fbpx
Skip to content

WDW Radio # 715 – Gideon’s in Disney Springs: Its History, Mystery, and Magic – Interview with Founder Steve Lewis

Gideon’s Bakehouse in Disney Springs is nothing short of a phenomenon, with wait times and lines that rival Disney’s biggest E-Ticket attractions, and delicious cookies that justify those waits. This week, I sit down with Steve Lewis, the founder (and mad scientist) behind Gideon’s to discuss its origins, journey, stories, recipes, and more!

Thanks to Steve Lewis from Gideon’s for joining me this week! Find Steve and Gideon’s on Instagram and gideonsbakehouse.com

Have you ever been to Gideon’s in Disney Springs. What is your favorite cookie? Share your thoughts in the WDW Radio Clubhouse at WDWRadio.com/Clubhouse, or call the voicemail at 407-900-9391 (WDW1) and share your story on the show.

Comment and share your questions, thoughts, and tips in our WDW Radio Clubhouse Community on Facebook or call the Voicemail and be heard “On the Air” at 407-900-9391

Listen to this week’s show and use the form below to enter our weekly trivia contest for a chance to WIN a Disney Prize Package!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name
Street, City, State, Zip Code

Book your trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Destination… or anywhere through our friends at Mouse Fan Travel. Contact them for a free, no-obligation quote!



Click Here To Read The Full Podcast Episode Transcript

One of the most remarkable recent additions to Disney Springs and actually Walt Disney World as a whole did not come in the form of a new rollercoaster stage show or incredible piece of technology. Instead, it came from a cookie and born from the visions and dreams and kitchen of one man, Gideon's Bake House.

This massive, delicious, salty, and sweet and genius creations are truly the stuff of legends. Dare I say, a literal phenomen. And if you don't believe me, just look at the line that forms every single morning, 365 days a year. Or if you really wanna be convinced, just try one. Or better yet, join me today as a sit down with someone who is a creative culinary, dare I say visionary, the founder of Gideons, Steve Lewis,

as you're saying this, I'm laughing and I'm sorry, I, I'm thinking all of that's about this dumb dumb right here.

You're talking about me. Uh, it's, it's really weird to hear that, but thank you. It's a pleasure to be here with you. Every

part of it's true. And your, your story and the story of Gideons is incredibly fascinating. Um, and we are actually recording together in person, which I love. Above the very first Gideons.

We will get to that. Um, but I want to set the, the stage. Um, the recurring theme today is gonna be all about story. We are both comic book people. We'll get to that too. So give me your origin story. Tell me about young Steve Lewis, the little kid. With big dreams, the musician, the comic book guy, and, uh, and the beginning of your story, your, your, your journey.

A little baby Steve. He's such a precious little creature. Uh, a as my story goes, when I was little, I had three goals in life. I wanted to be a musician, I wanted to own a comic shop, and I wanted to train a great white shark . Uh, and, uh, and I'm, I'm very fortunate to say that I've accomplished two of those things.

Uh, I, I started, uh, my music life when I was seven or eight years old, I started getting trained in, you know, guitar, piano. I'm actually a vocal music major. Um, and I started working professionally in music at 15. Uh, writing and recording music, uh, doing, uh, shows, doing some touring, uh, having a good time learning that that world.

I, I, I grew up really fast when I was young. Uh, I graduated, uh, Uh, school early. I had my first apartment as a young teenager. You know, I'm, I've had a interesting life. And where was home? Where'd you grow up? I'm originally from Staten Island, but I've been here in Orlando now for over 20 years. Someone just asked me today when I moved to Orlando and I'm had to start clicking back and, and my rusty brain.

Uh, but I've been here for about 20, 25 years now. 20, 24 years.

So you did the music thing. You did the. Thing You owned Uber Bot

in Winter Park? Yeah, I, I, I, I had a botch surgery on my hand, so I was kind of forced to retire from music. Uh, so, uh, so yeah, I moved to Orlando to open up what was meant to be a comic shop called Uber Bot.

That ended up being this really interesting, in my opinion, way ahead of its day pop culture art gallery that specialized in designer toys, comics, uh, it wasn't your typical comic shop and that we didn't. All these old back issues and stuff on the floor and posters taped in the window. It was all presented in a very gallery fashion.

