Have you tried all the cones, the bakeries, and cakeries? To paraphrase the old Huey Lewis hit song, if you “Want a New Dessert,” then your prayers have been answered, as have those of Sumo Cookies proprietor Janice Paris, literally.
“I really prayed to know if this was the right business idea,” asserts Paris, a 24-year Flower Mound resident. “I was blown away with how blatant God is with answers. You have to follow your passions, dreams, and be willing to listen, to take a leap of faith. If I’d just listened to myself, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Sumo Cookies has been open in Robertson’s Creek Shopping Center at 2499 and Dixon, between the Agave restaurant and Hobby Lobby, since “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving. But Paris has virtually been in the Sumo Cookie business, online, since 2003. The business got a lot of valuable exposure on the Food Network, but Paris was looking to take the next leap.
Once inside the store, it quickly becomes evident that customers are passionate about her desserts. They don’t just come in and order an item; take it and leave, but talk to her and her staff about the different varieties they’ve tried, the assortment of sizes that are available, and the options that come with fortune cookies, which these are.
As a dedicated researcher, I chew through a German Chocolate Cake cookie, while Paris elaborates, “Customers can put any kind of message inside the fortune cookie.” But don’t “Confucius” Sumo Cookies with the restaurant pithy-saying variety. “People put gifts inside, such as money, jewelry and gift cards” Paris explains. Probably best to chew carefully, in case you have an expensive trinket in there.
In light of this, Paris looks towards Valentine’s Day with slight trepidation. “We don’t know just how big business might be.” She and her husband, Chuck Paris, Senior Art Director at Levenson and Hill in Dallas, will be opening the store for business on that Sunday, the one day of the week that the store is usually closed.
But, where did the idea for the giant fortune cookie store come from?
“While I was praying (for guidance), I got devotional emails telling me that I had to take this leap of faith. But still, do you listen to emails? Literally, while I was questioning this with a friend, I got an email from my sister, reiterating, ‘You’ve got to be willing to open your heart and listen…even if it’s through an email!’ I was just bawling at that point. I asked Him to put it on the wall and there it is right in front of me. I believe that when God gives you a gift or talent and it’s not used, it’s wasted. I’d rather take this chance now, than look back 30 years from now and wish I had.”
Since you’re following your faith, what is really your favorite part of the business?
“We love all of the encouragement that we receive from our customers, and that we’re able to greet them face to face in our new store, instead of just having them order online and not getting the chance to meet so many great people.”
What will really impress other fortune cookie “researchers?”
“We believe in quality over quantity…and if you have the quality, the quantity will get there. We use a lot of whipping cream and butter. People love having a retail store which they can come into to look at the selection. The other thing that we have is the flatties.” (I suck in my gut, coincidentally, at this moment). “The flatties are just like the fortune cookies. They’re cookie based; they’re totally encased in chocolate” (breathe slowly, in, out, try not to drool perceptibly), “and people will usually buy these for themselves, whereas they tend to buy the fortune cookies to give as gifts.”
Let’s talk flavors.
“We have Southern Pecan Turtle –“
Hey, that’s good enough. Who needs anything else, right? “German Chocolate Cake, Snickers, also M&Ms – which are very popular for the holidays, and 7 Layer.”
You have s-s-seven layer c-c-cookies? Our writer begins to sweat profusely, glances about for a blood pressure monitor.
Besides gorging yourself and your friends, lots of companies use the Sumo Cookies. Paris explains, “Businesses can put their logos on them. Our store also holds team building events. We deliver within the area, too. We also do ladies nights out and kids’ birthday parties. Cupcake parties are on the way, as well.”
What’s in the future?
“99.9% of the people who come in think it’s a franchise. It’s not, but down the line, we’ll consider either opening multiple stores or franchising.”
Of course, you can’t taste them by email (yet), nor by reading this story. You have to go in, or order them online or by phone. Sumo Cookies’ regular hours are Monday-Friday, 10-6, and Saturday 10-3, plus special days such as this Valentines Day. (For guys, that’s February 14th and, again, it’s on Sunday this year, in case you need to sneak out of church to pick up something). They can be reached at: 972-874-SUMO or via www.sumocookies.com
Huey Lewis had a line in the aforementioned song: “One that won’t make my mouth too dry.” Rest assured, these are more of the mouth-watering variety.