Matt O’Brien has always loved Santa Cruz and its beaches. He visited the area often as a kid. O’Brien went on to graduate from UCSC with a degree in marine biology. His love for the ocean even inspired him to work in the restaurant industry so he could spend his days surfing. But after hearing about a co-worker’s—now-defunct—late-night cookie delivery service, O’Brien was motivated to start his own cookie biz. The Modesto native went grassroots: he printed fliers and baked cookies in his apartment. Seven years later, Cookie Cruz’s baked-to-order, delivered hot and fresh to customers’ doors, has become a local favorite.
In addition to the most popular flavors—Nutella, cookies & cream and classic chocolate chip—there are also peanut butter and jelly and orange creamsicle cookies. They also offer giant stuffed cookies, aka “cookie bombs” (try the s’mores!), ice cream, milk and vegan and gluten-free options. Hours are 7pm-2am Tuesday-Sunday. O’Brien recently spoke to GT about Cookie Cruz’s proof of concept and what it’s like being a small business owner.
What proved that your business was viable?
MATT O’BRIEN: Early on, I knew I was onto something when I would come home late at night after my restaurant job, turn on my phone for business and sell out of cookies almost immediately. That showed me that the business had the capacity to grow, so I kept saving my money so I could rent a commercial kitchen space. I’ve never looked back, and it’s been a great experience that continues to challenge me.
What’s challenging about owning a small business?
It’s always on my mind. When I was working for someone else, after my shift was over, I didn’t even think about my job. But now, owning my own business, there’s always something to do and something I could be doing—it’s always there. Now I never feel off, even when I am off. But it’s a great responsibility to have; this is my baby, and it’s so satisfying and fulfilling to see it grow and succeed.
Cookie Cruz, 254 Potrero St., Santa Cruz, 831-419-1257; cookiecruz.com.