And I would do things like invite a lot of my favorite comic artists to come and do art shows, but I wanted them to express who they were as artists, not draw Spider-Man, Batman, uh, and no one had ever asked comic artists to do that. Uh, at that stage. Now comic artists are seen as actual artists, which is as it should be.

But it was a little bit harder to convince people, cuz in the early two thousands when I started doing this, comics were n seen as, you know, nerd things, you know, for kids. And here I was in a pretty high end part of Winter Park, the Winter Park Village, trying to get, you know, 50 plus year olds to, to read comics.

And it worked. Uh, I would get people to read some of the more mature like vertigo labels and, you know, comics like, uh, preacher and Fables. And, uh, it was a lot of fun. I was really proud of it. I, I, I miss it. And in a lot of ways, Gideons to me is Uber bot. Uh, it's, I I think of gettings as more of an art gallery than, than a bakery.

Uh, so there's been a lot of ups and downs in, in life as there is with every human being. It's the human condition. Uh, but when I look at it, and I think all the dots connected perfectly to. To create the, no pun intended, perfect recipe for, for my life. Uh, I really enjoy what I do. I'm very passionate about my days.

Well, you, you seem to want to not just create a thing, you want to create experiences, right? Uber bot was more of an experiential event space than it was a place just to go and pick up, you know, your comics that came in that Tuesday.

Yeah. One of the biggest questions that I get is, why don't you ship your cookies?

And, uh, or Uber Eats. And what's, there's no experience to having cookies dropped off at your front door. It's a, it's more than just the desserts. It's the immersion of the physical space here at the Eastern market. It's the eastern market itself and enjoying the ecosystem of a local community at Gideons and Disney Springs.

It's self-contained. You don't know what's behind that door to walk through and it transports you into another place. That's a part of it. But then there's also the community of Gideons Bake House. My, my team are wonderful people. I still do all the hiring myself. And an interview with me is funny cuz it's a, you know, 90 minutes talking about comics and talking about, you know, the last episode of the Last of us.

And what nation would you be at Avatar The last, you know, at Avatar of the last Airbender? Uh, I, I like to hire people that like to, that understand what it means to build a sense of community. And can just talk to you about you. I don't need them to talk about Gideons. Gideons is taken care of.

You hire for culture and community cuz you can teach anybody how to sort of serve the cookies and, and whatnot.

But you, you're hiring a specific, much like Disney, you're hiring a specific type of person to sort of represent the you

and the brand. Yeah. I wanna hire people and work with people that have passion. I don't care what that passion's about. I want them to be excited to talk to me about something that they love.

Uh, and, you know, bonus if it aligns with the things that I like. You know, the only, uh, uh, I, I joke the only thing I don't want you talking about at Gideons is sports. I know name about sports. Every time I hear it I'm like, ugh. Yeah. Unless it's quidditch. You can talk about Quidditch. .

So let's talk about the, the journey to Gideons.

And again, starting, you know, way back at the beginning because the journey from beginning to opening the doors were wasn't even really a door at Eastern Market. Was a very long one. Talk to me about how the recovering musician, comic book guy starts going into the kitchen to start baking, because it was really like more of almost a, an escape for you, right?

Sure. You'll notice I, I, I told you that my childhood goals didn't include baking. Uh, but when I was. Around 10 years old, I was just talking to a customer about this. Uh, I, I, I would go to like the buffets with my family and I, I always thought I was gonna be some great mastermind that would combine the junket a buffet to create some super, uh, you know, e e explosion of flavor that no one's ever experienced before.

Uh, and that kind of mentality, that med scientist, uh, child mentality found its way into the kitchen. And I, I actually found baking and experimenting to be my stress. Uh, so the first thing that I created when I was 10 years old, I think was a banana bread, chocolate chip muffin. Nothing too spectacular. It was just a Pillsbury mix with chocolate chips in it.

And I thought I was genius cuz I added chocolate chips. Uh, and to today we have a banana breaded chocolate chip cookie that is a tribute to that 10 year old me and one of my favorite, uh, cookies because it speaks to, you know, we're all very protective of our 10 year old selves. Uh, it's a very sentimental cookie for me, but, uh, I started working on the chocolate chip cookie as a young teen and.

