It's said the smallest packages bear the finest gifts.
That sentiment easily applies to Ricki's Cookie Corner, a small bakery in Eastgate Shopping Center. The 1,000 square feet of Ricki's is packed - packed - with fresh breads, cakes, and, of course, cookies, which owner Ricki Krupp calls "chipsticks." The cookie bars - chocolate, double chocolate, ginger, oatmeal raisin, etc. - are crispy and flaky on the outside and chewy and packed with flavor on the inside. On many afternoons, they're warm from the industrial ovens that are just beyond the counter.
Krupp bakes something different each day. One day might be devoted to creating cakes - apple cinnamon, carrot, or blueberry pound cakes, just to name a few. Another day, she bakes dessert bars. Wednesdays and Fridays are usually the best days for fresh cookies, and Thursday is reserved for bread. Everything is made fresh using non-dairy recipes, which is good for customers who are lactose-intolerant and those who follow Kosher dietary guidelines.
"The one thing I don't make from scratch is a new line of low-fat muffins I just started carrying," Krupp says. "The batter is shipped from New York. They're sugar-free and naturally sweetened with apple juice. I try to have some available every day. There's blueberry, chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, and corn muffins. They're five-ounce muffins with only 160 calories."
A desk in one corner of the bakery serves as command central. This is where Krupp sold more than 10,000 pounds - five tons - of cookies during the last holiday season. Throughout the year, Krupp takes orders from businesses for gift tins and sweets and ships orders throughout the United States. However, her niche is the challah bread she bakes for local Jewish academies, families, and restaurants, such as the Box Lunch and the Beauty Shop.
"I bake 500 to 700 loaves of challah bread every week," says Krupp. "I make it plain, and I have cinnamon, cinnamon raisin, and whole wheat."
Every Thursday afternoon, the fresh loaves are packed in the display cases, piled on the counter, and stacked on racks.
In the center of it all is Krupp. She's roughly 5'2" and says she has to work out to manage the 50-pound bags of sugar and flour that are stacked along one wall.
Krupp, a mother of six, didn't start out baking cookies as a profession. She worked in a law firm for many years while raising four boys and two girls, now between the ages of 13 and 31. Baking was something she did for family and friends.
What began as a side job turned into full-time. "I worked out of my home for 15 years," says Krupp. "My business really started as a gift-tin business for the Christmas holiday season. That was my first venture. Then I started baking bread and started getting orders year-round."
As her business grew, so did her need for space. Four years ago, Krupp opened Ricki's Cookie Corner, which is located on a small side street in the Eastgate Shopping Center at Mt. Moriah and Park. Even now, she's nearly outgrown the location, but it is close to home and to her youngest son's school.
"I don't have a big place," she says. "I don't have the luxury of having a place for people to sit down and have a cup of coffee."
Though she's never advertised, her business continues to expand through word of mouth - or as she says, "taste of mouth."
"People taste my cookies or cakes, and then they tell someone," she says, "and it goes from there."
Ricki's Cookie Corner is located at 5068 Park Avenue and is open Tuesday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, all 866-CHIP (2447) or check out the Web site at Rickiscookies.com.