QSR January 2023


CookiePlug An offbeat brand is ready to turn a red-hot category on its head. B Y B E N C O L E Y

The growth targets are massive. Cookie Plug, with 23 corporate stores and two fran chises open as of early November, wants to have at least 300 locations by the end of 2026 and at least 1,000 units under develop ment. Currently, there’s roughly 130 stores in the pipeline. “I think we’re well on our way to that, but obviously you have to build the infra structure and make sure you have the right personnel and teams in place in order to do it,” Wyland says. “That’s what we’re busy doing.” Martinez’s Cookie Plug journey origi nated from operating the Cakewalk Cake and Candy Supplies, a cake decorating concept. The business’ success led him to London, where he found international chain Ben’s Cookies. The visit inspired Marti nez to launch a cookie brand of his own in the U.S., infused with the culture he grew up in—West Coast 90s hip hop. The f irst Cookie Plug opened in May 2019 inside one of Martinez’s cake stores. It was only 60 square feet with a counter and enough room for one person to walk inside. The unit opened the day before Mother’s Day and only earned about $150. On Mother’s Day, even fewer cookies were sold. He kept at it, but in the following months, the high est days were just $600–$700. But then in his hometown of Redlands, California, he came across a 700-square foot spot that he was able to grab for $1,300 per month in rent. Martinez started posting about the second location, and Cookie Plug caught f ire overnight. He added another store before COVID hit in March 2020, and instead of reeling back, he doubled down. Twenty units opened between 2020 and 2021. “I mean honestly, all the other brands are boring,” Martinez says. “I mean when you walk into Mrs. Fields, they got a red wall with white writing. You CONTINUED ON PAGE 46

after having visited Roll-Em-Up several times. He kept up with the press releases and growth targets, and was interested in Wyland doing the same for his emerging dessert company. WhenWyland did his due diligence, he discovered a brand that com bines urban culture with a variety of cookie f lavors. Graffiti covers the walls and hip-hop music plays over speakers—even unedited versions. More than a dozen cookies on the menu invoke the same ethos, like the Snoo perdoodle, Mac Daddy, and Nutty O.G. Wyland visited a few locations and fell in love with the vibe. He helped Martinez initiate the process of creating an FDD and began working on everything required for a suc cessful launch, like infrastructure, training, and real estate. The program was officially announced earlier this year.

FOUNDERS: Erik Martinez HEADQUARTERS: Riverside, California

YEAR STARTED: 2019 ANNUAL SALES: N/A TOTAL UNITS: 25 FRANCHISED UNITS: Two open/125 signed under development agreements

CHRIS WYLAND WAS IN THE MIDST OF GROWING the franchise base of Roll-Em-Up Taqui tos—a chain that signed development deals for 420 stores in six months—when he first learned of fellow Southern California-based brand, Cookie Plug. Erik Martinez, the company’s founder, connected withyWyland through Instagram



JANUARY 2023 | QSR | www.qsrmagazine.com

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