By Sara Guven
Photos by Karen Askins
Amy Jason never set out to be a cookie connoisseur. But you wouldn’t be able to tell now that she’s been selling cookies with their signature “height,” crispy exterior and gooey inside for 10 years, with a Cookie Fix storefront in Homewood for four years and a new one in Cahaba Heights that opened in November.
Amy’s passion for baking originally came from growing up in a family centered around home-cooked meals. Her mother loved to prepare food as an act of love, but she didn’t prepare sweets very often. So Amy took it upon herself to fill the gap. “I guess I saw a niche early on—there’s something missing here! We need more sweets!” she recollects.
Amy still remembers the moment when she realized how much she enjoyed baking. “I think I was about 10 or 11. It was a boring Friday night, and I had nothing else to do but be at home with my parents,” she says. She prepared an apple turnover recipe out of a Pillsbury Bake Off cookbook bought in the grocery store checkout line, and her parents’ reaction had her hooked. “Oh yeah, this is fun. I’m getting attention from my mom and dad and making them happy,” she remembers thinking. “That was some immediate gratification.”
After graduating from the University of Alabama, Amy and her husband, David, lived in Edgewood before settling in Vestavia in 1990. Baking remained a passion of hers, but finding time to bake while raising their three children was quite difficult. In that time she did find that cookies were the best choice for kids who had no care for elaborate desserts, and that baking them was fulfilling for her too. “I was happy and blessed to be at home, but at the end of the day, I had very little to show for my efforts. At the end of the day, whether it was a clean kitchen or cookies, I just wanted something to know, ‘I did something creative and fun today,’” she explains.
Her children were definitely grateful for their mom’s talent, as were neighbors and friends. “If a friend’s dog died or a child broke their arm, I showed up with cookies in the mailbox,” Amy says. “It was how I loved on people.” Amy soon was baking multiple batches a day and facing so many requests that she couldn’t keep track. Inspired by a magazine article, she decided to start an email list. “It was ten years ago this fall, and I started doing that with a list of 50,” she says. “By the time I finished doing that at home, my email list had grown to about 750 families.”
With clear demand, friends and acquaintances started encouraging her to open a business. But Amy wasn’t sure. It took a chance encounter with a friend to push her over the edge. “I ran into David Maluff, who owns Full Moon, at the Vestavia High School gym for a wrestling tournament. We just brushed past each other, very quickly, and he looked at me and said, ‘I’m disappointed with you.’” Confused, she asked him what he meant. David told her that she had everything she needed for a successful business, and that he would even help her if she wanted. “He said, ‘What are you waiting on?’ And that was truly a pivotal moment,” Amy recalls.
And so after some searching, Amy found the perfect spot for the original Cookie Fix location in downtown Homewood four years ago, and the rest is history.
But even before Amy sent her first email, her family could tell what she needed to do too. One day when she was taking her youngest child, John, to Vestavia East, she saw a little house nearby with “For Lease- Commercial” sign and told him it would be a cute place for Lil’ Sack of Sugar, her original name for her cookie concept. “I think he was 7 at the time, and he said, ‘Mom, it’s time for you to stop talking about it and time to do it,’” Amy recalls with a laugh.
Family has stayed at the heart of Cookie Fix too. Six months in, her husband, David, left his career to work full time with the business. Her daughter, who shares her mother’s passion for baking, loves to help her develop new recipes, and both of her sons have worked in the business as well. Most importantly, her children are her number one taste testers. “They’re very honest. They’ve had more cookies than anybody in Birmingham,” she says with a laugh.
For Amy Cookie Fix is much more than just a business too. It’s brought her closer to the Birmingham community and taught her a lot about human nature. Even amidst all the baking, Amy strives to connect with those who come into the store and take the time to ask about their day and what they’re up to. Relating to her customers and learning their stories is her favorite part of the business, and she has collected plenty of stories along the way.
“We see people parked right outside, they’ve got on their bracelets from the hospital, and the husband rushes in, and they’re like. ‘We just had our baby! We just left St. Vincent’s and y’all are the first stop!’ We hear it all the time,” Amy recounts.
She goes on to describe the story of another customer’s journey. “We have been one young man’s last stop, and he knew it. He had pediatric cancer, and he made it to his 20s. Cookie Fix was his favorite spot. It’s what cheered him up and made him feel good,” an honor not at all lost on her.
Reflecting on the difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic brought, Amy tears up thinking about how much support the community provided. “It was such a hard time for everyone, such fear and anxiety in the unknown for everybody,” she says. “But when (customers) came to get their cookies and we could greet them and love on them, that got to stay constant. We did not close one day. Our customers were amazing. They were generous, they were appreciative, they were patient. I don’t think it could have been any better.”
Cookies can provide community, communicate love and bring joy to any situation, a fact Amy can testify to firsthand. “We just hear amazing stories of how people are sharing themselves, loving on others, spreading the Cookie Fix word,” she says. “When I marvel at the line out the door and down the sidewalk, I simply say, ‘It’s all God because it’s just cookies!’”
Cookie Fix’s Cahaba Heights location is located at 3152 Heights Village and is open Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Learn more at cookiefix.com.
Cookie Fix’s flavors vary by day and are posted online. Here’s a list of flavors they offer in addition to cookie cakes and cookie dough you can bake at home.
- Brookie Bar
- Brown Sugar Blondie
- Chocolate Chip
- Cookie Cake Slices
- Cookies & Cream
- First Date
- Healthy Peanut Butter
- M&M Chocolate Chip
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk
- Oatmeal Toffee
- Opposites Attract
- Peanut Butter
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk
- Peanut Butter Cup
- Peanut Butter Smores Please
- Plain Jane
- Red Velvet
- Salted Caramel Toffee
- Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel
- Triple Chocolate Chunk
- White Trash