I tinkered with it for 15 years. It was never in my mind to open up a bakery. It was just something that I did when I needed to relieve some stress. That's why I say the secret ingredient and the Gideon's cookies are my tears cuz I always bake when I'm stressed out and put on the carpenters, you know, zone out and get into that mode.

Uh, so in a way the universe kind of pushed me into this in a very unexpected way. Uh, Uber bot was a wonderful place, but it did not survive the 2008 crash. Uh, and, uh, I lost everything. I lost my house. I lost, I even lost my dog at that time. It was like the worst time of my life, which obviously pushed. to baking because I needed it so much, but I also needed some money.

So I started selling some cookies outta my house and it just snowballed. You know, it's, in a lot of ways it feels like it was a quick from A to B, but it was really, you know, an eight year process of learning, uh, selling things out of the house, and then eventually being asked to do a popup at East End Market.

Uh, that, uh, turned into pure madness almost instantly.

So, wait, I want, I want to step back for one second. So you're self taught, right? You teach yourself how to do baking. You don't come from a family of bakers or anything else like that. You use this as a way to sort of help deal with sadness and stress?

I always believe that oftentimes from adversity, therein lies some great opportunity. Am I correct in, is the story true that at one point you started working at the Apple store and you were, um, you were like bringing cookies for like friends to try and and taste test. Was there like a little black market of like, people like selling your cookies before?

Like you, Steve, you need to sell your cookies and if we don't, we're gonna sell

them for you? Yes, there absolutely was a, a, a Gideons black market. Uh, yeah, I needed insurance, uh, and uh, and, and money. So I, I became a trainer at Apple. I was working at Apple for, for a while, and. I, I love my Apple family. Uh, they, they pushed me and, and, and inspired me to go beyond just a chocolate chip cookie.

So I started working on a lot of different flavors and testing them out. I made them pay for it. So, you know, they, they, they, you know, they, it wasn't out of the kindness of their heart. I, uh, I was selling decent amount of cookies to my, uh, to my Apple peeps. Uh, uh, I I, I often say that the cookies and cream cookie is on the menu because it's the most popular cookie with Apple people, and I don't like it.

like it's a good cookie, and it, it, I, I made it to try to taste like a. A, a Oreo milkshake in a cookie form. And it does, and that wasn't easy to do, but you knew what an Oreo milkshake tastes like. So it, it's not a surprising flavor profile that I, I think is found in every other cookie, but it's popular. I, I curse those Apple people for it, uh, every time they, they come and visit, which is, which is often, uh, but yeah, that they were kind of my testing ground.

Uh, but what would happen is my waiting list was pretty intense. Uh, and, and people started to get on the waiting list to, uh, purchase cookies only to sell them for double the price . And that's when I started to really take things a little bit more seriously. Yeah. There's,

there's, there's a business here.

So how do you go from, you know, the, the guy in his kitchen, sort of the mad scientist in his kitchen to your first pop-up shop here at East Dun Market?

A lot of it is, uh, because I think one of the things that I've learned through, uh, music and through Uber bot. And working kind of in that comic book business is I realized that I had a, a, a good eye and understanding for branding and marketing.

So what was always happening in my head with Gideons was even when it wasn't really a bakery to me, my brain can't help but create the vision and the branding and the feel and the vibe of it in my head. So it was always moving in that direction and there just comes a point where it has to get out, you know, and, and the pop-up didn't have the, the, the tone and visual of Gideons.

Uh, and there was an existing baker here in the eastern market that had retired. And I could have easily just taken over that space and kept that bakery's look and vibe and saved a lot of money. But I tore it all down because it had to be Gideons. I had to have those bookshelves up, I had to have the chandeliers.

I had to have that feeling that was in my head. Cuz at the end of the day, Gideons is, is my authenticity. It's my creative expression. It's, I think a part of what is so successful about Gideons is that it's not some themed concept that I've come up with. I don't think anybody gets this feeling like I'm throwing out product to squeeze their cash out of them.

