Jul 22, 2022 - Food and Drink

Nashville cookie shop grew out of a pandemic dream

A composite photo showing a chef icing a cookie and finished cookies.
Mathew Rice and some of his cookie creations. Photos: courtesy of Pink Door Cookies

In the early months of the pandemic, pastry chef and "Chopped" champion Mathew Rice was eager to find a way to fight off the feelings of helplessness that set in after the restaurant industry shut down.

  • "There was very little to do that brought any kind of joy at all," Rice tells Axios.

So he started baking cookies.

Friends who were eager for a little sweetness texted him their requests, and word quickly spread. He began taking orders and leaving the batches on his porch.

  • They were easy to find — Rice's home in the Germantown area is the only one in the neighborhood with a pink door.
  • Within months, Rice's work blossomed into his company Pink Door Cookies, which opened a brick-and-mortar location in December 2020.

Why it matters: It's one of many examples of pandemic-era entrepreneurship that cropped up around Nashville.

Driving the news: Rice, who worked at Pastaria Nashville and at Girl & The Goat in Chicago, says starting his own business was always in the back of his mind.

  • The pandemic forced him to move faster than he expected — and helped him grow a legion of fans who backed a successful Kickstarter campaign. He hopes to continue expanding the concept in the future.

What's inside: The small storefront — at 321 Hart Street in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood — is a technicolor dream world that stays true to Rice's goal of embracing optimism through baked goods.

  • From the front counter, you can see trays of cookies stacked high, with bright bursts of pink and purple icing peeking out.

What he's saying: Rice's recipes are driven by nostalgia for the flavors of childhood.

  • "Everybody loves cookies, but they tend to think of them as one thing," Rice says. "Anything can be a cookie."
  • The menu features cookies based on blueberry pancakes, cotton candy, PB&J and watermelon sugar.

🍋 What Adam tried: The pink lemonade cookie, which combined a hot pink base with bright yellow icing, was a perfectly balanced bite that combined punches of sweet and sour.

  • I'll be back to sample Rice's take on a snickerdoodle, which is rolled in Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
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