Founded by Ricki Krupp in her home kitchen more than 35 years ago, Ricki’s Cookie Corner has since become a household name for residents in the Memphis area and beyond. Every item is freshly baked using a nondairy recipe, which is good for customers who are lactose intolerant and those who follow kosher dietary guidelines. While customers are welcome at Ricki’s East Memphis bakery in Eastgate Shopping Center during her weekday store hours, many of Ricki’s favorites can be found at Kroger stores across the city, in the local section at Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More, as well as on the specials menu at Mosa Asian Bistro (they are used for the delicious Asian sliders).
With her taxing work schedule, it’s hard to believe that she has time for much else, but Ricki wears the hats of baker, wife, mother of six, grandmother of 15, Grizzlies fan, Memphis supporter and friend to many. And today, this inspiring woman is our FACE of Memphis. Welcome, Ricki!
How did you discover your love of baking?
Since I was a little girl, I have loved to bake. My mom was a very talented baker, and I grew up watching and helping her in the kitchen. I consider myself lucky that my love to bake has blossomed into a career.
What was the inspiration behind Ricki’s Cookie Corner?
I’ve been selling my baked goods for over 35 years now. I started by servicing a need within the Jewish community, and as demand grew for my product, I expanded along with it. Sixteen years ago, we made the huge leap to a retail space and thank God the business followed. Nine years ago, we broke down the walls to an empty space in order to expand, and now we wonder how we ever lived without that space. With our website business growing like it is, we’ll likely need more space soon.
What is your secret to keeping customers coming back for more?
Great question. There are two primary reasons. One, our product is really good. It’s fresh, handmade and is unique from other bakeries. Two, we make a point to really get to know our customers. Many of our customers have been with me since the beginning and visit the bakery weekly. Our customers quickly become part of the bakery family and enjoy coming in, sometimes just to schmooze.
Is expansion into other locations or cities a possibility?
Right now, our focus is on Memphis. My family has been in Memphis for several generations and that will continue, as my daughter Aviva works full time at the bakery with me. Technically, we consider ourselves to be in other cities, as we ship all over the country daily. We even have loyal customers out of town that will pay $5 for a loaf of bread and $10 for us to ship to them!
What does a day in the life of Ricki Krupp look like?
More like day/night in the life! I am in the bakery early and stay late, especially during the holiday season. If anyone tells you this business is easy, they’re crazy! I like to get in early to make sure the bakery team is on track to meet our required production. I use the early morning to get caught up on paperwork and emails, and then we hit the ovens for a few hours. After a full day of interacting with customers and continually restocking the shelves, I end the night by preparing for the next day’s production. Oh, and on Wednesday, we make fresh pizza — so those days are even longer.
How do you unwind at the end of your day?
Usually, it’s the end of the night, but I like to unwind by spending time with my husband, who I have been married to for 43 years, watching the Grizzlies on TV or taking a walk around the block. With family, children and grandchildren in Memphis (and abroad), they keep me busy!
What is the last best book you read?
I wish I had more time to read. Given our large Jewish family, I host Sabbath meals almost every Friday night. So most of the time, if I’m reading outside of work, it’s a cookbook!
What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Squeezing in time to run a bakery while raising six kids — and helping with 15 grandkids!
What is your most treasured family tradition?
Family meals over the Jewish holidays. With such a large family, it’s hard to get everyone together. Around the Jewish holidays, though, my children come in from out of town and we have large, fun and wild meals. Getting everyone in the room together is something I look forward to all year.
What do you love most about living in Memphis?
The people. There’s just something about Southern people that is different. When people visit the bakery, it’s not just a financial transaction. I engage with my customers and they engage back. I’ve had hour-long conversations with first-time customers.
What’s your best piece of advice for others?
Don’t let others tell you what’s possible and what’s not. I had no formal business training and no formal culinary training. Many people didn’t give me much of a shot at succeeding in the early days, but I always believed in myself and had the support of my family. If you’re passionate about something, you can find a way to make it work.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends?
My cell phone (family is always calling!), a comfortable pair of shoes (I’m on my feet A LOT) and my kitchen (When I’m not baking at the bakery, I’m cooking at home.)
Our thanks to photographer Emily Robbins for capturing these fantastic photos of Ricki!
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