In a light blue kitchen, Gina Celli can be found pounding out the dough for her freshly baked cookies to the tunes of Led Zeppelin.
Or Frank Sinatra, or Arthea Franklin.
“Really, we just want to create a space where people feel happy,” Celli said. “It sounds cliche, but this business was born in our home around the kitchen table. And that’s what I want people to feel.”
Celli’s Chocolate Chips started as an online business about a year ago but has recently moved to a new storefront in Williamsburg off John Tyler Highway. The shop is owned by Celli, a cookie connoisseur but, in true New Yorker fashion, it is a family business at heart.
“She’s been baking cookies for over 20 years,” said Kacie Celli, her daughter who is also the business’ marketing manager. “It’s something we are extremely proud of her for.”
Gina Celli said she has always had a passion for baking, especially cookies. She has made them for her family when they lived in New York and the treats helped her connect to the community when she moved to Williamsburg eight years ago.
About a year ago, Gina Celli realized she could take her passion to the next level by starting a cookie bakery business online. She started selling to friends and at church functions, but the popularity of the cookies took off quickly.
“There’s nothing like a cookie bakery in Williamsburg,” she said. “There are cupcakes and others but we wanted to offer something different. Everyone likes a cookie, who doesn’t like a cookie?”
Each batch of cookies is handcrafted from Gina Celli herself and, as her daughter said, made with love. What really makes the business standout is not just the quality of the product, but the environment associated now that there is a storefront.
Kacie Celli said the store is designed to have a comfortable and bright feeling so people can feel at home and while enjoying a cookie with friends. Most of the furniture and decorations have been refurbished to create a unique space.
But the anticipation for the physical location grew over the past year as the business waited for the space to finish renovations. During that time, Gina Celli was baking out of the kitchen in the location but it wasn’t ready for customers to sit down and enjoy the treats.
Now that the space is ready for customers, Gina Celli has expanded her business to include coffee from La Columbe to give the space a cafe feel.
Gina Celli does the baking right in the front of the store, with trays of cookies surrounding her and a good view of her seating area. This is where she takes organic, high-quality ingredients to craft not just a cookie but an experience.
“It’s so simple and basic, but [cookies] make people happy,” she said. “And that’s what makes my inspiration to come in and do it right every day.”
“Really it’s all about the cookies and they speak to themselves and the experience we want to create for people,” Kacie Celli added.
Customers can choose from a variety of cookies from the classic chocolate chip to Italian wedding cookies. The business doesn’t have a set opening date, but the family hopes to open its doors to customers by the second week of April.
Until then, customers can buy Gina Celli’s cookies online.
“We want to be a place in our community where people say they want to come because it just makes them happy,” she said.