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San Clemente Journal

Crumbl Cookies “The Best Cookies in the World”

Oct 13, 2021 11:59AM ● By Mary Colarik

The crew at Crumbl.

by Mary Colarik

If we are all honest, most of us have a bit of Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster’s enthusiastic desire to eat yummy cookies. We eat our veggies, fruits and lean proteins, however there is something visceral about indulging in a warm soft, chewy cookie - especially chocolate chip; the sweet chocolate taste lingering bite after bite. 

As a chocolate chip cookie baker and connoisseur, that quite honestly prefers my own perfected recipe, it is still hard for me to turn down the temptation of a fresh, hot from the oven chocolate chip cookie - especially when out shopping or running errands. I truly like the idea of being able to buy just one on the run, and not be tempted by an entire batch at home. And that’s the appeal of the cookie company Crumbl Cookies; “The Best Cookies in the World.” 

At this sweet shop recently opened in town, you can do just that. Stop in for one or more, have the cookies delivered to your home or place of business, or order some catered for a special event or party. A franchise … it is rapidly expanding across the nation from a humble beginning with the first small store opening in 2017 near Utah State University in Logan, Utah.

How the Cookie Crumbled
Sawyer Hemsley and his cousin, Jason McGowan were in their last year of school at Utah State University when they started mixing dough and trying to make the absolute best chocolate chip cookie around. After trial and error and throwing out “bad” dough they were ready to hand out samples at local grocery stores and gas stations thinking that their homemade cookie business would simply be a side hustle. However, as they kept mixing dough, improving and perfecting their recipe, handing out samples and listening to feedback from the cookie taste testers, they soon decided they were ready to open a little store even though many of their friends and families were not positive that delving into the cookie business would be a wise venture.
The Logan store became a booming operation from the get-go. Additionally, they sold Sawyer’s family sugar cookie recipe, one developed and perfected over the years by his grandma and mom. They soon began creating more cookie recipes and rotating the cookie offerings weekly, but the Chocolate Chip and Chilled Sugar cookies remained constant in the rotation. And it wasn’t long before the next step was the broadening of the brand with franchises in several locations in Utah and beyond. 

Coming to Town
Spencer Hanks, the San Clemente franchise owner of Crumbl Cookies, was roommates with the co-founder Hemsley. Hanks was “hands on” early on, participating in mixing a lot of cookie dough and helping to develop the best tasting cookies. He opened the fourth Crumbl Cookies franchise in Cottonwood Heights, Utah one week after he graduated from Utah State with a degree in finance in 2017. His franchise was the fourth Crumbl Cookies store to open. Spencer and his dad, Stan Hanks also opened and now own five franchises in Salt Lake City.
Spencer moved to San Clemente ten months ago to open the franchise in the Estrella Plaza Shopping Center located in the corner spot next to See’s Candy, Kelly’s Donuts and Guicho’s Eatery. This Crumbl Cookies location was selected because there was an empty space in that strip. Hanks two San Clemente franchise business partners, Jeff Hendrickson and Jason Talley, hail from San Clemente. Hendrickson and Talley also liked the location because of the proximity of two of their favorite restaurants, Guicho’s Eatery and Los Golondrinas - nice and close for lunch and dinner takeout - a business friendly space for getting a new endeavor up and running. And after several delays and securing of permits, the business finally opened in March 2021. 

The Operation
The San Clemente operation was bustling the day I visited and interviewed Hanks. During their busiest hours, Hanks said 12-14 people are immersed in the state-of-the-art kitchen tending to the mixing, baking and decorating. During slower hours there will still be six to eight employees busy baking, decorating and selling the cookies. Although the business model is a baked from scratch, homemade style cookie, the operation uses very expensive high-tech ovens and mixers that still offer a home-baked quality. Hanks mentioned the process is more labor intensive than most people realize. Not only the mixing of the dough and the high-tech ovens being carefully watched, but also the time involved filling and frosting the weekly specialty cookies. Not to mention, serving warm cookies to customers. 

This location is being used as a Crumbl Cookies training site for the soon to open Lake Forest Crumbl Cookies. Hanks will be opening 13 franchises from Lake Forest to San Diego in the next few months. 

Hemsley and McGowan have remained in Utah at the corporate headquarters in Orem. However, Hanks prefers being more involved with the daily operations of the franchises-overseeing the mixing and baking and maintaining quality control as new employees are trained. The stores are known for their modern pink and white aesthetically pleasing décor and open kitchen concept where customers can watch the process from mixing to baking to packing the cookies in the Crumbl Pink boxes-an exclusive color designed for the brand.

Business is Booming
Business boomed for the four-year-old cookie business during the pandemic as the company offered delivery and curbside pickup of their freshly baked, warm cookies. People working remotely craved comfort food and treats. The biggest problem was finding enough employees to hire during the lockdown.

Over the last four years the company has developed 150 different cookie flavors-Chocolate Chip and the Chilled Sugar cookie are always available with four other cookies offered each week. New cookie flavors are announced every Sunday night on Instagram, Facebook and the company’s website. Hank’s favorite, the Dirt Cake Cookie is made with a warm Oreo cookie rolled in Oreo cookie crumbs topped with chocolate frosting, chocolate streusel, more Oreo crumbs and finished off with a gummy worm. Some other favorites featured at the stores are Chocolate Chip Brownie Sundae, Snickerdoodle Cupcake and Lemon Glaze. Hanks sent me home with four different cookies of my choosing, of course, the signature offering, Chocolate Chip, Birthday Cake, Chocolate with Nutella filling and a refreshing Coconut, Lime Cookie garnished with a lime slice on top. All delicious! I was compelled to share my stash with a couple of friends- too much cookie sweetness tempting me from the pretty pink box. And remember … if you are craving a certain cookie flavor for a catered event or party contact the store a few days in advance.
Utah native Hanks has always been involved in sports. Now, living here next to the Pacific Ocean, he has embraced the quintessential SoCal sport of surfing. He said when he’s not mixing dough, he’s outside biking, running or catching waves in the ocean.

410 Camino Estrella, San Clemente, (949)234-7797, hrs Mon-Thur 8am-10pm. Fri-Saturday 8 am-midnight, website, for more details and online ordering.