The logo of Lowrider Baking Company, a new Central District cookie counter shop, may feature a large wiener dog but its cookies are for humans only.
“It was just a way to combine my obsession with my dogs and my obsession with cookies,” says Lowrider founder and owner Emily Allport, who owns two dachshunds, Smokey and Riley. Now, she also owns a cookie-only bakery space and walk-up counter in The Stencil building on 24th and Union, located in the former Street Treats retail space. Lowrider Baking Company will officially open May 11th.
For two years, Lowrider has been a popular pop-up presence at farmer’s markets and some coffee shops in the South End. In October of last year, Allport made her cookie operation more permanent with a trailer in the Georgetown Trailer Park Mall. There, the bakery has a sign that says “COOKIES,” and in parentheses, “for humans”, though Allport says that “99.9% of the time there is no confusion.”
Allport, wearing a baseball hat, apron and tired smile, was swamped with work when CHS met her in the new shop ahead of the opening. Giant trays of cookie dough remain unbaked. Today, she’s making 2.000 cookies for different clients around town, including the American Express airport lounge, Olympia Coffee in West Seattle and Boon Boona Coffee, while also installing soap dispensers, and other new details of her new kitchen space.
The CD shop will mostly function as a production space and take-out counter. There won’t be any seats. Everything will be to go, including the coffee, cold brew, and chocolate milk plus multiple Full Tilt ice cream flavors. Now that she has more space, Allport will also expand her “fixed menu” of four cookie flavors to six, including brown butter triple chocolate chip, birthday cake, salted toffee pecan, cookies and cream, s’mores, and lemon cranberry. Allport will build onto that with two rotating monthly flavors and one stuffed cookie on the menu.
It’s a recipe similar to the successful rise of Hello Robin on 19th Ave E where the mother of the Mackles’more does steady walk-up business.
Lowrider fans will still be able to get their cookie fix in Georgetown, where the trailer will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as during farmer’s markets across the region.
“We never had any intentions to leave Georgetown,” Allport says. “This spot allows us to have more kitchen space than we did before and do more production, but also have a retail spot that’s a little bit more north.”
For Allport, the Central District is “north.” She lives in Burien and used to make her cookies in White Center (in the kitchen space of Full Tilt Ice Cream) until she opened her Georgetown cookie trailer last year, after less than two years in business. That she’s been able to expand so quickly is partly due to a stroke of luck. Her first summer, she sold cookies only at the Burien and Des Moines farmers markets. One early client worked at American Express and brought some cookies to work. Not long after, his manager contacted Allport. Within a few weeks, her cookies were in the American Express airport lounges. Since then, Allport’s quickly made her name in the region.
A brick and mortar space was always the objective, but Allport figured it’d be a shop in Burien or White Center. Until Diane Skwiercz of Street Treats, an ice cream cookie sandwich truck turned Central District shop, called Allport up to say she’d leave the space to focus on catering and wholesale after two years of operating from The Stencil building. Since moving in late March, Allport’s been converting the space and getting ready for the May 11th opening.
It’s just one of the recent changes and additions on and near the 23rd and Union block in the last few years. Tacos, doughnuts, “creative burgers,” you name it, and it has settled in the area, which has been called a “test site for gentrification,” and “Seattle’s most controversial block”.
Though there have been glimmers of a reverse tide, such as the “equitable development” of the Liberty Bank Building, which includes black-owned businesses such as Earl’s Cuts and Styles and a restaurant by That Brown Girl Cooks, the neighborhood and block has changed dramatically. The Black population around 23rd and Union decreased from 36% to 12% from 2000 to 2015, while the white population increased from 51% to 70% in that same period, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.
Allport’s Stencil Building neighbor, Akiko Eisner-Waters, found two pieces of paper taped to her door shortly after the opening of her lifestyle store CURA in March. The notes decried and described cultural appropriation and gentrification, “the displacement of Black and Brown urban residents by more affluent whites.”
Asked about what her thought process was about coming to this neighborhood, Allport said: “I think I was so focused on getting a storefront… I didn’t really think about it. I mean, I’m aware that it’s historically an African American neighborhood, but no it wasn’t really in my — I think for us, we’re such a friendly, approachable business, I think that we have a lot to offer. We’ve only had good reactions.”
Lowrider Baking Company is located at 2407 E Union. You can learn more at lowriderbakingco.com.
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