Red Eye Cookie Company opened last week on VCU’s campus, fulfilling the dreams of starving students and foodies across Richmond.
Brayden Pleasants, a 2013 VCU graduate, and Colin Wright, a graduate of James Madison University, opened the nighttime cookie delivery service Wednesday, March 19, selling out of dough within the first five hours. Since the first night, the owners have added more staff and doubled the amount of dough to meet the demands of local customers.
Pleasants said he knew there was community enthusiasm surrounding the company’s opening, but the amount of orders took him by surprise.
“It’s been crazy,” Pleasants said. “We may have underestimated just how much excitement there was around the idea.”
Growing up in Hanover County, Va., Pleasants said he and Wright shared an interest in cooking. They became friends at a young age but separated after high school. Pleasants studied business at VCU, and said he wanted to work toward something he could take ownership in once he graduated.
After college, Pleasants and Wright found themselves in Richmond at the same time. Pleasants said they decided to work together and find a way to provide a product that was not available in the city.
“As a night owl myself with a little bit of a sweet tooth, (Wright and I) focused on desserts and baked goods,” Pleasants said. “We found there was a lack of gourmet baked goods in the city, as far as ‘the’ cookie place to go to, especially in the late-night time frame.”
Pleasants said they began experimenting with family cookie recipes with the goal of creating their own versions of classic cookies. They practiced baking fairly large cookies, around 3.5 inches in diameter with a tangible thickness, Pleasants said. Eventually, the team found a product that satisfied them both.
“We just worked until we got where we wanted on each of the flavors, and we’re really happy where all of them ended up,” Pleasants said.
The company offers seven flavors: chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, honey crunchy peanut butter, chocolate Andes mint chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, white chocolate macadamia nut and gluten-free chocolate chip.
Pleasants said a bacon-bourbon chocolate chip cookie is set to be released in the near future, along with their signature Red Eye cookie. They also are working on vegan recipes after receiving many requests online.
Pleasants said they try to deliver to most of the Richmond area, including Church Hill and parts of the Manchester district.
“We’re getting cries all the time that we’re not delivering far enough, so we may have plans to include some extended delivery areas in the near future,” Pleasants said.
The company also offers milk from Homestead Creamery, Silk Soymilk and Lamplighter coffee to accompany orders. Their storefront is located behind Sally Bell’s kitchen on West Grace Street. Pleasants said he encourages people to go straight to them and try a cookie.
“We operate out of the rear door, and we like the speakeasy vibe of it,” Pleasants said. “Just look for the red door, there’s usually people hanging out back waiting on cookies.”
Even though business has gotten off to a busy start, Pleasants said he and Wright do not want the attention to distract them from their mission to serve a quality product to the Richmond area.
“Our purpose is to get high-quality, gourmet, fresh-baked cookies out the door to people from the evening to after midnight,” Pleasants said. “We want to make sure we do this the right way and grow the business organically from the ground-up.”
Red Eye Cookie Company is located at 708 W. Grace St. It is open Sunday through Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Orders can be made online at redeyecookieco.com.
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