.Pacific Cookie Company Has Been a Santa Cruz Institution for Over 40 Years

Sustainable and locally-sourced ingredients paired with a perfect baking technique have made lifelong customers

Cara Pearson has been working at Pacific Cookie Company since she was 13, but never envisioned becoming the business’s president and co-owner. Her parents Larry and Shelly founded the Santa Cruz legend in 1980, and the cookies have been a hit ever since. Meanwhile, Cara, who graduated with an anthropology degree from UCSC, initially had no interest in the family business. When her dad offered her a management position, she had a change of heart. 
PCC bakes at a higher-than-normal temperature, ensuring a crispy exterior with a soft interior. All the cookies are made with sustainable ingredients, and over 50% of those ingredients are locally sourced. Some bestsellers include the classic Chocolate Chip, the triple-chocolate Dr. Midnight and the Almond Joe. PCC’s flagship retail bakery on Pacific Avenue is open every day 10am-10pm (Fridays and Saturdays until midnight). They also have an online store that ships worldwide. Cara recently spoke about having a family cookie business and what it takes to produce high-quality cookies consistently.

What’s it like running the family business?

CARA PEARSON: Growing up, it was like being a local celebrity. Everyone loves cookies, and most people knew about Pacific Cookie Company, so when I was little, I was worried that people only liked me because of our cookies. Now I have two daughters, and they also share the same concern. It’s always meant a lot to me to be a part of the local community because there are so many amazing entrepreneurs. I often connect with, and advocate for, other female-owned businesses like ours, of which they are many, especially downtown. I didn’t always want to run the family business, but now it’s one of the most fulfilling parts of my life.

What makes your cookies so good?

One thing that sets us apart is that we only make cookies. We’ve spent 42 years trying to continuously get better at what we do. Day in and day out, we are obsessed with quality and producing a cookie that’s affordable, has superior taste and a wide variety of flavors. We are constantly baking to ensure freshness, and we are also known for the great smell of our cookies that wafts up and down Pacific Avenue.

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Pacific Cookie Company, 1203 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 831-429-6905; pacificcookie.com.

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