Weeks before the official statewide shutdown, PDX Cookie Co opened their Montavilla store at 7919 SE Stark Street. Just as the shop became popular, people were ordered to stay home. Despite that challenge, the Cookie shop has seen success. With an established online business, they have managed to thrive during the pandemic. Now, as people are venturing out again, they are expanding store hours.
The opening day of the confectionery saw lines wrapping around the block. PDX Cookie Co was the first of what was to be many new eateries coming to Montavilla town in early 2020. Instead, COVID-19 changed plans all over Portland, and nearly overnight customers disappeared. The owner of PDX Cookie Co, Nisha Chitale, described the two extremes as jarring. “We had an awesome opening weekend followed by months of a ghost town.” Chitale considers PDX Cookie Co fortunate to have opened before the virus ramped up. Otherwise, they may have had to postpone the opening indefinitely, as many others were forced to do.
PDX Cookie Co was launching their first storefront, but they were already a successful online business. “Luckily, we started online, and it has always been our primary business,” explained Chitale. Even as walk-in customers diminished, PDX Cookie Co kept their storefront open throughout the closure, from 10 AM to 4 PM Friday-Sunday. The doors were open, but most people stayed home. Stuck at home, customers needed the comfort of cookies more than before and continued to buy. New local interest, driven by the successful opening, only added to online orders. Chitale was caught off guard by continued customer support online. “[I was] shocked and beyond grateful to have had our business boom during the quarantine.”
The growth in business was a relief for PDX Cookie Co employees as well. “Our employees are all close friends who continued to work during the quarantine. They were laid off from their other jobs, so this was able to keep food on their table,” explained Chitale. At the store, they enacted measures to protect staff and customers. Screening people for symptoms before coming in and social distancing in the building. “For extra precaution we also temporarily discontinued our edible cookie dough cones so there was less chance of any contamination.”
As the restrictions have gradually lifted in Multnomah County, PDX Cookie Co extended store hours for the summer. They are now open Friday through Wednesday from 10 AM to 4 PM. Edible cookie dough cones have now returned to the menu, joining cookie ice cream Sundaes. Indoor seating continues to be closed, but drop-in customers are welcome.
Online orders continue to outpace walk-in customers, but Nisha Chitale enjoys having the storefront. “My favorite things about having the brick and mortar location is being able to make goodies that don’t have to ship and getting to meet all of the Montavilla residents. Both business owners and nearby families are some of the kindest and most welcoming people I’ve ever met.”
The storefront is a unique benefit from Montavilla residents. Online inventory of new items can be exhausted within 5-10 minutes of being released. Chitale sees many customers excited to find menu items available at the storefront that sold out online. Chitale commented that the retail location has a better selection compared to the online store.
With demand as high as it has been, they may have outgrown this location. Chitale is still evaluating future moves. Ideally, PDX Cookie Co would expand in this location or move production and online order fulfillment to a commercial kitchen. Regardless of how they manage expansion, Chitale hopes to remain in this neighborhood that has treated this business so well.
Product image from PDX Cookie Co’s Instagram