In a recent Friday afternoon, a customer — male, well-dressed, mid-20s — picked up some cookies at The Whimsy Cookie Company. Nothing out of the ordinary there. But as the woman behind the counter started to close out the order, the man grew nearly frantic.
"I need a cookie on the side so I can eat it myself!" he blurted.
Moments later, a middle-aged woman walked into the store to modify her order for an upcoming party. Those familiar with Whimsy convinced her they'd need six dozen cookies instead of the three dozen she had ordered.
These are strong endorsements for the small custom-order business Laurie Suriff started years ago with her mom's sugar cookie recipe.
Collins Tuohy joined the company about two years ago, investing as co-owner and director of sales and marketing.
With Suriff keeping an eye on the scaled-up production, making sure the cookies still taste like they came from her mom's oven and look adorable enough to melt the toughest of party planners, and Tuohy acting as the hard-driving businesswoman, orders have soared.
Whimsy recently moved from Germantown to a new, very pink building on Poplar in East Memphis to accommodate a larger production facility and a blossoming retail business.
Whimsy offers an endless selection of cookie designs — school logos, musical instruments, baby buggies, mermaids, and on and on. Cookies start at $3 a piece.
The pair also does custom designs. One woman recently walked in and said she was throwing a 50th birthday party for her husband with a James Bond theme. So they quickly designed some 007-themed cookies.
They credit their commitment to taste for the national attention they've received. They've supplied treats for red carpet events in Los Angeles, a fashion show in New York, and the Super Bowl. They filled a custom order for Reese Witherspoon on the set of the yet-to-be-released The Good Lie and replicated Tim McGraw's faith-inscribed heart tattoo for the country singer. (Tuohy's family is depicted in The Blind Side. McGraw played Tuohy's father in the film version of the book.)
The pair is turning their office into a "photo with the Easter bunny" setup in April, and the adjacent room will host parties for children or decorating classes for adults. Eventually they hope to franchise.
While they do get excited about celebrity clients, small local orders can be rewarding too, as Tuohy illustrates with cell phone pictures.
"Watching a 2-year-old who can't get two feet from the register before he slams one down and it's all over his face," Tuohy says, referencing the photo of a young boy, "You stand there and go, 'We sell a great product.'
"All the way from how our girls are sweet and treat you to our fun cookies to the color of our building, it's all supposed to be very magical. You should feel like you're in Disney World at Whimsy Cookie Company."
4707 Poplar (343-0709)
If you're going to buy a pie, cake, or bread pudding, reasons Dan Weaver, owner of Weaver's Slice Of Heaven, it should taste as delicious as possible.
"We want to use 40 percent fat in our heavy whipping cream. We want to use real butter. That's how we get our taste. All of the icing that you see is butter. Butter. All of these. BUH-TER," Weaver says, waving his hand across the displays.
The volume of options is surprising for a bakery that consists of Weaver and a single employee. All of them originate in Weaver's "recipe bible," which he keeps in the back of the bakery. Weaver's offers a daily bread that rotates with each day of the week, more than one dozen varieties of cheesecake, baked pies, cream pies, muffins, all sorts of puddings, brownies, bars, and more.
Everything comes by the slice or whole.
The bread pudding (offered in several varieties) is the best-selling item, followed closely by the turtle fudge brownies. On one recent day, Weaver touted the Snickers cheesecake featuring homemade caramel, homemade ganache, peanuts, and Snickers candy bars ($29.99 for a 10-inch cake).
"I've baked since I was a pre-teen. My mom used to call me 'Dan, Dan the Baker Man.' So these recipes span over 25 years of baking," Weaver says. "We want everything at Weaver's Slice Of Heaven to be super delicious. That's how we get them hooked to come back and see us again."
4287 Summer (552-4232)