HUNDREDS LINE UP FOR A FINAL TASTE OF COOKIE LADY’S CREATIONS
Well-wishers and sweet tooths flock to the Santa Fe Cookie Co. on the 16th Street Mall to honor Debbie Kuehn, Denver’s beloved Cookie Lady, who died last month.
The smell of freshly baked cookies wafted through the 16th Street Mall on Monday as a crowd of wellwishers and sweet tooths flocked to the Santa Fe Cookie Co. to honor Debbie Kuehn, Denver’s beloved Cookie Lady, who died last month.
People came by the dozens, alone and in groups, from their downtown offices and across town, to taste one last cookie and pay their respects to a woman who provided warmth and comfort to any and all who entered her store. Some brought flowers, others left notes, and many left the shop with armfuls of cookies for co-workers and family members.
“Denver will not be the same,” said one woman leaving the shop. “Where are we going to get our cookie fix now?”
Kuehn died June 28 at the age of 57, leaving hundreds of customers bereft and shocked at her sudden absence from Republic Plaza on the 16th Street Mall, where her three-for-adollar cookies were legendary. But the beloved baker left behind one last sweet treat for the community that adored her: a walk-in freezer stocked with cookie dough. Kuehn’s family reopened the shop Monday to give away all the cookies that Debbie’s remaining dough could offer.
Kuehn’s sister, niece and nephew were hard at work as the event kicked off, bustling between the freezer and ovens, bagging cookie after cookie as the never-ending line of the Cookie Lady’s admirers grew longer and longer.
“Share the cookies, share the love,” said Kuehn’s sister, Bambi Forbes, as crowds filed in the door one-by-one to grab chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal raisin cookies and more. “It’s what Debbie would have done.”
The line was out the door, up the stairs and down the street by the 10 a.m. start time, and by 10:05 the donation jugs for Kuehn’s favorite charities were filled to the brim. By 10:30 a.m., the line reached all the way down the block.
“This is something I looked forward to every time I was off work,” said Victoria Jercinovic, who was among the first to arrive and picked
up a “space chip” cookie for her husband. “This was a staple of our lives.”
Some reminisced on being taken to the Cookie Lady their first day on a new job in downtown. Others recalled relying on a cookie fix to survive a particularly long day in the office.
“It was kind of a joke in our office, if you’re having a bad day go get some cookies,” Staci Berry said. “It’s going to be a big hole in Republic Plaza.”
Kuehn was endlessly curious about the regulars who came to her shop, and remained committed to serving cookies to the community even as she grew ill. Despite undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor, she reopened in May, wanting to return to her customers and her work. Three weeks later, when the tumors came back, she closed shop again.
“I never knew what was going on with her because she was more interested in your kids and your life,” said Lee Hallock, who dropped off a card for Kuehn from his daughter. “She was a great artist, she was really dedicated to her craft. It’s amazing the number of people that knew about her and the business.”
Donations left for Kuehn will benefit Colorado Public Radio, the Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue and the Denver Police Department’s Mounted Patrol.
Kuehn’s niece, Alexis McLean, who has worked for the company on and off for the past 10 years, said the family is hoping to keep the cookie company alive.
“It’s a family business,” McLean said. “When I was a little girl I would go down and visit her with my mom and put the fork pattern in the peanut butter cookies.”
By 2 p.m., McLean was handing out the last of the cookies as people continued to stream in and out. The family gave away thousands of cookies in a little over four hours. Chris Guerrero, who works in the area, scored one of the last cookies: an oatmeal cranberry.
“She was all of this,” Kuehn’s sister Bambi said, gesturing around the shop. “It took three of us today to honor her and honor Denver.”
Alexis McLean bakes the cookies her aunt, Debbie Kuehn, served with love at the Santa Fe Cookie Co. at Republic Plaza on the 16th Street Mall. Kuehn, 57, died last month. “Denver will not be the same,” said a woman leaving the store Monday.
Santa Fe Cookie Co. attracted a long line of admirers Monday.
Customers got one last chance to taste Debbie Kuehn’s unforgettable cookies Monday, when her niece baked her recipes for the last time.