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Excelsior resident Gina Sauer sampled Cookie Cups’ private label coffee during her first visit to the bakery. (Elizabeth Hustad/Laker Pioneer)

by Elizabeth hustAd

Not one to do things conventionally, Nicole Pomije is certainly independent in her approach to July celebrations.

“Everyone is advertising their Fourth of July stuff, and I feel like you get lost if you go with the crowd,” she said. “Sometimes when you go against it, as we often like to do, people turn their heads.”

Pomije owns Cookie Cups bakery in Navarre, and instead of red, white and blue, she’s seeing red and green; and instead of the boom and crackle of fireworks and the more savory foodie smells of a backyard cookout, she’s hearing sleigh bells and letting the sweetly spiced gingerbread aroma waft from the oven.

For Pomije, it’s Christmas in July.

“There’s something about the holiday season. You just feel this overwhelming sense of caring toward one another and giving and just…happiness,” Pomije said, pausing briefly. It’s the kind of feeling Pomije said she has wanted to inject into her business from the beginning.

When the first cookie cups in classic chocolate chip bloomed for her father-in-law in mini cupcake tins back in 2014, Pomije showed a resourcefulness, determination and innovating spirit that has since allowed the bakery to expand from farmers’ markets to brick and mortar store.

Cookie Cups will unwrap three new flavors for its summertime Christmas: gingerbread, lemon drop and strawberry rose. They’re flavors Pomije said will make the most of the fresh summer fruits the company always uses for its recipes while still evoking classic Yuletide flavors. The new flavors, along with gift boxes and a slate of gift items, will be available all of July.

But there’s one more present under tree.

Cookie Cups has been open at its Navarre location on Shoreline Drive, across from Lunds & Byerlys and neighbor to the Narrows Saloon and Lake Room restaurants, for just over a year. Now the purple and pink pastel, outside-the-box (and off-the-cookie-sheet) bakery will open a second store in Chanhassen in about three weeks, Pomije said, citing ongoing renovations and inspections as the hold-up for cementing an exact opening date.

The Chanhassen spot has been less of an undertaking than the Navarre location, which is housed in a building that dates to the 1950’s and which used to hold offices for American Family Insurance. Though only a mere 300 square feet larger, Chan’s projected 19 seats is more than double the seating capacity at its Navarre cousin, an arrangement which Pomije said will allow for more of a cafe feel and which prompted an expanded menu that will have more breakfast and lunch options.

Already, noshes like a three-cheese mac and cheese made with locally-sourced black truffle salt, homey cupcake cups of two different corn breads and a more modernist Asian-inspired chicken taco cup are available for pick-up in Navarre.

First on the expanded list for Chanhassen are pancake cups and milkshakes, Pomije said.

While much of Cookie Cups’ business currently comes from online orders, catering and cooking classes, Pomije said, the larger store, situated at 600 Market St. in the city’s downtown, could open up opportunities for more walk-in business.

Pomije might be thinking about Christmas in July, but she’s got plans for the actual season, too. Just past the excitement of a fall that will showcase apples in every way is a Christmas that asks for your passport – Cookie Cups is looking to live la vie du parisien, and customers can expect classic macaroon flavors like vanilla, cappuccino and chocolate and admire a mural of Paris by Jim Cook outside its Navarre site. For those who’ve seen it, Cook also designed the bakery’s holiday mural last year.

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