Story and photos by Alex Whitten
Fresh baked brownies and cookies, rows upon rows of ice cream flavors, and a multitude of candies and toppings; these are all things you can expect while visiting The Baked Bear.
The popular cookie and ice cream shop, The Baked Bear, opened its third location in SanTan Village recently.
This is the franchise’s 21st outlet and the Valley’s locations are owned by Anthony and Ginger Velez.
Ginger Velez said they chose the Gilbert mall due to its foot traffic and recommendations from customers at their Scottsdale and Tempe locations.
“Everybody’s been telling me to go to SanTan,” Velez said. “I like how many people are out here.”
The inviting shop is decorated in the franchise’s blue and white accents, along with many cookie-related décor elements.
The Baked Bear originated in 2013 Pacific Beach in San Diego, California and was founded by childhood pals Rob Robbins and Shane Stanger. They came up with the idea after both completed college and got employment, and realized they would rather be their own bosses.
“His dad has a background in the restaurant industry, I had a background in business and marketing,” Stanger said.
Before their official opening, the two spent a lot of time in Robbins’ father’s bakery, learning how to make cookies. To this day, the company teaches every baker how to make their cookies.
“We make every cookie, all original recipes,” Stanger said. “Every single store has its own bakery and bakers. No cookies served were made anything but that day. Nothing is ever sitting around.”
Stanger and Robbins chose Arizona as their first state to expand to, as every summer, most of their out-of-town customers were from Arizona. (The franchise is also available in seven other states across the country.)
“Every summer we’d ask ‘where are you from’ and probably a third of them were from Arizona,” Stanger said. “We had this pretty big Arizona following.”
When it comes to dessert combos, The Baked Bear has a plethora of choices. The most popular option for guests is to make their own ice cream sandwiches, with choices like the cookie sandwich, brownie sandwich, donut sandwich and combos.
Guests have near-unlimited options when it comes to combining the many cookie and ice cream flavors with a multitude of toppings, with the option of hot pressing them so the cookies are extra warm.
Velez said that her favorite combination consists of a brownie, chocolate chip cookies and salted caramel fudge ice cream.
The Baked Bear also offers hot fudge sundaes, a ‘Bear Bowl’ of slightly baked cookie dough with a choice of ice cream flavor to top it, root beer floats, brownies and cookies.
Looking to the future, Velez plans to expand the franchise to the West Valley.
The Baked Bear is at 2206 E. Williams Field Road, Suite 118 in SanTan Village, Gilbert.
Details: 480-912-8954 or thebakedbear.com/gilbert.