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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

New Captain Cookie Location Opens in Cleveland Park

Captain+Cookies+new+location+in+Cleveland+Park.+%28Oliver+Dashwood%2FInternational+Dateline%29
Captain Cookie’s new location in Cleveland Park. (Oliver Dashwood/International Dateline)

As WIS students returned to campus from summer break in 2023, many noticed a new shop in Cleveland Park, the location that had been left vacant since July 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, and the previous owners of Firehook Bakery had been unable to renew their lease.

Now the location is home to the fifth D.C. area location of Captain Cookie & the Milkman, a local chain that specializes in homemade cookies, ice cream sandwiches and milkshakes.

In 2012, Husband and wife team Kirk and Juliann Francis opened a food truck in Washington D.C. and eventually expanded from one single truck to five brick-and-mortar stores.

The idea for the business started through Kirk Francis’ obsession with cookies and his desire to share his passion with others.

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“People were really into that concept [of sharing the joy of cookies], and over the years we’ve been able to grow because people enjoy that,” Juliann Francis said.

Francis explained it is her ingredients that differentiate her company’s products from cheaper competitors in a highly saturated market.

She noted that the sourcing of the ingredients is something that other companies often overlook in the quest for being cost-competitive.

“We partner with local creameries to do very high-quality ice cream,” Francis said. “It’s not a grocery store ice cream product. It’s a novelty dessert.”

Francis noted Captain Cookie’s efforts to be more sustainable than other competitors.
“We like to highlight our attempts at sustainability as a company,” Francis said. “Even as a small business, there are things we can do, we’re not shipping dairy across the U.S., for example, like some of our competitors”.

The biggest differentiating factor between Captain Cookie and the rest of the local dessert market, however, is the experience that customers receive from the moment they enter the door, according to Francis.

“I think a big part of what we do differently also has to do with the experience that we give our guests when they come to see us,” she said. “You’re getting a made-to-order ice cream sandwich [and] the cookies…are being made fresh every day. You can see us baking cookies and pulling them out of the oven right as you’re ordering in line, and I think that’s the reason that people choose us over others”

Captain Cookie’s selection of freshly baked cookies. (Oliver Dashwood/International Dateline)

 

At the heart of the company’s mission is being part of and developing a cohesive local community. One way that the Cleveland Park location does this is by supporting regional efforts to end hunger.

“In the food industry, what becomes very apparent [is] there are a lot of people that are in need in terms of food insecurity and hunger in general,” Francis said. “[It is a] completely solvable problem. We don’t actually have a real shortage of food in this area, there’s an abundance. It’s about community building, to making the connections, to helping that distribution problem be solved.”

Captain Cookie partners with specific organizations in the D.C. area that focus on alleviating food insecurity.

“There are a lot of organizations that do amazing work that we like to partner with and support, DC Central Kitchen being the main one,” she said. “they’re doing really important work to make those connections.”

Francis attributed Captain Cookie’s decision to open its new store in Cleveland Park to customer demand and food truck operations in the area.

“Now we have five stores in the D.C. area, but as we were expanding, we were looking at moving a little bit further Northwest,” she said. “[It] was kind of an area that we kept getting requests from people.”

Opening a store in Northwest D.C. has been in the works for a long time at Captain Cookie.

“We actually had hoped, originally, to open a store in 2020, so opening now is getting us back to answering that demand that we were hearing from our customer base, of wanting a Captain Cookie location, a physical store, that was farther into Northwest D.C.,” she said.

Francis has mixed feelings about current construction projects on Connecticut Avenue.

“There’s so much construction happening…and the Connecticut Avenue corridor is looking like [it’s] going to change a lot,” she said. “So we feel that it’s an opportunity..to plug in and be part of a community connection.”

However, she noted that construction has affected the business significantly.

“The construction is pretty disruptive to business, you can definitely see that in the numbers, in terms of sales during the weekdays, when they’re doing construction,” she said.

Captain Cookie has managed to open several physical locations in a relatively short period and still hopes to expand.

“In terms of expansion in the future, Captain Cookie is a growing business, so we’re always looking for opportunities…” Francis said. “Right now we’re doing a lot of expansion on our catering business, so we have expanded our ability to do indoor parties… that’s one thing we’re focusing more on than physical locations.”

The expansion of a small business can be difficult in D.C. because of the local government, according to Francis. “The D.C. business environment is not the easiest to expand in, so it does take some time when we want to do an expansion to navigate that environment,” she said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Captain Cookie’s original food truck allowed people to come out of their homes and socialize over ice cream with their neighbors while keeping a safe distance from each other, something Francis attributes to Captain Cookie’s core value of community building.

“Post-COVID, something that we’ve identified is to be a meeting place for people and to be a place where neighbors connect,” Francis said. “[It] is even more important than it was before COVID, because people went through a period of real disconnection…It’s good to be connected to other people, especially neighbors, so that’s really our goal: to be part of that healthy community ecosystem.”

Visit Captain Cookie at the locations listed below, or visit its website: https://captaincookiedc.com/

Foggy Bottom-GWU – The Original: 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006

Cleveland Park: 3411 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

Arlington: 2200 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

Brookland: 2800 10th St NE, Washington, DC 20017

Capitol Hill: 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003

By Oliver Dashwood

 

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Oliver Dashwood, Global/D.C. News Editor

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