Then you’re definitely going to LOVE Gideon’s Bakehouse when they open their new location in Disney Springs later in 2020. Recently, we got the chance to talk with Steve Lewis, the owner of Gideon’s Bakehouse, to learn more about the Disney Springs store — and now we’re even MORE excited for this spot to open!
Lots of news about Gideon’s Disney Springs location has come out recently, including the fact that we can expect to find more unique items made by local artists when we visit.
We also visited Gideon’s current location in Orlando for a very scientific taste test of those larger than life cookies. Spoiler alert: they were DELICIOUS as always!
Not too long ago, we got the chance to speak with Steve Lewis, the founder and owner of Gideon’s. In case you’re wondering how seriously they take their cookies, Lewis’ title is “Owner and Sublime Prince of the Esoteric Order of Cookie.” So let’s see how His Royal Majesty answered our queries!
Check out our full interview with Steve Lewis below:
DFB: Huge demand for limited supply has been a definitive characteristic for Gideon’s Bakehouse. Do you anticipate sold-out stock and lines around the “block” at the new Disney Springs location? Will supply and demand be an issue, and will guests need to plan to arrive bright and early to score a purchase? Or will the bakery cases be refilled all day?
SL: You’re starting things off with the biggest and most challenging question! Our history does undoubtedly set an expectation for lines, and supply and demand constraints have always been the outcome of the crowds. However, we’ve learned a great deal from our tiny East End Market location. Our location at Disney Springs has been designed to handle a higher volume, so our intention is not to sell out of our core products, the Cookies available every day of the year. On the other hand, the limited items will be first come first serve, and we will have timed-release desserts each day. If you’re craving an Original Chocolate Chip or Pistachio Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie, we’ve got you covered from open to close, but, for example, if you want that Coffee Cake Cookie, you’ll want to visit us in the morning. If you need a Hot Cookie with Ice Cream, we’ll see you at night. And, of course, those who follow our social media know that we drop loads of secret goodies that will bring a bonus level of dessert for those who are paying attention.
DFB: We know we’re going to get addicted to cakes, cookies, ice cream, and more, but can you give us a little further insight into any exclusive-to-Disney-Springs menu items, or any new recipes you’re playing with?
SL: I’m always playing with new items. I’m legit sitting here with a stomachache from fiddling with cookies baked in freshly made waffle cones! We toy with such things as limited edition releases. Overall, I like to keep it simple. You won’t walk into Gideon’s and get overwhelmed with choices. We never have more than 7 Cookies available at one time. There will be a limit per person, like we currently offer, which will, at least, allow everyone to get one of each flavor. We rotate through cake flavors, offering 2 or 3 options daily. We will be adding a few iced coffee creations, exclusively for our Disney Springs location. We’ll start with a few flavors, including that Peanut Butter Iced Coffee, and expand our line in the new year. Our limited items will be randomly released and will always be first come first serve. Limited releases are a way to keep things entertaining for both guests and our bakers, letting them experiment and be creative with new recipes and ideas. Not to mention, we’ve got a superstar executive Pastry Chef on staff with Chef Kristy Carlucci. Bottom line, there will be countless exclusive items but those items are not methodically planned, just sparks of creativity. If there’s ever a bakery to follow on social media, it’s Gideon’s Bakehouse. We often get tagged with #ifyouknowyouknow, and the only way to know is to follow our adventures.
DFB: Will you have an on-site kitchen in Disney Springs?
SL: Our space is outfitted with the best cookie ovens on the planet to fresh bake perfect cookies throughout our day. Since our dough is made entirely from scratch by an army of local hands, we will be preparing our dough offsite. Both our cookies and cakes take over 24 hours to prepare, so this is the only way to do it without cutting corners, which I refuse to do.
DFB: What is the scariest part for you about opening a storefront in Disney World?
SL: I could answer this question differently based on the challenge of the day. At the core, I think, the big and scary is the epic level of exposure. I’m very excited to be representing the creative local food scene in Central Florida. I know that trying local food is part of what it means to travel these days, and I’m honored to be a part of that experience. However, this is a very personal product for me. I spent over 15 years tinkering with this recipe. There is so much history and emotion in those Cookies. Putting myself out there opens the door for criticism and, in all honesty, I take it very personally. I know I have to toughen up. We live in a love/hate world right now, but my team and I are doing our best to create something special, and we all hope that everyone enjoys and remembers their experience at Gideon’s.
DFB: What has been the most difficult obstacle in opening a storefront in Disney World?
