. “Some people say that they look so nice that they don’t want to eat them, and I say, ‘Why would you not want to eat them?’ They’re delicious.”
Marti Callahan’s love for baking began about 35 years ago when she made the birthday cake for one of Kerri’s cousins. When Kerri was in grade school, she became known for bringing in cookies baked by her mom and individually decorated for every child in the class. The practice continued with Kerri’s younger brother, Ryan (who helps out at the store).
When Marti decided to operate a bakery once she retired from her full-time job, the family looked for a business location. Kerri said the perfect storefront opened at the perfect time. “It was her quintessential space,” she said: a quaint, small shop in downtown Palatine. Kerri, who also works as an architect in Chicago, designed and built the space.
The shop gained extra flavor in November when Kristine Kocanda brought her business, Cupcakes and More by Christine, to the location. For years friends had told Kocanda her cupcakes were so good she could sell them commercially, but she didn’t want to risk buying or building her own bakery. She started looking for a business with a commercial kitchen willing to let her use it part of the time. The Callahans agreed to such an arrangement and drew up a lease.
A merger of cookies and cupcakes seemed natural to all partners, and to their customers. “We were getting requests for cupcakes,” Kerri said of the shop’s early months, “and it’s not something we do well, and we don’t want to sell a product we don’t do well.” Kocanda’s arrival filled that sweet tooth gap. “We’re trying to offer a variety of dessert options,” she said.
Kocanda also takes orders for her cupcakes, and tries out new recipes so that the variety of flavors at the store is always evolving. A recent experiment that became a hit is a root beer float-flavored cupcake.
The Callahans also strive to refresh the variety of cookies at the counter. “We’re always trying to change the flavors up,” Kerri said.
Kerri Callahan said sales have been fine for the first year. Neighboring businesses have given them good word of mouth, and walk-in traffic has increased now that the Palatine Road construction project is on hiatus. Their goals are to continue to build recognition and to build enough business so that the bakery can be open six days a week (currently, the shop is open five days a week).
“Our overall goal,” Marti Callahan added, “is to provide a good-tasting cookie at a fair price.”
- Cookie Cards will celebrate its first anniversary party from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15.