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Inspiring Conversations with Daniel and Sara Bernard of Baked Cookies & Dough

Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniel and Sara Bernard.

Hi Daniel and Sara, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Dan and I are high school sweethearts, born and raised in Florida. We moved to North Carolina when I (Sara) was accepted at Duke for graduate school. We fell in love with NC right away and decided to make it our home. After college, we both set off on career paths but Dan has always been an entrepreneur at heart. When a friend of his started a restaurant delivery service back in our hometown, Dan decided the same business would do well up here. He left his job to get started and I was in the middle of my first years of teaching at Wake Tech, but I offered to “help” him with the new business.

In 2009, we started Mobile Waiters, later re-named 919Dine. We staffed a small fleet of drivers to deliver restaurant orders to customers in Cary, Apex, Morrisville, parts of Raleigh, and Holly Springs. We started before some of the new national delivery services existed (UberEats, Postmates, and DoorDash), or offered delivery themselves (GrubHub). Our customer base and roster of restaurants grew along with our driving and office staff.

The service took off and was successful. I stopped teaching because Dan needed more than “help” from me, and I became a business owner/operator alongside him. We spent 10 years running our delivery service.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
When the national delivery services started taking over the restaurant delivery world we worried about the effect on our local service. Our restaurant partners assured us they wanted to continue using 919Dine as their primary delivery service because we were local and easy to work with. However, eventually “restaurant delivery” became synonymous with UberEats, GrubHub, and DoorDash. Our business volume dropped significantly and restaurants started signing exclusivity contracts with the national delivery companies.

Since the day we opened, we were the only delivery service that delivered for Chili’s Bar & Grill. No matter what service started up in this area, Brinker remained loyal to our little business (and many other privately owned delivery services around the country). When we received the notice from Brinker that they would no longer allow us to offer their menu to our customers, and partnered exclusively with DoorDash, it was a gut punch.

Ultimately, we had to concede that trying to compete against capital-backed tech companies with multi-million dollar advertising budgets, technological advantages, and “market share” by that point, was not a smart use of our resources. By the grace of God, the owner of another locally owned restaurant delivery company, who started before us and had been expanding his markets through the years, wanted to buy 919Dine. We were able to sell the business to him, knowing he had the best strategy to succeed. With the sale of our business, we were able to move forward into the next chapter of our lives.

Dan knows me as a person who loves to bake, cookies especially. I bake hundreds of cookies every Christmas to send to family and friends and make almost every birthday dessert for my family. By the time our 10 years of running 919Dine had come to an end, we were parents to a 5-year-old and well acquainted with all the treat shops in our area. We sold 919Dine at the end of 2019. While looking for a new business opportunity, Dan ran across a company called Baked Cookies & Dough, a treat shop specializing in edible cookie dough and baked cookies.

The owner was looking to franchise and we thought the opportunity looked like so much fun. Families can go out to get ice cream at several places around town, but can they buy a scoop of edible cookie dough? We saw a niche that wasn’t filled, an opportunity to put smiles on a lot of faces and have fun growing another business.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We are a dessert shop specializing in gourmet edible cookie dough, baked cookies, and soft-serve ice cream. So many customers come into our store thinking the cookie dough is ice cream (it IS in a gelato case!), and are unsure of the concept of eating cookie dough by the scoop. We’re all warned as children not to eat raw cookie dough, and we assume it’s because of the eggs, but the raw flour poses a threat too. We assure everyone that our doughs are egg-free and made with heat-treated flour.

They’re kept cold in the case because they contain butter and other dairy products. We offer samples of all the flavors, and once a person tries a sample they’re hooked. The advantage to eating a scoop of cookie dough is the ability to put the leftovers in the fridge when you can’t eat another bite. The dough will last in the refrigerator for two weeks with no loss of quality. You can save the dough in the freezer for two months!

Another treat we offer that sets us apart is soft-serve ice cream. Customers frequently comment that soft serve isn’t easy to find around town, and ours is particularly good. We use vanilla and chocolate ice cream mixes with 10% butterfat, so it qualifies as “ice cream” and has the most creamy delicious flavor. We sell cones and cups of ice cream but we also turn our soft serve into milkshakes and cookie ice cream sandwiches. We’ve recently introduced an 8″ cake featuring layers of chocolate chip cookie bar, soft-serve ice cream, and cookie dough.

We also offer baked cookies that we serve warm to every customer. Two warm cookies and soft-serve ice cream make our “Bakedwiches.” Our “Unbakedwich” is a cookie sandwich with scoops of cookie dough in between. Our menu is pretty big, but three simple ingredients (cookies, dough, and ice cream) create a lot of dessert fun! Lots of reasons to keep visiting us.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
While Baked Cary is a franchise location it is also currently the only operating Baked in the country. As the brand tries to grow during this chaotic time in our world we are proud to be a foundation. The design of our shop was left almost entirely up to Dan and I and is twice the size of the original location in West Chester, PA.

We had a lot of fun designing the space with our architects (KC Studio Architecture) and were lucky enough to have a franchisor who was game to let us take his vibe and run with it. There are more ideas floating around in our heads!

We were finalizing that design in March 2020, when the pandemic caused the national quarantine. The space was built entirely during the quarantine, and we opened in September 2020 before the vaccines were made available, and the quarantine was ongoing.

Contact Info:

  • Email: hello@bakedcary.com
  • Website: www.bakedcary.com
  • Instagram: @bakedcary
  • Facebook: @bakedcary

Image Credits
RaleighFoodTrap and RaleighFoodCrush

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