Leslie Stockard’s Classic Cookie retirement turns out to be a mere pit stop

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Back in March, Leslie Stockard sold her business, the Classic Cookie, to former McLain’s Bakery owner Don Peattie. Recently, however, she once again took over the restaurant. This, she says, isn’t a failed deal.

The past eight months count instead as the best vacation she has ever had — one that was a long time coming.

Stockard purchased the Classic Cookie (409 West Gregory Boulevard) in 1998, and for most of the nearly two decades since, she says, she was up each morning at 4. She rarely took more than a week away from the café and bakery business — and raised four children as a single mother.

With the kids grown, she decided it was time for her own graduation. “I was burned out,” Stockard says.

“It’s not an easy job, running a restaurant for 17 years,” she explains. “The drama — employees not showing up for work, machinery breaking down — really took a toll on me after so many years. When Don Peattie offered to buy the business, I was ready. Or, at least, I thought I was ready.”

She didn’t hesitate to, as she puts it, recharge her batteries: “I was able to sleep late; to travel to see my children in Cincinnati and Orlando; to see family in Phoenix, Indiana, Chicago and Omaha; and to drive to several NASCAR races — I’m a huge fan.”

Stockard was no longer burned out. Peattie, meanwhile, found that the Classic Cookie wasn’t for him. 

“Things didn’t really work out the way I thought it would,” Stockard says. “Don had a change of heart about buying the business, so I took it back. I announced the news on the Classic Cookie Facebook page on November 6 that I was taking the restaurant back over. The outpouring has been very positive and very excited. And I’m honestly ready and excited to start over again. Now that I have it back, I don’t think I’ll sell it again. But that could change. If someone offered me a million dollars cash, I would in a heartbeat.”

Until that million arrives, Stockard is back to her old 4 a.m. schedule — and, when she has gotten used to it again, a grand reopening on Friday, November 27. (She may try a soft opening a little ahead of that day, she tells me.) This time, though, there’s family help on the way: Stockard’s eldest daughter, Rachael Redler, is joining her mother in the restaurant as the front-of-the-house manager. And sister-in-law Kathy Stockard is also coming aboard.

“My family has been working every day, helping me to get the restaurant open,” Leslie Stockard says. “My 85-year-old mother has been rolling up silverware since I took the place back over.”

In the meantime, the dining room and the kitchen are being repainted, and Stockard has begun planning a reintroduction of Classic Cookie’s baked goods (which took a sabbatical under the Peattie regime). Stockard’s longtime cookie baker, Donald Petre, is making dough again.

Not every kind, though.

“I’m doing away with the decorated sugar cookies,” Stockard says. “They were just too labor-intensive. But we’re bringing back the chocolate-chip cookies, the snickerdoodles, the chocolate-peanut-butter chip and the oatmeal scotchies.”

Stockard has decided to discontinue daily specials but plans to add four of the Classic Cookie’s most popular specials to the regular menu: the corned-beef hash, the “painted porch pancakes” (potato-cornmeal flapjacks), fresh egg salad, and a breakfast burrito.

And, yes, the basket is coming back, too.

That Classic Cookie staple, the small basket of muffins and cookies that greeted each lunch party’s table, makes its return when the restaurant reopens. In fact, on November 27 — and only that day — even breakfast patrons get the basket treatment.

“It will be a celebration for all of us,” Stockard says. “I’m expecting that will be a very, very busy day for us.”

Categories: Dining, News