It's really me at my house making desserts, uh, and art and hoping that it, they love it and that they're inspired by it, telling them stories, just having fun. And

again, there's, there's sort of, I look at what happens next. There's sort of being two sides of the story, right? There's, there's the. You side of the story, opening up the pop-up shop, you have no partners, no investors, a few hundred dollars in the bank, and that's it.

Like you are sort of going all in on opening up this store. Talk to me first about what that first day was, what that first day was like, and then I wanna talk about the story of Gideon and how, again, it, it's more than a theme, but it's the story and it's the essence of what Gideons really is.

The first day was one of those interesting days that I've talked about before, uh, because I didn't think that such a thing like this really existed.

It's just the BS that people tell you when they're, when they're telling you their life story, but. I, I remember talking to the previous popups before me and they gave me a kind of an understanding of what my daily volume should be based on traffic here in the market. And I, I'm, I freeze my dough before I bake it.

I use Ruben Vanilla Bean in the dough, so it's part of that process. And I don't have a staff, so I prepared what I've thought was three weeks worth of dough, and it was all gone by one o'clock on the first day. So it was one of those, Real BS moments where everything just clicked and I realized, oh wow, this is what I'm supposed to be doing.

Uh, and everything that Gideons in my head was kind of built up to be solidified. And it's been that ever since. It took a while to really get it to exactly where I wanted it to be, because when you don't have a team in resources, it's, it's really hard. Uh, but the appeal to Gideons at Disney Springs was, it really opened up that door to, to be fully what I thought Gideons could be.

Yeah. Because when you came here, again, this is supposed to be a three week trial of a pop-up shop, so you are sort of, you know, taking a chance on starting this business here, east End Market, and a mutual friend Right. Taking a a, a shot in. Letting you do this pop up, how quickly does it turn to this is gonna be where Gideon's permanent home is

about 45 seconds.

Yeah, it was really that quick. I, I, I think I knew and East End knew that, that, that this needed to be a permanent fit. I mean, and that's more for them to say, but I'm, I, I'm pretty sure if memory serves, and to be fair, my memory typically doesn't serve . Uh, we were having the conversation about a, a, a permanent lease within a, a week or so of me being here as a pop-up.

Yeah. Yeah. I love the fact

that you both were able to see that vision very quickly. So let's talk about the story of the, again, the story concept of, of Gideon and how this comes to be. Because you don't pull this name, you don't pull the sort of vibe of what Gideon's is sort of out of thin air. It sort of, it, it sort of came from who you are and your love of books and collecting and, and the Victorian era.

Tell the story of, of Gideon

and the, and the cookbook. Yeah. The name Gideons comes from a, a, a book that I found at an estate sale where I, I, I purchased a, a collection of Victorian books and, uh, one of them was a cookbook that a little kid was writing in because he wanted to be a baker when he grew up.

And the name scribbled to the back of the book is Gideon. The date the book was published was 1898. So I just find that fascinating. I love, that's part of the joy of collecting antiques. As a matter of fact, we found another book in the collection, uh, that I, I built at Disney Springs that a little girl wrote in and crayon.

It wasn't a cookbook, but she was, she was doing her homework in it. Uh, and for some reason, all this stuff just seems a little creepy to me. But there's a page in there where she's just writing names of bones in this colorful crayon, which is just a, a, an amazing thing. So I, I, I, I just have a knack for finding some cool stuff now and again.

Uh, and when it came time to really take Gideons a little bit more seriously and that branding started to, to to unfold in my head, that book came to, to to memory. Uh, so. It just stands, uh, you know, it just, it just lends itself to a Victorian, uh, uh, feel if you're going to, uh, pay tribute to a book that's from the, you know, 1898.

But also, I was living in College Park in an old house at the time that was an older home that needed that decor. So the decor of Gideons was the decor of my house. East End Market is still to this day, filled with stuff that I robbed from myself because I had 800 bucks when I opened up this shop. I had to, to obviously take my own collection, uh, of things and, and put it in here.

Uh, so yeah, it was, it was really easy. You know, it's, The, the decision making of, of Gideons, the, the, the growth of Gideons, the branding side of Gideons, because it's so authentic, it's natural to me. I don't have to, I don't hem and hall over any decision making process. It's usually a two second process, uh, which I think is a part of how I'm able to survive at the level that we've become, uh, and having such an amazing team, uh, underneath me.

