Photography by Kathy Tran
Clyde Greenhouse moved to Dallas in the late ’90s for a job as a project manager at a law firm. Even though he started his cookie company 17 years ago, he held his corporate job, which involved extensive travel, until seven years ago.
One occupation was just not enough for Greenhouse.
To make new friends after arriving in Dallas, he worked as a night manager for Crate & Barrel at NorthPark. That’s where he learned about high-end cookware and began participating in cooking classes.
Even though he grew up in rural Louisiana, where the women in his family were great cooks and bakers, he wasn’t really allowed in their kitchens.
He and his partner, Michal Taylor, started Kessler Cookie Co. in 2003 to make corporate gifts, operating only around the holidays for the first several years. They called on friends and family to help them fill all of their orders. Greenhouse’s two sisters, who lived in Dallas, started bringing trays of cookies to parties and events.
Greenhouse and Taylor even enrolled in culinary school at El Centro college for two semesters of night school.
They didn’t rush it, purchasing the former cottage that is now their retail space on North Beckley in 2006. The business continued with corporate gifts, now operating year-round, and they picked up placements in coffee shops while building a retail base.
Now it’s the Kessler Baking Studio, which, in normal times, offered 30 cookie varieties a day. Now it has about 12. They also make several varieties of brownies and blondies, as well as cereal treats, short breads, bundt cakes and, on Sundays, cinnamon rolls.
Their website starts taking cinnamon roll orders at 6 p.m. Saturday, and they typically sell out.
Customers come from the neighborhood, but Greenhouse says the bulk of his customer base comes form Duncanville, Desoto, Cedar Hill and Downtown Dallas.
Greenhouse says his favorite cookie is the Kessler-doodle, his take on a snickerdoodle, which has ginger and is heavy on the spices. That is among the top sellers, along with chocolate chip and oatmeal cranberry walnut.
The best thing about being the cookie man is the people. Sometimes it’s like being a non-alcoholic bartender, he says. “It’s a mood changer,” he says. “People will walk in, and they’re happy, but they’ll tell you about the bad day they’re having.”