Entrepreneurial teacher opens gourmet cookie shop in Richland

Longtime friends Kevin Hatch of Richland and Ian Taylor of Utah decided to become business partners and open a Crumbl Cookie store at 2665 Queensgate Blvd. in Vintner Square in Richland. (Photo by Kristina Lord)

A Richland elementary school teacher who runs a festive wintertime side hustle is adding another one – this one catering to the Tri-City sweet tooth.

Kevin Hatch, 39, plans to open Crumbl Cookie in late March. The cookie shop franchise features a weekly rotating menu of more than 120 specialty flavors.

The new store at 2665 Queensgate Blvd. in Vintner Square shares a strip mall anchored by Five Guys and Maurices, near Target.

Hatch said that’s intentional.

“When we were searching for locations, we looked all over the Tri-Cities. Crumbl likes to be next to Target. That’s their demographic: The Target mom,” he said, referring to the Orem, Utah-based company.

The pandemic delayed their opening plans slightly, mainly due to supply chain issues, but waiting for the previous tenant’s lease to expire for their coveted neighbor-to-Target location took longer.

Why Crumbl?

Hatch and his business partner, Ian Taylor of Provo, Utah, a friend for over 20 years, began planning in earnest to open the 1,700-square-foot store in August 2019.

Taylor and Hatch served together during a two-year Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission in New Mexico. They’ve been friends ever since. Taylor pitched the Crumbl franchise idea to Hatch.

“I fell in love with the cookie and then the Crumbl brand and what it offers customers. He said, ‘We’ve got to bring this to the Tri-Cities,’ ” Hatch said.

Hatch said the franchise is “just growing like crazy across the nation.”

Two cousins opened the first Crumbl in Logan, Utah, in 2017, and the franchise has expanded to more than 75 locations in 11 states.

The Richland store will be the first on the east side of the state, with stores already open in Covington and Puyallup. A new store in Marysville is opening in March.

“I grew up here, and it seems like we’ve always been the last to get things. We’re still waiting on things that some bigger cities have. Crumbl is one of those things that bigger cities have. We’re excited to bring it here. We have great faith in our community and know they will support it,” Hatch said.

The store’s opening is planned for the week of March 24, with an official grand opening day on March 26, which is a free cookie day. Customers are encouraged to download the Crumbl smartphone app to receive a free chocolate chip cookies on this day.

Crumbl customers can order takeout, curbside pickup, delivery or nationwide shipping via the app.

Fancy flavors galore

Among the shop’s unique cookie flavors are cinnamon swirl, caramel popcorn, peanut butter oatmeal cookies with chocolate fudge frosting, red velvet white chip and molten lava cookies with a gooey center.

“There’s no end in sight to the new cookie flavors they’re bringing out,” said Taylor, whose day job for the past 13 years is vice president of sales for a software company.

The most popular cookie flavors include Nutella, raspberry cheesecake and lemon poppyseed, Hatch said. “Some of them do have a cult following,” he said.

Courtesy Crumbl Cookies

Those who prefer the familiar comforts of traditional flavors can enjoy Crumbl’s warm milk chocolate chip and chilled sugar cookies as they’re always on the menu.

“They really just perfected it. They’ve perfected the chocolate chip cookie but the chilled sugar cookie is my favorite. They use almond extract and that takes it over the top for me,” he said.

Many of Crumbl’s cookies are served warmed. After baking, they’re placed in a warmer to maintain that “just out of the oven” temperature. “Even if delivered, they’ll be served warm,” Hatch said.

All the cookies are from scratch, Hatch said. “Nothing is premade. We have an open concept kitchen. Customers will be able to see us making cookies.”

But don’t expect to try each of their flavors when you visit the store.

Crumbl pushes out four new weekly flavors every Sunday.

“They’re trying to keep the element of surprise and anticipation by only releasing the cookie flavors the Sunday before so people are always looking and always coming back,” Hatch said.

The Richland store’s cookie prices are $3.98 for one cookie, $13.48 for a four-pack and $34.88 for a dozen.

Their ice cream sells for the same price – $3.98 a pint.

Wait, what? They sell cookies and ice cream?

Yes, the store sells half pints of ice cream in a variety of cookie-inspired flavors: cookies & cream, salted caramel, s’mores, chocolate cake, vanilla, churro and muddy buddy.

Six ice cream flavors will rotate quarterly, Hatch said.

Crumbl doesn’t offer indoor seating, but will have a couple tables outside.

To wash down the cookie goodness, customers can buy milk, chocolate milk and water in an aluminum bottle.

The store offers catering, a rewards program and delivery, using its own drivers and DoorDash.

Teacher & entrepreneur

Hatch is a teacher with an entrepreneurial heart.

The Richland father of four, ages 2, 4, 6 and 8, is in his second year of teaching. He worked as a kindergarten teacher at Jefferson Elementary in Richland his first year. This year, he’s teaching first-graders at the Richland Virtual School, the school district’s new online-only school.

The virtual school means he can structure some of his day on his own schedule. The class meets live Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. He prepares video lessons and other assignments for students for the rest of the week.

“I don’t have a traditional schedule like a teacher does in a classroom,” he said.

While he’s teaching, he plans to rely on his Crumbl crew – more than 40 bakers, delivery drivers and shift leads – to run the shop.

While most are part-timers, about six to eight will be shift leads.

“I’m surrounded by great people. It’s not a one-man show. I have excellent family support, a great business partner and a great team of people around me,” he said.

An early start

Hatch began his entrepreneurial career early.

The Kennewick High graduate used to buy bags of candies at Costco and sell them his siblings’ friends who came over to their house. He ran a shaved ice business and mowed lawns.

“I guess it’s being your own boss is part of it,” he said. “Working for the man has its benefits too. There’s benefits on both sides.”

Another aspect of being his own boss that he enjoys is identifying problems and solving them.

Fourteen years ago, he launched a holiday lighting service business, Deck the Hall, which hangs, maintains and takes down Christmas lights for commercial and residential customers.

His nephew Landon Willard bought into the business in 2020. They employ up to eight people seasonally.

It originally started when Hatch and his buddy were doing landscaping work. They started it and each made $24. “We thought we were doing great,” he said.

Today, the business has more than 300 customers.

Hatch said he makes as much from Deck the Hall as teaching, “if not more,” he said.

So why would a busy father of four, a full-time teacher and owner of another business want to launch a new franchise like Crumbl, Hatch laughed and said, “I wonder myself why I’m doing this.”

“I was sold on the product and the process and the people. They’ve perfected the cookie and their branding is spot on. I just want to be a part of it. They have a proven, successful model,” he said.

Store hours are 8-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; and closed on Sundays. More information: crumblcookies.com.

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