But yeah, Gideon just feels, it feels natural. A

and I love that. I love the sense of authenticity, not just to the book and the story and, and the little boy, which is wonderfully. Darkly romantic, but Gideons is who you are. This haunted Victorian

vibe, um, that I am a darkly romantic soul

for sure. But the aging and the texture and the beauty in, in terms of deciding what the.

visuals were going to be like, you know, do you sort of ask yourself, all right, what, what do I want this to be? What did, what would Gideon's Kitchen have looked like? Uh, and there's a Disney connection too, right off the bat, even here in East End Market In terms of the decor that you chose, right?

Yeah. The chandelier that ha that hangs over the cookie display case used to be in the Haunted Mansion.

I got really lucky. So could

you, I don't even, what's the story of how that

came into your position? I had Tony, our, our lighting guy. I love him to death, uh, the Rustic Punk. Uh, he, uh, he uh, I saw his work at the Adjectives Market here in town, and he has a friend that was a contractor at Disney that did some of the updates to Haunted Mansion.

And he had some pieces. And if I recall, uh, he was obsessed with pears and he only had one chandelier and he only had one piece of wrought iron gate from the cemetery. So he sold it to me for cheap. Wow. Like a couple hundred bucks. Wow. Which was like a quarter of my budget. So, uh, uh, I, I got really fortunate with that.

And it, it, I I, it was a little foreshadowing that I didn't even realize. And it still hangs downstairs. It does. He added lighting to it. It didn't have actual, uh, electrical in it. It held candles, but he, he outfitted it to, to actually work. Well,

uh, before we leave, we'll get a picture and I'll, I'll share it in the show notes so people can see it.

But you talk about that, that selling out very quickly. The buzz of this little 280 some odd square foot pop-up bakery grows very, very, very quickly. Um, the word gets out. I have to imagine, again, you don't expect this just from a business perspective. Talk about sort of the, the challenges that that has to present to you, sort of having to scale quickly cuz it's all you and it's all your time.

So how do you like, scale you to make sure that you're able to. The same type of quality and the same type of experience for everybody that

comes through? Well, for, for my local friends that were here from the beginning and they know that the answer is I didn't, I sold out, uh, way too fast for quite a while until it took me, it took me some time to figure it out.

But what was really great about that, and what I love so much about this community, is they were supportive. They didn't come in and yell at me because we were sold. Uh, they congratulated me and encouraged me, uh, until I finally started to hire some people and figure it out. Gideons at Eastern Market is 286 square feet, so selling out was inevitable because there's just not enough space to hold enough cookies to meet the demand, which is why there's a limit of six per person.

Or I've just recently updated to seven per person because I added our first new permanent cookie to the menu with my banana bread chocolate chip. Uh, but it, it, it was hard. I, you know, I don't know what I'm doing to this day and it's still, I, I kind of, uh, embrace that. I don't know what I'm doing cuz that's where a lot of that authenticity comes from, is I just, uh, and originality.

So you talk about the theming and the look of Gideons. It was natural for me because that's kind of what my brain would look like if you cracked it open. It made sense for the, the name and the history, but there was also a part of me that didn't want to look or feel like anybody else. You know, like I haven't ever had every chocolate chip cookie in the world, but I've never had one like mine.

And the goal when we talk about experience is how do you create menu items that create a unique experience? I remember the first time I had a chocolate chip cookie to Gideon Steakhouse. I remember the first time I had that peanut butter cold brew. I, I love to hear those things. More than anything else.

So a, a lot of the look of, of what we are stems from the fact that every other bakery was clean and pastel and colorful and cute, and I am none of those things. Uh, so it just worked out, uh, that, that Gideons was so different in every sense of the word. Uh, and I think it allowed growth and attention, uh, and support from the community to happen so quickly because it was also at a time in Central Florida's history where the food scene was just starting to grow and explode.

