Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Chip City cookies are often filled – in the case of the Italian Rainbow cookie, its almond flavor is complemented with raspberry jam and topped with chocolate ganache. (Photo: Chip City Cookies)

The national cookie chain Chip City will open a location in Harvard Square in July at 1 Brattle Square, not far from the long-standing Insomnia Cookies location on Mount Auburn Street – and on the heels of another chain, Crumbl Cookies, that opened in Central Square in March.

It’s part of a major Chip City national expansion, said co-founder and chief executive Peter Phillips, that brings the chain founded in 2017 to 51 locations by the end of the year. Phillips said it aims to add another 20 or 30 locations next year.

“We’re really excited to get further into the Boston market in general, and we felt like Harvard Square in particular was very aligned with our customer base and was a place we could see ourselves being successful,” Phillips said.

The Harvard Square location will join two Chip City stores in Boston and another in Watertown. It joins another nationally expanding dessert chain at its own leased Harvard Square space: the ice cream store Van Leeuwen, which is set to open in the fall also at 1 Brattle Square. (Van Leeuwen will be the square’s seventh ice cream store, after Ben & Jerry’s, J.P. Licks, Amorino, Taiyaki, Lizzy’s and BerryLine.)

Chip City, which started with a 250-square store in Queens, New York, opened by Phillips and his high school friend Teddy Gailas, secured a $7.5 million Series B investment from Enlightened Hospitality Investments last week that will be used to continue to grow the brand and to open more bricks-and-mortar locations throughout the United States. Chip City runs on a fully corporate-owned model, meaning its stores are not franchised.

“We’ve been really passionate about the corporate model, because it allows us to maintain control of our units fully and lets us dictate the experience of our consumers,” Phillip said.

A calling card of Crumbl (which we tasted here) is its rotating menu: Each Sunday, the brand announces the cookie flavors it will sell for the following week, standardized in its stores across the country. Chip City takes a similar approach, rotating through special flavors on a weekly basis, although its “core cookies” – chocolate chip, cookies n’ creme, s’mores and confetti, plus a dairy-free chocolate chip – are always available. The rotating cookies include three flavors and a dairy-free flavor sold daily, plus a cookie sold exclusively Saturday and a cookie sold exclusively Sunday. The rotating flavors are creative and often out-of-the-box: baklava, blueberry cheesecake, Italian rainbow cookie, red velvet hot chocolate.

Like Crumbl, Chip City aims for variety and creativity. But unlike Crumbl, which mixes its doughs in stores, Chip City has a central manufacturing facility – an 18,000-square-foot space in Queens where the dough is made and shipped to stores around the country, Phillips said..

While developing recipes, Phillips and Gailas found that the Chip City dough actually baked better from frozen, so the dough is sent to the stores from the facility frozen and then baked fresh on-site.

“That’s how we ensure the product is consistent. All of the dough is being made at a central facility, so whether you’re having a cookie in Boston or a cookie in New York or a cookie in Florida, they’re all coming out of the same facility,” Phillips said. “Any time you’re making something at different locations, it’s never going to be 100 percent the same.”

The ingredients also make a difference.

“We have really premium ingredients,” Phillips said. “We use very high-grade European butters with high fat contents and we use the very best chocolate.”

This differentiates Chip City from a more corporatized company like the one with which it shares Harvard Square, Insomnia Cookies. “Insomnia’s not making their own cookies,” Phillips said. “They’re working with manufacturers and they’ve done everything to make the product as affordable as possible for their end.”