When Christina Davis approached her husband, Miles Davis, Jr., five years ago with the idea to start a gourmet cookie business, he had one thought:
"People buy cookies?"
Five years later, the couple is giving their online store, Davis Cookie Collection, a brick-and-mortar home in Bond Hill as part of an effort to spur development along the Reading Road business district.
When asked why they chose Bond Hill, the answer was simple:
"We built our business in this city," Miles Davis, Jr. said. "So we want to stay in the city."
The Davises were also partial beneficiaries of a $5 million grant bestowed on the Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, also known as The Port. The Port's purpose is to implement redevelopment on and near the riverfront.
The money is part of a program called the Dream Fund through the Kresge Foundation.
"What we do is lend money to developers and property owners or real estate owners," said Mike Smith, vice president of commercial development for the Port. "With the Davises we are actually the developer. So, we're lending that money to ourselves. We will use that money to outfit this particular space."
The Port has redeveloped 5,500 square feet of business space that is divided into four business units available to be leased. The Davis Cookie Collection is the first to move in, with about 1,100 square feet of space.
"This is exactly what our vision was," Smith said. "We wanted to get a neighborhood-servicing business that would contribute to the vibrancy and bring back good density for the neighborhood."
Which is exactly what the neighborhood was hoping for with the Bond Hill-Roselawn plan, which the two neighborhoods created with a primary goal of revitalizing the Reading Road corridor in the Bond Hill and Roselawn neighborhoods.
"They wanted to see vitality that is a vibrant, walkable community," said Joyce Powdrill, executive director of the Bond Hill-Roselawn Collaborative. "So, having Davis Cookies here is just a catalyst to do that."
The entire Reading Road corridor in Bond Hill and Roselawn stretches from Tennessee Avenue passed Summit Road. Powdrill said the idea is to get residents out of their homes with the attraction of businesses and mixed development.
"Now, this (Davis Cookie Collection) becomes a place where people can meet up and share and have small group meetings," Powdrill said.
Meanwhile, the Davises are excited about bringing their cookies to more customers. In addition to online orders, their cookies are currently available through Conscious Kitchen in Clifton, Jungle Jim's in Fairfield and Sunny Blu Coffee House in Camp Washington.
As their business gets ready to expand to Bond Hill, Miles Davis, Jr. said the couple's goal is to become an integral part of Bond Hill and give back to the community.
"I like the fact that when we give somebody a cookie, it puts a smile on their face," Miles Davis, Jr. said. "And, that might not be your best day."
The couple has grown their business from baking cookies in their kitchen by the dozens, to baking cookies at the Findlay Kitchen by the hundreds.
Christina Davis started baking cookies while she was a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati studying social work. She baked as a way to calm her anxiety during exam week.
"The real turning point was when a gentleman from my workplace offered to pay me $15 for a dozen cookies," she said.
She went on to become a social worker. Miles Davis, Jr. is a firefighter. They also have two children, but somehow find time for the cookie business, where they have 30 flavors, ranging from lemon to chocolate chip to red velvet.
Christina Davis is a Mortar Cincinnati graduate and thought it would be years before they could have a physical business location, which should be operational by the end of the year.
"If we didn't have the Port involved in providing this opportunity, it probably would have been four or five more years," she said.