And for those of us who have been in Orlando for 20 plus years, know that it used to be nothing but chains. You know, where are we going tonight? Outback or Longhorn or, or, uh, you know, olive, olive Garden. Oh. Uh, and it's not that anymore. So I was really fortunate to be a part of that growth. I, I, I'm proud to, to, to be a, a part of the, the building of the food scene here in town and, and, and all the amazing work that my peers do.

Like, I love, I love all the local businesses around here. We talk to each other, we support each other. It's a cool community

and I, I love the fact that it's, it's about community. And we're gonna circle back to, to the idea of what it is and, and why that's so important. But let's talk about the cookies themselves, right?

You have this legendary reputation for not cookies. Not only cookies that are delicious, but they're giant. Um, they're handmade. We obviously know about the crazy demand, I have to imagine starts with the simple chocolate chip cookie, but some of the other recipes, Didn't come from the cookbook, right? One did like one almost make it like a spice cookie or

something?

Almost. Yeah. Actually. Oh, I forgot about that. I'm, I'm shaking my head No. uh, there was a, a, a, the most popular cookie of, of that era was called the hermit cookie. So I kind of incorporated the, the spices that were in this popular hermit cookie into my chocolate chip and made like a chocolate chip hermit cookie.

Uh, that's never actually made it to the retail side. That was one of those items that I sold outta my kitchen that never made it over. I totally forgot about it. That's why .

But you do have ones that were inspired by you growing up. So I'm gonna say this more than once, and I swear it's true. I'm really not a sweets guy, but there is something about the cookies, and one of my favorites is your dark c.

Coffee cake cookie, which, you know, you come from Staten Island. So was that, did that sort of been inspired by, you know, growing up in, in New York Italian family where crumb cake on Sunday morning was

100%. So I, I call that the love letter to my New York Italian family, cuz I remember the, uh, uh, everybody playing poker, uh, eating the coffee cake with, uh, with a coffee at night.

And, uh, I, I had to, to, to bring that it's the hardest cookie to make. Uh, which is why it's very limited. It's only at the Disney Springs location. We only make a couple hundred a day. So there's a morning version, which is vanilla based and a, and a, uh, sunset version, which only comes out exactly at sunset every night.

Like if you show up five minutes before sunset, you're not getting that good. Trying to ton the virtual cue is very,

very tough.

Like I know, I know. I'm sorry, , I'm sorry.

Especially if you're trying to get there for like, um, Hot cookie hour. Right. So yeah, and I love the fact that you have these things like the morning cookie and the nighttime cookie and the seasonal cookies because again, there is a difference in the type of experience that you go into literally depending on when you go time of year and time of day.

Yeah. And a lot of it's just necessity. Like I said, the, that the coffee cake cookie's too hard to make. So a lot of my menu and production is a whack-a-mole if everybody wants that coffee cake cookie and I make a bunch of it because it takes double the time. Now I don't have enough chocolate chip to get through the.

So something's going to have to give. And again, I'm tiny, both loca between both locations. I'm just 1600 square foot of retail. So we have to be really mindful about it. I can't obviously keep an oven making hot cookies all day long. I'm gonna run out of cookies. Uh, so we only do it, uh, one hour, two times a day, where in those kind of hours where we start to focus on catching up.

So everything feels really limited and exclusive, which is fun, but it's, the truth behind it is it's just necessity. .

And where does some of the inspiration come for the cookies, because you do have such unique flavors. I love the fact that a lot of 'em have a little bit of a saltiness to it. You do, you do one that's specifically that the Krampus cookie is in December.

You have another cookie that comes out literally only one

day a year. Right? Yeah. I think we've got a few of those. Uh, now. I know, I was think about the Black Cat

cookie

was like a Yeah. That we do. The Black Cat. Some of these charity cookies are like one, one day or one week out of the year. I was working on one just this morning for something coming up.

Uh, so yeah, we, we love to have a little bit of fun where it comes from. I don't know. It's, you know, its, it, it really is. Like, that's what I feel like eating. Gideons is very much my palate. Uh, there are actually things on the menu that I don't normally eat, and people will challenge me. Like, you know, I, I hate coconut.

But I have a coconut caramel chocolate chip cookie. And when I realized in my own journey of creating that cookie is I don't really hate coconut. I hate fake coconut. That little shred chewy nonsense. So real coconut bark shaved on top of it with a nice coconut oil and feas in the cookie, I thought was a really fun experience.

