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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Former Niche Food Group Pastry Chef Launching Nationwide Cookie Delivery Brand

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2020 at 6:35 AM

Matthew Rice has formally launched Pink Door Cookies, a Nashville storefront and nationwide cookie delivery brand. - ERIC FRAZIER
  • Eric Frazier
  • Matthew Rice has formally launched Pink Door Cookies, a Nashville storefront and nationwide cookie delivery brand.

Matthew Rice knows it might seem crazy to open a cookie business in the middle of a global pandemic, but he's not letting that stop him — in fact, he thinks spreading sweet, delicious joy is more important now than ever.

"Life still happens," Rice says in the introduction to the Kickstarter campaign for the venture. "We all still have birthdays. Anniversaries are still worthy of acknowledging. Even if we aren't having big celebrations right now, we will again, but for now, a cookie here and there can make even the worst days a little bit, well, sweeter."



Rice, who served as executive pastry chef for Gerard Craft's Niche Food Group until leaving to help the celebrated chef open Pastaria Nashville in 2017, has been spending a lot of time trying to figure out ways to bring joy during the COVID-19 outbreak. After being furloughed in March, he was forced to reevaluate his role in the industry — and was not bullish about it.

"As pastry chefs, we are always the first on the chopping blocks when it's like, 'What can we get rid of?'" Rice explains.

However, he didn't let his prospects get him down. Right away, he began baking and taking pictures of his wares, using Instagram to spread the word that he was open for business. He started with chocolate chip cookies, and then eventually began to include other varieties, selling boxes from the park bench right outside his unmistakably colored door.

"My front door is pink, so I'd tell people to drive up and look for the pink door," Rice says. "I love those two words together. The pink door is my landmark."

The success he enjoyed with his simple grab-and-go cookie service gave him the push he needed to pursue opening his own business, something he had been contemplating for a long time. He knew he didn't want to do a full restaurant, and he was not into the idea of having a full-fledged bakery. Cookies made him happy, and they made others happy too. It just clicked.

"One time a while ago, I told a friend that if I could just bake cookies for the rest of my life, I'd be happy," Rice says. "That really stuck with me, and when I was torn about what I should do next, I thought back on that."

Now, Rice is realizing that dream. Last week, he launched a Kickstarter campaign for his brand, Pink Door Cookies, in the hopes that he can raise enough capital to get him started with both a brick-and-mortar bakery and a nationwide cookie delivery service. The Pink Door Cookies storefront will be located in Nashville, his adopted hometown, but he is emphatic that he's tested his cookie delivery logistics and is happy with the results. This means that, as soon as Pink Door Cookies launches, his fans in St. Louis will be able to get their hands on some of his delicious baked goods without traveling to Nashville. This is important to Rice, who describes St. Louis as his restaurant hometown.

The Pink Door Cookies Kickstarter campaign runs through September 2; as of press time, Rice is less than $2,000 away from reaching his goal of $15,000. Rewards to donors include everything from a Mystery Grab Bag at the $5 level to a six-month cookie membership to those who donate $250 or more.

"I realized that when my furlough was permanent and there was nowhere I could work right now, I should figure out how to do this," Rice says. "If not now, when? Even though it's a bad time, people who are innovating are successful. If anything positive can come out of this, it's that."

We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at cheryl.baehr@riverfronttimes.com.
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