Home Arts & Culture BizHawk: Cookie Plug Brings Hip Hop, Graffiti Art and Urban Street Culture to Downtown Santa Barbara | Business

BizHawk: Cookie Plug Brings Hip Hop, Graffiti Art and Urban Street Culture to Downtown Santa Barbara | Business

by cashonbank.com
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This place stands out.

Cookie Plug — a corporate blend of hip hop, graffiti art and urban street culture — opened Saturday on State Street in Santa Barbara to a massive response from the public.

The line stretched hundreds of people long, down the block and around the corner, as Ricky’s Famous Tacos, out of Lompoc, cooked on the grill to welcome the patrons. Inside, the DJ spun hip-hop tunes near a wall-size photo of the late great East Coast rap artist The Notorious B.I.G., or Biggie Smalls.

What was the crowd there for? Cookies, and not average-size ones. They are big and “thicc,” with names such as the OG Cookie (chocolate chip), the Good Luv Cookie (red velvet cake cookie) and Santa Barbara City Councilman Oscar Gutierrez’s favorite, the Nutty OG Cookie (chocolate chip walnut cookie).

“I thought the cookies were delicious,” said Gutierrez, who attended the Saturday grand opening. “They are dangerously sweet and addicting.”

The company has exploded in the past three years, with 58 franchisees. Santa Barbara’s owner is Annette Rodriguez, a nurse, who decided to open a Cookie Plug in Santa Barbara, at 918 State St., because her family loved the cookies in Los Angeles.

She wants the Santa Barbara community to discover Cookie Plug and share the love.

“I turned my dream into a reality in Santa Barbara with Cookie Plug,” Rodriguez said. “We are like a family.”

Rodriguez went to Santa Barbara High School and Santa Barbara City College, and later earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Los Angeles. Her mother is Jo Ann Caines, a former principal at La Cumbre Junior High School who died in 2018. Her brother is Doug Caines, a football coach and teacher at Dos Pueblos High School.

The restaurant definitely has an East Coast vibe, with Biggie Smalls on the wall, with lyrics “It Was All a Dream” from one of his hit songs, written on the wall, along with boom boxes, all creating a 1980s street vibe. However, Rodriguez has added her own California flavor on another wall with a mural of the beach and water.

With all the vacant storefronts, Rodriguez is hoping Cookie Plug will attract newcomers to downtown.

“Santa Barbara is a great town,” Rodriguez said. “Downtown I grew up on. I wanted to bring something fun, exciting, that’s good, that people will like. Our cookies are just like nothing else.”

The corporate brand has exploded in the past three years. Rap legend LL Cool J loves the cookies; he’s opening 60 stores of his own this year.

“We’re bringing you a flavor experience that’s not just about cookies; it’s about celebrating the essence of hip-hop culture,” he states on the website.

Councilman Gutierrez noted that Plug is street slang for “dealer,” which adds to the vibe of a place where the treats are addictive.

“It is different than what people are used to,” Gutierrez said. “A lot of locals came out for it. I got a dozen cookies and brought it to my friends for the Super Bowl.”

Other cookies include the Bam Bam Cookie (Fruity Pebbles cookie), Chocolate XTC (triple chocolate cookie) and Pink Elephant Cookie (strawberry cheesecake cookie). Caines also sells mini-cookies and four low-sugar Keto cookies.

Rodriguez has two sons, 22-year-old Taylon Bolden and Jordan Rodriguez.

Cookie Plug is the third company she has started. She said she her family are go-getters who work hard.

“I am all about just making my community stronger,” Rodriguez said. “I took the shoes of my mom and kept them rolling.”

Aperitivo Expanding

Aperitivo is opening a second Santa Barbara location at 413 State St., the former site of Taza Mediterranean Grill.

Its current location is 7 W. Haley St.

Caitlin Hensel, a partner at Hayes Commercial Group, posted on her Instagram page: “Super excited to be able to announce that after months of searching, we found the perfect second location for my friends Andrea & Brian of Aperitivo (aka my second home). They will be more than tripling their square footage to accommodate demand, but fear not, the Haley Street location will remain, just slightly altered to be more of a wine bar.”

The new location will take reservations and focus on pasta, she said.

“These guys are the hardest workers, kindest humans, so much fun to work with, and they also serve one of the best meals in town + of course the off menu spritz,” she wrote.

Silvers Omakase Sushi Opens in Funk Zone

Chef Lennon Silvers Lee has opened Silvers Omakase at 224 Helena Ave. in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.

“Known for his innovative approach to omakase, Chef Lennon Silvers Lee leads a diverse ensemble of culinary artisans dedicated to showcasing their unique combination of Japanese flavors and ingredients every Tuesday through Saturday beginning Feb. 6,” according to an Instagram post.
“Silvers Omakase offers an unforgettable dining experience and celebrates the farmers, fishmongers, potters, glass blowers and more who make restaurants like ours possible. Join us in Santa Barbara’s downtown Funk Zone for a distinctive Japanese tasting menu led by Chef Lennon Silvers Lee and his team.”

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