So, yeah, I don't know. It's all over the place. Really. Yeah. And that's what makes it, there's no, if there were a formula to it, I don't think it would be as much fun. Well, you're talking

about tears being an ingredient. I think heart is, is ingredient, right? You're talking about sort of the, you know, the, the personal and emotional part of, of dessert is, so it's a lot of care that you put into each one.

This is not to sort of you picking out some random recipe and

throwing it together. My brother, it takes so long to, to develop anything that's on the Gideon's menu. I mean the, yes, the, the chocolate chip cookie was 15 years of tinkering. But even now, after so many years of doing this, you know, a couple decades at this point, Uh, I'll still spend six to eight months Wow.

On a, on a single new cookie flavor. Uh, and then I'm, I'm really fortunate I've got so many great people on my team that are finally starting to understand my palate a little bit. So where it used to constantly be me just saying, do this, this, this, and this. Just within this last few months, the team will go, Hey, what about this?

And they'll send me something like, with a little tweak and I was done to you earlier before we started that. I try to only do taste tests on Wednesdays, uh, because it's so much and we'll be working on like six months worth of stuff at once. Uh, so I try to only kill myself, uh, one, one day a week. Uh, but I think it's finally getting to that point where some of my team is really.

Understanding the specificity of my palate and uh, uh, and playing into it, you know, and it's not really that specific, my palate, it's just, if it's, if you don't feel like this is the best you've had, then why? Why do it? Mediocrity is my enemy. I say that all the time and there's no such thing as the best in the grand scheme of things.

Like I'm not a fan of winning awards or being told that we have the best cookies in the world. There's no such thing. You know, you, you'd have to eat every cookie in the world, and we would all have to have the exact same pallet for that to be true, but, , our palate is based off of so many things and memories of our life and, you know, the, the banana, like I said, the banana bread, chocolate chip cookie is, is populated because it's so sentimental to the childhood me.

So the way that I perceive and taste the combo, banana and chocolate might be different from you. If you had a bad experience with banana when you were a kid and you hate it and you're not wrong to hate it. That's just who you are. But I need my team to always feel like everything that we've put out there is the, is the best that we know how to do.

That's the Gideon's promise. Like there's nothing half-assed at all. It's really very thoughtfully added to the menu.

And that expands to the other offerings, right? The cakes, again, which are also massive, which are also made from scratch. You, you mentioned, um, the peanut butter cold brew, like my son and I will make special chips to Disney Springs only for the peanut butter cold brew.

But again, the same thing, the same care, and the same importance of sticking to the process, um, is

critical. We will obsess over the backing card that goes on a Gideon's pin. Like it's not just the, the, the cookies. It's every single thing at Gideon's Bakehouse period. Like there the it to, we're not just desserts, like I said earlier.

So we're gonna obsess over the visuals, we're gonna obsess over the storytelling and those trading cards, and just making sure that everything is as fun and accurate to who we are as it

can be. So let's fast forward a little bit. It's now. Spring June, 2020. The Lions here at East End Market are out the door, and you make your, you sort of dip your toe a little bit into the Disney Springs waters.

Not at Gideon's ba bake house, but at a secret, not so secret menu item on the polite pig

menu. Yeah. I don't all sell my cookies, but I, uh, the, the, the short version of it is I wanted to see if I can get on Disney's radar. Uh, I got a little tactical and my idea for growth, and there's a lot of reasons why Disney was on my radar.

Uh, it wasn't an easy choice for me because I like being a little secret in the eastern market, but I'm a creative brain that needs to grow and because I'm obsessed with experience. I started to realize that a place like Disney Springs is wonderful because that sense of escapism is baked into it. Uh, it's already there and it would be hard to pull that off in the plaza, you know, here in in town it's just not gonna carry that same weight.

So that was attractive to me, but also, Polite Pig is, uh, a local establishment out at Disney Springs, and it was the only one, and I, I wanted more representation, so I just thought, wow, what if I can really highlight being a local business at Disney Springs, uh, and, and representing this wonderful food community on an international stage?

