Eleni’s Cookies started with some home baking and has become a thriving local business
The shop’s selection illustrates the thought that is behind each creation. Behind these innovative and delectable ideas is Gianopulos, who opened her store in Chelsea Market in 1997. Her bakery was one of the original businesses at that location, which has since become one of the most popular culinary meccas in Manhattan. She knew it was the perfect place for her new venture after her husband read a New York Times’ article explaining that the market was focusing on women bakers. “It felt ideal for us,” she said. Now, the brand has grown to include a corporate office in Long Island City with 50 employees, and 10 cookie experts in the store itself. You can also find her baked goods in Whole Foods, Fairway, Zabars, and Dean & Deluca.
Before Gianopulos’ foray into baking, she had another creative career, working in publishing. As a side business, the “Baker-in-Chief,” as she calls herself, started making oatmeal-raisin cookies in her apartment, duplicating her mother’s recipe. “I absolutely love our cookie that we started the company with,” she gushed, when asked which of her many items is her favorite. Coming in a close second is the “Cupcake of the Week,” because it constantly changes. “We offer different cupcakes all the time, and that makes it fun,” she said.
When asked about the most memorable request the store has ever received, Gianopulos was quick to respond. “Elton John’s gingerbread house is way up there,” she said. “That was huge for us.” Her list of celebrity clients also includes Katie Holmes and Michael J. Fox.
In keeping with the Hollywood theme, “The Cookie Oscar” project must be mentioned. Each award season, the Eleni’s team works diligently to hand-ice all the nominees’ faces on sugar cookies. “We been doing it for 10 years. It’s my favorite thing,” Gianopulos said. A big moment came when Julianne Moore walked in and found her face replicated on a cookie.
With her growing business, Gianopulos is no longer baking at the store. Instead, she works on the design of the products. “I love the design process at work. For me, that’s the most fun part of the job,” she said. However, the cookie guru still makes time to bake with her two young children at their Upper East Side home. “I bake with my kids all the time, just like any other mom would,” she said.
It was through having children that she realized the need to provide a nut-free environment at her stores. “It’s a huge issue,” she said. The company has also begun to include gluten-free products, such as brownies. “We will be expanding the line,” she promised.
When asked about the next chapter for her cookie empire, Gianopulos answered, “We’re looking for a greater national expansion with the Crisp line. And in the Color Me line, which are the cookies you can color, taking that national as well.” The future of Eleni’s is like its cookie dough, all rolled out and ready to be made into something enjoyable.
Visit www.elenis.com for more information.
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