Wed, April 24, 2024

Local cookie dough franchisee, coffee shop open dual business

For nearly two years, Jen Harpley has wanted to open a dessert business across the street from Evans Towne Center Park, but as of last week, her wish has finally come true.

Harpley, who serves as a COO for a CSRA business, owns the local Alumni Cookie Dough franchise at 7025 Evans Towne Center Blvd., Suite 213 in The Plaza at Evans Towne Center, which is owned by Meybohm. The space was previously occupied by Roll On In and Buzzed Bull Creamery. Alumni share its space with Rooted Coffeehouse’s second location.

When she took over the franchise, the business was located near TakoSushi at 1202 Town Park Lane in Evans, which she immediately closed with plans of relocating it. Harpley initially asked the former owners about operating an Alumni food truck, but instead, they offered to sell her the franchise.


“We didn’t think it would take us almost two years,” she said.

The Athens-based company sells cookie dough in a variety of flavors, including red velvet, snickerdoodle, birthday bash, and the Freshman 15, which contains salted caramel and chocolate chips. Harpley said so far, it’s been her best-selling flavor.

“One day, we sold an entire pan in four hours,” she said.

It also offers seasonal, vegan, and gluten-free dough options.

Alumni and Rooted celebrated their soft opening last Wednesday and Thursday. The grand opening celebration will be held this Friday at 11:30 a.m., with a ribbon cutting by the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.

Alumni Cookie Dough and Rooted are together under one roof in Evans.

As a resident of Riverwood, Harpley was familiar with Rooted and asked its owners if they were interested in going into business with her.

“They were interested right away,” she said. “It’s been a great pairing; between the two, we’re perfect businesses for the area.”

Alumni Cookie Dough was founded in July 2018 by Jennifer Dollander, a former special education teacher, and her husband, Mike. The Dollanders, who are both graduates of the University of Georgia, opened the original location in Athens in Jan. 2019.

“We franchised really quickly and currently have five locations,” Jennifer said.

Besides Athens and Evans, Alumni has locations in Marietta, Acworth, and Milton.

“We had our eye on this location (Evans) for a while,” she said. “Its walkability is so exciting to me.”

Jennifer, who creates all the company’s recipes, got the idea for the business when she traveled to New York City with her daughter and discovered a cookie dough café in Greenwich Village.

“I had already signed my teaching contract, so I was teaching that year,” Jennifer said.

Jen Harpley, on left, now owns the fifth Alumni Cookie Dough franchise. Jennifer Dollander, on right, started the franchise in 2018.

In addition to the café locations, she has also focused on increasing their wholesale accounts. Many mom-and-pop shops, including Good Earth on Davis Road, carry their cookie dough, as do hotel chains, such as Hilton and Marriott.

Harpley said next year, they hope to sell their dough at Augusta GreenJackets games.

The company donates to various non-profit organizations and hosts fundraisers for sports teams and other groups.

“The more successful we are, the more we can give back,” she said.

Harpley currently has seven employees and is excited about introducing the brand to new customers.

“The best part is when people taste it for the first time and seeing their reactions,” she said. “It’s been very rewarding.”

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