Lion Cub's Cookies planning first storefront in Grandview Heights
When Bradley Kaplan visited his mother for the holidays in 2018, he decided to bring some treats with him.
Kaplan had loved to cook since childhood but had never tried baking cookies.
The batch he prepared for the trip home really hit the spot, he said.
"I really like pumpkin pie and pumpkin cake, so I looked for an easy pumpkin cookie recipe that I could do in the kitchen at my house," Kaplan said. "I really enjoyed eating them during my visit. My family really didn't eat many of them. I had kind of made them for myself."
He was hooked.
Baking cookies quickly became a hobby Kaplan would fit in whenever his schedule allowed.
"I really loved trying out new recipes for cookies and seeing what worked and what didn't," he said. "Gradually, the cookies were getting better, and I was enjoying eating them even more."
He worked as an engineer, but Kaplan said he always was interested in creating a food-related business.
With his cookies, he said, he knew he had the ingredients for a business.
Lion Cub's Cookies began as a delivery-only business in June 2020.
"Opening a business during the pandemic was a challenge, but it was easier for us because we were a delivery business," Kaplan said.
Kaplan is planning to open his first storefront later this spring at 1261 Grandview Avenue in Grandview Heights. The storefront was the former location of Peabody Papers.
He currently operates the business out of the Food Fort business incubator at 737 Parkwood Ave. in Columbus.
"It's a great place to start and incubate a business," Kaplan said. "What I needed was a location where we could take Lion Cub's Cookies to the next level."
The delivery business will continue, and Kaplan said he and his team would bake the cookies at the Grandview Avenue location.
People will be able to walk in and purchase cookies to go or to enjoy them at a small seating area.
The biggest percentage of Lion Cub's deliveries are made to customers in the Grandview, Upper Arlington and Short North areas, said Kaplan, who lives in Columbus' Victorian Village-Harrison West neighborhood.
"That makes Grandview a good location for the store, but there's a big parking lot behind the building and along Grandview Avenue, and that's good for a delivery business," he said.
Lion Cub's Cookies also will be a complement to some of Grandview Avenue's other businesses, Kaplan said.
"People who are stopping by Stauf's Coffee may want to grab a cookie to enjoy with their beverage. And the Jeni's (Spendid Ice Creams), well cookies and ice cream really go well together," he said.
Cub Shrub, a children's clothing store, is right next door to the future Lion Cub's site at 1273 Grandview Ave.
"Kids and cookies go well together," said Niki Quinn, who owns Cub Shrub with her husband, Josh. "We love the idea of families being able to pop in next door and grab a cookie after stopping in at Cub Shrub. Possibly even as a reward for little shoppers' good behavior."
The two businesses have similar names but are not connected, Kaplan said.
"Lion Cub's" refers to a childhood nickname his father gave him, he said.
"He'd rustle my hair and call me his little lion cub," Kaplan said. "I had a lot of energy and a big mane of hair he thought looked like a lion."
Some of his childhood energy was expended in the kitchen at his family's home on the west side of Cleveland.
He always liked the experience of eating something he had prepared himself, Kaplan said.
"The kitchen's a little bit like a laboratory," he said.
It's fun to try out different ideas with dishes and find out whether the results are tasty.
"You really learn a lot quickly when you're cooking," Kaplan said. "You find out fast what works and what doesn't."
His cooking prowess continued in college at Ohio State University.
"I was a pretty typical guy. It was a lot of steak-and-potatoes type of things," Kaplan said. "Smokers in the backyard. I really enjoy grilling out."
But Kaplan, 30, didn't try baking until he was heading home for the holidays.
The cookies he baked for his holiday trip, as well as those Lion Cub's deliveries to customers, are big and thick.
Although he won't divulge his recipe secrets, Kaplan said, the key is that his cookies are crunchy on the outside with a gooey center.
"By delivering them while they're still hot, you get all of that gooey goodness," he said.
He and his pastry chef have developed about 50 cookie recipes, but only five varieties are offered each week.
"We always offer chocolate chip and cookies 'n cream, and we offer a different chocolate-based cookie each week," Kaplan said.
The menu is rounded out with two featured cookies. The rotation of featured cookies includes carrot cake, PB&J, apple pie, maple bacon and, of course, pumpkin roll.
New cookies are being added to the menu all the time, Kaplan said, and he expects to have about 100 items on the list by the end of this year.
Lion Cub's delivers throughout central Ohio, but the order date and delivery times vary.
Cookies are delivered from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays to Hilliard and Dublin and 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays to Easton, Gahanna, New Albany, Westerville and Worthington. Deliveries to Columbus (downtown, the Short North, Grandview, German Village, Olde Towne East, the Ohio State campus, Franklinton, Bexley, the near east side and portions of Upper Arlington and Clintonville) are made during limited hours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
"That helps ensure the cookies will be hot and gooey when you get them," he said.
The cookies that walk-in customers will enjoy also will be hot out of the oven, Kaplan said.
Kaplan said he expects to open the new storefront in the spring, but the date is still to be determined.
More information about Lion Cub's, its cookies and how to order is available at lioncubscookies.com.