Kirkwood's 'Cookie-Man' Sets Deeper Roots in the Community
With his purchase of Majic Market, Keith "Cookie-Man" Willis tightens his ties to the community where he's lived for 30 years.
Keith Willis has three children. Two of them, he calls traitors. The sons have moved to Webster Groves and Kansas City ("to chase a female") and as such, they're the traitors. His daughter is still in Kirkwood, like Keith and his wife, Paula, who have lived there for 30 years.
Willis deepened those roots in December when he and his wife Paula purchased Majic Market, the longtime deli and convenience store in the community.
After years working in an area bank, Willis ended up losing his job nine years ago in a restructuring. At the prodding of Paula, he went into business for himself, harnessing his love for cooking into a successful catering business called The Everyday Gourmet.
His wife worked for a pharmaceutical sales company and told him "we have lunches brought in three or four days a week for sales reps," Willis said. "I thought, 'How hard could it be? I love to cook.' It was a lot harder than I thought."
But the business flourished. And through that business, Willis found himself developing a cookie recipe that his clients seemed to love. Once, he made several kinds of cookies, but now limits them to just chocolate chip.
Now, he sells them to area retailers and from his newly purchased Majic Market, the 40-year-old institution he took over in December. Plus, Willis sells his cookies at a discount to students at Kirkwood High and Lift for Life Academy; those organizations use them as fundraisers.
Part of his motivation for buying Majic Market was the possibility of adding cookie-baking capacity. His existing kitchen has an oven that let's him bake only 40 in a batch, or about 400 cookies a day. His plans for adding a cookie oven to Majic Market mean he'll be able to increase capacity six-fold.
He says the plan is working so far. Sales are up at at the market in the first month and a half—thanks to the good staff that already works there.
"I could count on them to do what they do well," he said. "I could come in there and start making cookies and add something to the business."