Aviator Cookie Company is clear for takeoff

Chris Welch’s head may be in the clouds, but his feet are grounded in Midland.

Welch, the 14th pilot in his family, is opening Aviator Cookie Company this Saturday, March 20. Since the pandemic grounded the international routes he typically flies, Welch was looking for something else to do. His daughter suggested a cookie store.

“I’m in sort of uncharted territory,” says Welch.

Aviator Cookie Company is open for business this Saturday, March 20 from noon-5 p.m.Welch was born in Midland, later moving for college to earn a marketing degree as a back-up option. He already knew how to fly.

“My dad taught me how to fly. On my sixteenth birthday, before I had a driver’s license, I went out and flew by myself,” says Welch. He learned at the Midland Barstow Airport.

Unfortunately, his first job started right around the 9/11 terror attacks. Furloughed, Welch took a job in Kansas.

“That Christmas, my mom got me a Betty Crocker cookbook. I knew nobody down there and I didn’t fly very often, so I just baked,” says Welch.

That’s when he started making his infamous Triple Chocolate Chip cookies. He didn’t like how the first one turned out, so he tinkered with the recipe.

“I like just starting with a bunch of ingredients. At the same time, I was brewing my own beer, putting my own brakes on my car. I just had a lot of spare time and I like making things with my hands,” says Welch. “I like learning what the different ingredients do and creating something that people will like.”

Welch is aiming to rotate a total of 30 cookie flavors. On any given day, he plans to have 8-10 staple cookies like chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin. There will be four specialty flavors that rotate every two weeks.

Welch considers his cookies ‘affordable gourmet.’ His goal was to make the cookies a good value while maintaining high quality; he uses real butter and no preservatives.
Since he’s still employed as a pilot, once international flights see more demand he’ll be gone for up to 12 days scattered throughout the month. Luckily, Welch has a first-class crew. The assistant manager, his sister Heather Welch, will run the store while he’s gone. 

Chris Welch is able to prep raw dough for three different kinds of cookies a day, which comes out to about 600-700 cookies.

“Cookie dough responds really well to a freezer. I’ve tested them as long as three months and you can’t tell a difference,” says Welch.

Cookies will be baked fresh, twice daily. So the store always has a freshly-baked-cookie smell.

“If it looks like we’re running out, we can just go to the freezer and have some ready within 20 minutes,” says Welch. 

Welch is considering a wholesale option where he sells day-old cookies to retailers. He says he’s tasted them up to five days and can’t tell the difference. He’s also looking into donating the day’s leftovers to local shelters and food banks.

His sister isn’t the only one who helps him with the business. 

Welch’s two children, Abby and Connor, inspire many elements of Aviator Cookie Company. In addition to the cookies, Welch will soon sell cookie decorating kits. The kits will include airplane-shaped cookies, frosting, sprinkles, and a toy.Abby, 9, and Connor, 11, have both made significant contributions. Connor inspired the Aviator Cookie Company logo and Abby came up with the whole idea to start a cookie bakery. They’ll both get to pick out ingredients to plan their own cookie creations too. Besides promotion — because what kid wouldn’t brag about their dad running a cookie shop — Connor and Abby will be helping on opening day.

“They’ll be part of the opening day festivities, handing out samples,” says Welch.

Aviator Cookie Company is cleared for liftoff this Saturday, March 20 from noon-5 p.m. They’re located at 230 E. Main St., between Heather & Holly and Pizza Baker. 

“For my business model, it had to be downtown. … I think what I’m serving is just a perfect fit to grab a cookie and go down to the Tridge,” says Welch.

Also happening downtown on March 20 is Meet Your Merchants, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. If you buy a cookie from Aviator Cookie Company that day, you’ll get a coupon for a free cookie, redeemable in April. Follow Aviator Cookie Company on Facebook for updates.

Read more articles by Crystal Gwizdala.

Crystal Gwizdala grew up in the Tri-Cities and enjoys broadcasting all the positive change happening in Midland. As Assistant Editor for Catalyst Midland, her favorite topics are environment, wellness, mental health, and the arts. As a human, Crystal is a serial hobbyist: hiking, drawing, yoga, and playing music. Her work can be seen in The Detroit Free Press, Midland Daily News, and The Delta Collegiate. To see what Crystal’s up to, you can follow her on Twitter @CrystalGwizdala.
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