SL: I think the only real obstacle was making this happen in the first place. I’m just a man with a cookie and a small hard-working team. I don’t have partners or investors, and going from a little 286 square foot bakery to Disney is the biggest thing I’ll ever do. With that said, I’ve been extremely fortunate on this journey. The team at Disney Springs has been such a supportive resource. Yes, Disney is an enormous international brand, but the people behind it are our neighbors in this community. They were waiting in line at Gideon’s like everyone else, and they worked hard, internally, to support us and make the magic happen. Along the way, I was fortunate to meet some great people with experience in business at Disney. They helped guide me, and some even joined my team. Having people on staff that have worked on the property for years has removed the learning curve and allowed me to focus on creativity.
DFB: What has been the most exciting surprise about opening a storefront in Disney World?
SL: I’m a tactical planner, and I progress in life more slowly than most but defined in purpose. I don’t surprise very easily. But there have been little surprises and joys along the way. The biggest for me is how many relationships I’ve made that I know I will have for a lifetime. I’m a fairly private introverted personality who doesn’t connect with others easily, but in a very short time, a real family is emerging at Gideon’s. There is no ego here. We all care about every person involved and are committed to seeing each other grow both personally and professionally. I have a feeling the creativity that grows from this opportunity will be extensive.
DFB: Sometimes small-batch brands, especially one as eclectic and dynamic as Gideon’s, have difficulty transitioning to larger scale operations. This can be seen both with production scale and maintaining the “personality” of the smaller brand. What have you been doing to modify operations to meet product demand and maintain brand perception in Disney Springs?
SL: This question is the concern that is at the forefront of every single step. Every Cookie might be someone’s first, and it has to be special. The Cookie must be baked perfectly, be photo-ready, be placed in thoughtful artistic packaging, and delivered with a personal conversation, not a transaction. At its heart, maintaining this is simple, don’t change anything. To make more dough, we hire more people. To be sure that quality doesn’t drop, bring in a superstar like our Executive Pastry Chef, Kristy Carlucci. To enhance our visuals, the celebrated Florida artist Terribly Odd aka Michael Reyes, is a perfect fit and the driving force behind our branding. The operations and guest experience are guided by my most trusted hand, Patrick McKinney, who is no stranger to regular visitors of Disney Springs. We’re comical opposites in appearance, me with my long hair and black clothes, him with his Disney look and polo shirts. I like to hide in the shadows, and he is a social butterfly, but we both care deeply about the experience. I call these three my guardians and have so much love and faith in them all always to do the right thing, and that’s a rare blessing. Because I have such a great leadership team, I get to focus on keeping my brand intimate. Gideon’s isn’t a theme. It’s not a concept created for profit. Gideon’s is a personal journey. If you send a question through our website’s form or DM us on social media, you get a reply from me. I make every single post. If you see a Gideon’s comment on IG or Facebook, it is me. I take every product photo myself. I can’t imagine letting someone else do these things. I think this straightforward and personal relationship between owner and customer is essential, and I have no intention of passing off such things. This is our personality, and it isn’t getting delegated with growth.
DFB: I love the story of how you maintain the secrecy of your recipe! Can you describe it for our readers?
SL: Since the Cookie recipe took me so long to finalize, I’ve remained guarded about it. As a result, no one that has ever worked for Gideon’s (or any other human for that matter) knows the full recipe. To this day, I still do much of it by myself in a dark and secret place. The bakers only need to know how to add basics like eggs and butter to premeasured bags of enchanted secrets. The internet is filled with Gideon’s copycat recipes, and it’s something I celebrate. No one has come close yet, but the quest has spawned some creative and beautiful cookies. Tag me on social media if you play around! I want to see your work!
DFB: What do you think Gideon ended up doing in his life? Do you think he would be proud of his namesake?
SL: For those who don’t know, our name comes from a cookbook I found over a decade ago that had faint handwriting and doodles in the margins. The name scribbled at the back of the book was Gideon, and it was apparent he was a young boy that wanted to be a baker. Gideon’s Bakehouse is a tribute to that creepy little child, embracing a Victorian appearance and listed as being “Established in 1898,” which is the date the cookbook was published. I was briefly obsessed with learning more about the origins of the book and the name. I hunted for proof of Gideon’s name associated with bakeries in the late 1800s to early 1900s with no success. I’d like to think he followed his dream, and I certainly think he’d be proud of what we’ve done in his name because it’s done with love and good intentions. I’m a person who measures success not monetarily but in service to others, and I think we’re supplying a worthy service by fulfilling the dreams of another, even if he is only with us in spirit.
A huge thank you to Steve Lewis for speaking with us. We love the story of Gideon’s Bakehouse, we’ve been fans forever, and we are always amazed by the quality of its products. We can’t wait to enjoy more sweet treats when the new location opens in Disney Springs!
Click here to learn about the new pastry chef that has been brought into the Gideon’s Bakehouse team!
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Are you excited for Gideon’s Bakehouse to open at Disney Springs location? Let us know in the comments!