FOOD & WINE
Inside a 1,000-square-foot kitchen in Miami, Andrew Gonzalez’s Night Owl Cookies preps and bakes more than 15,000 cookies every week. In 2018, the store surpassed its goal of producing more than one million cookies and became Postmates’ most ordered restaurant in Florida and its second most popular dessert in the country.
It’s quite a feat for Gonzalez, who started the business less than five years ago inside his mother’s small kitchen. At first, it was just him and his 66-year-old Cuban grandmother, who quit her job cleaning houses to help her grandson bake cookies.
Since, Night Owl has blown up, earning more than $1.5 million in annual sales by selling a unique line of cookies beyond the traditional chocolate chip and rainbow sprinkle. There’s the Cuban-inspired Ave Maria, where guava dough is mixed with Maria Cookies and white chocolate chips with a cream cheese drizzle; the Birthday Cake, a white and milk chocolate blend with sprinkles and frosting; and the Dirty Diana, which is stuffed with Nutella.
“In the beginning, everyone thought I was out of my mind,” he says. “I had just dropped out of college and was spending almost all my time baking. I knew I could do this, but I never expected to for this level of success to come so fast.”
This year, Gonzalez, who was previously named a 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30, will take Night Owl Cookies nationwide by popping up in various cities through an exclusive partnership with Postmates. He’ll also launch online shipping March 1, delivering cookies across the U.S. with hopes of taking the operation international in the next few years.
“We’re pushing more than 1,000 orders with Postmates every week,” he says. “It’s unbelievable how I went from driving around Miami all night to hand-deliver cookies, and now I’m about to ship them to places like New York and LA.”
Sometime in March, Night Owl’s first Postmates pop-up will debut in the Orlando, Florida area. The store will set up a satellite production facility inside a commissary kitchen and will offer delivery within a 10-mile radius. Though an exact launch date has not been announced, the pop-is expected to last for a month and Postmates users can expect to see Night Owl appear on the app once the cookies become available. In addition to Orlando, Gonzalez is eyeing Boston and LA as potential next stops later this year.
As for Night Owl’s nationwide shipping, ordering will go live March 1 with many of the brand’s signature cookies, including the Chocolate S’mores topped with gooey marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs, and chocolate chunks, and the Suga Daddy sugar cookie. The limited-edition Plantain Papi cookie, made with plantain-infused cookie dough, Nutella, and a slice of sweet fried plantain, will make a comeback as a year-round, delivery-only flavor as well.No matter the flavor, the cookies, which are about the size of a standard doughnut, are made by a small staff of less than a dozen dedicated bakers, many of whom report to work at 5 a.m., even though the shop technically closes at 2 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. on weekends.
“Cookies will ship in about two or three days,” Gonzalez says. “They’ll be wrapped separately and will be fit to last weeks, if they’re stored correctly. We’ve done a ton of trials to make sure we nail down how long they can last and still taste as great as they would have on day one.”
In addition, Gonzalez will debut a second Night Owl Cookies store in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood this summer, which is poised to become the nation’s largest cookie shop. Once open, all cookies will be baked here before being shipped out.
“It’s basically going to be our new HQ,” he says. “It’ll be over 3,000 square feet. I reached out to Guinness World Records a few months ago, and I’m waiting on the certificate. To even say that is crazy. I started in my parent’s kitchen and now I’m here.”
Courtesy of Food & Wine.