Gimmee Jimmy’s Cookies is back, and its owners are confident they’ve hit on the recipe for a long shelf life.
Founded in 1983 by West Orange resident Jimmy Libman in his parents’ West Orange home, the company sold home-style cookies based on his mother’s recipe. Libman sold the company in the mid-2000s, and the new owners tried to go retail, opening cookie bars in Montclair and Livingston.
That idea didn’t last, nor did the new owners. Now partners Joseph Bartel of Teaneck and Jonathan Cohen of Sarasota, Fla., have a plan to revive the brand they acquired in 2009. They closed the Montclair shop shortly after taking over (the Livingston site was already closed by the time they took over) and are focusing on a bigger idea that will eventually bring back the retail shops.
First, they moved production from West Orange to Hawthorne, where the space is cheaper and they can produce baked goods ready for shipment to local outlets. Next, they are trying to close sales in the commercial arena, with businesses like cruise lines and large grocery stores.
“The profit margins are lower, but the business is more stable,” said Cohen.
Cohen said they hope to be ready as early as the end of 2011 to open retail outlets in upscale venues like the Mall at Short Hills, which offers plenty of foot traffic.
For now, retail customers can buy assortments and gift baskets on-line (www.gjcookies.com).
They are also expanding production beyond cookies, which come in, among other flavors, chocolate chip, peanut butter, double chocolate walnut, and cranberry pecan. They hired executive chef Ralf Oehler, who trained in Germany, to help produce a new line that includes red velvet cupcakes, gluten-free brownies, baklava, Linzer cookies, even Hungarian specialties. And they promise that Gimmee Jimmy’s will stick to the kinds of all-natural ingredients that made the cookies popular in the first place.
“The reason the cookies were so well received was the ingredients,” said Cohen. “Our red velvet brownies follow the example. They will use real cocoa, real vinegar, real pomegranate for coloring, and the best flour, butter, and cream cheese. As a result, what we deliver is the same concept Jimmy had: the same cookie Mom bakes at home. You can taste the difference.”
Bartel and Cohen not only have the original Gimmee Jimmy’s cookie recipes — they also have the original oven that Libman baked the cookies in.
Gimmee Jimmy’s products will continue to be certified kosher, as they always have been. Cohen, who was raised in a Conservative Jewish home, belongs to a Chabad community in Sarasota. Bartel is part of the Orthodox community in Teaneck.
And both partners are trying to retain the good will earned by the original company.
Libman, who is deaf, was noted for hiring employees who were also hearing-impaired. Cohen and Bartel want to ensure the company gives back to the community.
To that end, they are delivering cookies and milk to area hospitals and they recently donated cookies to Super Sunday, the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ fund-raiser that took place on the Aidekman campus in Whippany. The company has also begun inviting groups to use Gimmee Jimmy’s cookies to raise funds — they provide a code, and every purchase using that code sets aside a percentage for the designated charity.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about community,” said Cohen. “Yes, I’m in business to make money, but I’m doing that because people in the community are buying my cookies. There are also hungry people and sick people in those communities.”