Walking through the doors of Crumbl in Southern Shores is like taking a trip home to a time when cookies were baking in the oven and everyone was sitting around the table, waiting for that first taste of soft and warm, fresh-from-the-oven comfort.
Susan and Dave Bramwell opened the doors to their cookie emporium back in September 2019 and right away cookie aficionados were at their door.
“What’s really exciting here is the local following is amazing here,” Dave said.
“We didn’t know what to expect when we opened,” Susan said. “When they come in here for the first time, they’re kind of blown away. It looks good, it smells good and there are cookies. It’s perfect.”
The cookies are not like anything else out there or at least nothing like anything we have experienced. Lightly crisp on the outside with a soft center, no two cookies are exactly alike. They are, as the company says, perfectly imperfect.
Crumbl Cookies is the brainchild of two cousins from Utah, Jason McGowan and his cousin, Sawyer Hemsley. The first store opened in Logan, Utah in 2017, so it’s a pretty new company, but with 45 locations and counting the cousins got a lot right.
Mostly what they have right are the cookies and baking them fresh all day long.
Before they even opened the cousins sampled a lot of cookies. One of the cousins took the task on as a scientific search for the best possible cookie, according to Dave.
“Trying cookies from grocery stores, bakeries,…For months and months he did that until he got the perfect recipe,” he said.
There are two cookies that are always on hand. The chocolate chip cookie is this marvelous big (yes, the cookies are very big) warm confection with milk chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate. Perfect with a glass of milk.
The sugar cookie is the cousins’ grandmother’s recipe. It is very sweet, but then it is a sugar cookie.
The other four cookies rotate every week, so if there’s a particular favorite cookie that is sampled on Monday, you have until Sunday to get another. The company lets the public know what’s coming next every Sunday.
“If you really want to know, check Facebook or check Instagram Sunday morning,” Dave said.
Crumbl really is different than a traditional bakery. There is that very focused emphasis on doing one product and making sure that it is done right. Everything is made from scratch; nothing is coming in frozen from some corporate warehouse to be thawed and baked.
Mostly though, it is the recipes and every cookie is fresh and warm.
“The recipes are a secret, but it’s a fresh cookie basically. We bake them. Then we keep them warm. Keep them in the warmer and we sell through them fairly quickly. We try to adjust to what we’re going to sell,” Donna said.
For the Bramwells, Crumbl offered the ideal way to become more involved in the Outer Banks community. The couple had wandered from California to Hawaii, finally settling in Raleigh.
They had been visiting, but finally decided it was time to live where they wanted to live.
“We had a cottage here until about two years ago we decided we wanted to live in the cottage and be permanent residents of Kill Devil Hills,” Dave said.
Susan had been a stay at home mom, but with the kids grown and on their own, it seemed like the circumstances were right for something new.
“This is the next phase. It was time, time to do something else,” is how Susan describes it.
They learned about Crumbl from Dave’s sister who knew the owners and now owns a couple of franchises.
“I remember saying to Dave, ‘This is a great idea. It’s different than how cookies have been done,” Susan said.
For the couple, it was the perfect opportunity.
“We want to be a part of the community,” Dave said. “We’ve been coming here for many years as second home visitors. Now that we live here, we want to be part of it.”
“In the beginning, most of our customers were from social media marketing. But now when you hear about us, ‘Oh, somebody at the office or somebody told my kids. So it is word of mouth,” Susan said.
And if it is the children that make a community, then the Crumbl place is secure on the Outer Banks.
“The kids, when they come in, they’re bubbly,” Dave said.