Dallas, Texas – A caakie brings together the best of what makes a cookie and what makes a cake. And through a new startup, a group of four founders is looking to serve up these treats while bringing people together to create a better community.
Launched in June with plans of hitting peoples’ palettes in December, Caakie.Co is cooking up its cookie cake combo, setting up its first shop in Dallas with the goal of turning the venture into a way to help other entrepreneurs through franchising.
“A caakie is basically the best of both worlds. It’s a dessert that showcases the union between cake and cookie,” Chrystal Lewis, Caakie captain, told NTX Inno. “It’s something th at we really haven’t seen before… we wanted to create something that was different. We wanted to re-make a dessert the way that we eat it, how we eat it, the flavors we taste, and we wanted to put together a lot of our favorites into one dessert.”
The idea for Caakie came about as the pandemic first started hitting Texas. Lewis and partners Amber Morton, Alex Dissinger and Jason Lewis were looking for a way to find inspiration and stay occupied during the crisis and amid some personal losses. Presumably with a strong sweet tooth, the team wanted to create something she hadn’t seen before. And out of the oven came Caakie.
“I actually was experimenting one day and it just so happened to work,” Morton, Caakie pastry chef, said.
Besides helping inspire the creation of Caakie, the pandemic has also brought some other unexpected benefits for the newly launched Dallas company. The work-from-home lifestyle has given the team more time to dedicate to the project. It has also allowed them to potentially open a brick and-mortar location, as leasing costs have declined. However, Chrystal Lewis said they are still finalizing where that store would be, wanting to find the right spot to place their dessert hub.
“It has helped because it brought four friends together to think about something creative to keep us thinking positively towards the future, the future of our families,” Chrystal Lewis said. “And we came up with this concept not just to inspire ourselves and empower ourselves, but to lead by example so that other minority families that come from a lower income background can see hope for their future and can attain something similar, and we’re helping to lay out a sort of blueprint to close the wealth gap. And that has been something that has been an inspiration for us during this time.”
The pandemic has also brought challenges for Caakie. A Small Business Administration loan that Chrystal Lewis said would normally have been processed right now is still working its way through approval. And while Caakie is in talks with potential investors, some are hesitant to invest in the industry at the moment.
The Dallas store might be one of the only physical spots to find a caakie, which comes in a variety of different flavors, as well as in a pet-friendly line of products. As a business, Caakie plans to operate as a “virtual bakery,” similar to the ghost kitchen model, using third party vendors to offer on-demand service up until 2 a.m.
While some businesses in the restaurant and food industry have complained that third-party delivery providers have caused more struggle during the pandemic by taking commission fees of up to 30 percent. However, Jason Lewis said the issue is not of much concern to Caakie since the company has already accounted for the costs in its business model. The company has also built in some incentives for drivers like exclusive pricing, free items and communication avenues to help incentivize drivers to provide the best customer service possible.
“I think it’s important that we demonstrate the way you should love your neighbor, regardless of how they think or look, and right now, especially when the world is telling us to be divided,” Chrystal Lewis said. “And this is one of the things that keeps us going and keeps us planning for Caakie because we are trying with everything we can to bring folks together through this venture.”
Looking out for others is also part of Caakie’s business model. The team said the company’s mission and values are grounded in their Christian faith, which she said calls them to show love to everyone and help bring people together – something the Caakie team says is represented in the merger of desserts that creates a caakie. Shortly after launching in North Texas in December, Caakie plans to begin franchising out other locations to those who go through their apprenticeship program, as a way to provide a path to entrepreneurship for those from underserved communities.
“Coming form the background that we come from, it’s become apparent that not everyone has the same opportunities across the board. We want to even the playing field, if you will. What we wanted to do was create a company that would really focus on apprenticeship and allow people to earn their way into building something of their own, so we decided to become pioneers in that case,” said Dissinger, Caakie’s head of business development and Caakie champion. “When we came up with this, I saw that as a brilliant gateway for people who have come from these humble beginnings to pioneer and pave the way so that they can come… join us and to grow a business of their own.”
The company is also looking for local nonprofits to donate a portion of its revenue to after launching.
As the company expands, it is looking to focus on the DFW area, before looking at expanding to Austin and Houston. However, the Caakie team hopes one day the name and the dessert will be a household name nationwide.
“We know that while the caakie is extremely delicious, we really hope that we’re known for more than just that,” Dissinger said.