This is no half-baked business concept.
What Zohal Azimi Raja started as a pandemic baking pastime inside the kitchen of her Hicksville home has now bubbled into Thin Cookies’ first retail outlet.
“When we did a small business at home, I just thought it would be a small business,” she said. “Once it started getting bigger and the wholesale picked up, I started thinking of brick and mortar.”
The November opening of a storefront and bakery at 425 Jerusalem Ave. in Hicksville is the latest milestone for Thin Cookies, whose soft and chewy products are also sold at more than 30 shops across Long Island and in New York City.
How it started
The business is the outgrowth of a lifelong passion for baking that was shaped by her dad, who runs an Afghan bakery in Queens.
“It’s just in my blood, I was always around it,” Raja said. “I grew up with three sisters and I was the baker.”
She put those baking genes to use while working from home in the early stages of the pandemic with husband, Yoseph — and then took him up on the idea to find a bigger audience for cookies that stand out for their lack of crispiness.
“I was like all right, challenge accepted,” Raja said. “And he was like, ‘These are so good, let’s start selling them.”
The response from customers of family friends in the food business was enough that in May 2021, she left her job as a graphic designer for a pharmaceutical skincare company to focus full time on Thin Cookies.
The couple grew the business to the point that it moved into a commercial incubator in Long Island City, Queens, after the Hicksville home was no longer a fit.
“I was using two ovens, going up and down,” said Raja, 27, and a mother of an 11-month-old. “I was making multiple trays, hundreds of cookies a day, thousands of cookies a week.”
The cookies were also a hit at weekend pop-ups at Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove and Broadway Mall in Hicksville.
Thin Cookies draws some inspiration from Tate’s Bake Shop — but unlike the thin and crispy cookies sold by the Southampton cookie colossus, Raja keeps them soft and chewy.
“My husband was my taste-tester,” she said of Yoseph, 28, who works as a pharmacist.
If you go
One thing that has not changed much since Raja’s days of baking at home during the pandemic is the menu. The Hicksville store offers three variations of crispy delights — chocolate chip, double chocolate chip and snickerdoodle cookies — with more flavors planned for the future.
Six cookies sell for $7, with a dozen going for $13 and two dozen for $25.
“The response has been great, it’s been super busy,” she said. “A lot of people are getting to know us.”
While Raja said she doesn’t miss her old 9-to-5 job — “I just felt like I wasn’t growing,” she said — her graphic design skills have come in handy in designing the look and website of Thin Cookies, which maintains a very active social media presence on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.
“This is something I enjoy and I love to make people happy,” she said. “It’s this great package deal.”
Thin Cookies is located at 425 Jerusalem Ave. in Hicksville and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.