Daddy’s Dough Cookies is one of many Black-owned businesses in Grand Rapids that have been forced to make major adjustments to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, for a business that went from baking out of a family home to working in commercial kitchens and selling cookies in markets all over the city over the span of just a few years, Daddy’s Dough is no stranger to big changes.
Everything started when the then-five-year-old daughter of Daddy’s Dough’s founder and owner, MarcQus Wright, pitched a business proposal to her father.
“I would bake cookies every now and then and my daughter said, ‘Daddy, you should sell these. You could have a business and call it Nothing but Cookies!’” Wright said. “I was like ‘Eh, I don’t know if I would do that.”
That small suggestion led to Wright taking his cookie-baking skills more seriously. He decided to see if they were really as good as his daughter said they were, and he gave cookies out to coworkers that he supervised while working at Grand Valley State University.
“Everyone said they were really good, but I thought ‘They might be lying, so let me try giving them to my brothers and sisters,’” Wright said, “When they said the cookies were good, I knew it was legit. If they were nasty, my siblings would have said, ‘Dude, don’t even try to sell these.’”
Wright started Daddy’s Dough in late 2016 and baked cookies from home while still working at GVSU. The business started small, but grew quickly as word and delicious cookie aromas spread around Grand Rapids. Soon enough, Daddy’s Dough outgrew its humble roots in Wright’s home.
“Once I baked 600 cookies for a wedding out of my house my wife was like, ‘You got to figure this out. You have to either cut back or make this a legit business,’” Wright said. “That’s when I decided to put in my resignation to Grand Valley and see what this business could do.”
Since Daddy’s Dough became an official commercial business in June 2018, it has expanded all over Grand Rapids. Their cookies are sold at three physical retail locations in The Bridge Street Market, Horrock’s Market and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. Traveling to events and other farmers’ markets used to make up the biggest portion of Daddy’s Dough’s sales, but the COVID-19 pandemic has completely cut out that part of the business.
Cookies can also be ordered online from their website, www.daddysdough.com, which Wright says has become the most popular sales platform since widespread event cancellations began last year.
“Online is our top way to sell now,” Wright said. “It used to be where we did least of our business because we weren’t really pushing it, but when things got twisted around, we updated our website and made it a little bit easier for people to order online.”
Despite the modernization of day-to-day operations, the heart of Daddy’s Dough’s charm and identity as a Black-owned business lies in its family-focused origins.
“I look at the legacy that my family has laid out and the hard work that my grandmother did,” Wright said, “She dropped out of high school and went to work for our family. I watched my dad work too — he had a full-time job but at times had to pick up an extra job or two to be able to help provide for his family. To me, to be a part of a Black business legacy through my family is very important.”
Daddy’s Dough offers many popular cookie flavors like chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate and snickerdoodle. Original cookies like the Beauty — which contains chocolate, toffee and pecans — and the Beast — which is made of chocolate, butterscotch, walnut and pecans — are Daddy’s Dough specialties. They also have some unique, gourmet creations that are a little more unconventional.
In addition to cookies, Daddy’s Dough sells cream pies, which are cookie sandwiches with cream in the middle. Flavors include red velvet, birthday cake, apple cider and classic oatmeal cream pies.
Cookie kits that contain dry ingredients can also be purchased. Customers can get a cookie kit then add a few wet ingredients at home to have fresh-baked Daddy’s Dough cookies whenever they want. The kits round out a diverse, delicious dessert menu that’s got something for everyone.
“Sometimes people will look at your business and see who you are and assume that your products might be inferior,” Wright said, “It’s unfortunate that you have to deal with that, but that’s the reality of the world that we live in. We try to go above that and say, ‘Check out our products. Once you do, you’ll be hooked. Trust me.’”
More information about Daddy’s Dough can be found online on their website and on their Facebook page.