It became like a responsibility that, that I felt I owed to the community. So I, I offered the polite pig, my chocolate chip cookie as a secret menu item, and because I'm a control nut, I had to bake it, package it, deliver it. Uh, and the hope was that people would line up for it there, like they do here, which would get Disney's attention and the conversation would be had.

And on the very first day that it was available for sale at the Polite Pig, uh, I give all the love and credit to the Disney food blog for posting a very nice photo of the cookie, holding in front of the pipe pig sign and proclaiming it one of the best things to eat on Disney property. And, uh, it was only a few weeks later that we were sitting down chatting.

So how does it come to be that there's this fortuitous opening in that incredibly prime spot, right? Um, the corner there. Talk to me more about the, the story again and the theme carrying over what you have here at East End Market into that much larger space. And then how it comes together, you know, with the concept and design.

Is that all you, do you work with

Imagineering? No, it's, uh, it's. It's me and, and Mike and Sandra, my, my two closest friends, uh, went in there and, and just designed the, the heck out of that space and had a blast doing it. A little fun fact about that space is I wanted to open up the week of Christmas because I'm stupid

Uh, and we got our occupational license the Friday before Christmas. You're not allowed to put anything in that building before you get that certification. So it was empty. It was just woodwork and electrical. Friday afternoon, we got it by Monday morning. That store looked the way it looks today inside and out.

Like we did all of that in one weekend, which was probably my, the favorite weekend of my life. Like, it was a blast. It was a blast. It was insane. Uh, and a lot of pressure, uh, and a lot of excitement. Uh, but, uh, uh, uh, definitely one of those pins in life that you, you hold onto, uh, throughout your days. But, uh, Obviously anything that we do out there is a conversation.

Chris Weck is the art director at the Disney Springs who I a adore to the moon and back. She's fantastic and we're in sync. It wasn't hard. It wasn't hard. Uh, it was a lot of fun. Yes. Uh, and while I say I don't like winning awards, I was really proud that, that we were, we got an international design award for that space.

I had to go out to California and I, I went up on stage after Nintendo got their award , which was just surreal. And it's a black tie in it, and there's me showing up looking the way that I always do. Uh, it was, uh, it was great. We had a lot of fun. The, I'm really the theme entertainment. Yeah. The, the, it's the NAT Award.

Yeah. Uh, yeah. I, I, I want people to go inside that space. It's, it's, I, I'm, I suffer from perfectionism. It's not a beautiful thing. Because you're never happy with anything. But Gideons to Disney Springs was the first time that ever came out better in reality than it was in my head. Like it's a very special spot to me.

And the beauty is, uh, nobody like me has no business being there, like, uh, uh, all the credits, uh, you know, Matt Simon, the VP at at, at Disney, uh, really believed in us and roll that dice. Like that team out there took a chance with me, uh, because I'm, I, I'm just some little local business guy with a 286 square foot space, rightfully so.

There was nothing to suggest to them that I could handle Giant, an international crowd in the largest. Place in the world. Uh, but I have a secret weapon and Patrick McKinney Patrick is my, uh, uh, grandpa Bob operations and, and he's his 16 years of experience working out there under his belt. And he is the best.

I say there's no such thing as the best Patrick's the exception. Like that guy is incredible. I call him the mayor of Disney Springs cuz he knows everything. The sweetest guy in the world, like he is a Boy Scout. Who just cares. Yeah. Uh, and we're a egoist team from top to bottom. So we get along with everybody, uh, on, on everybody's team out there, and it just makes the days great.

I think of Disney Springs the same way as I think of East End Market. It's an ecosystem. You know, I love talking about all my favorite things to eat out there the same way that I talk about it here. And I'm out at Disney Springs talking about how much I love Lineage Coffee over here. I'm out here at Eastern Market talking about how much I love Vallejo.

Like it's, it's all, it's all one happy, wonderful scene. Well, the thing I love about

it

too is it, it's more than the cookies. Again, it's experience inside and out. And you create as all as Disney does too. You create. Wonderfully intricate sort of backstory, not just about the space, but the people that occupy it.

Can you tell the story of the bookstore and the purveyor and, and when we go in, sort of the story that we can help sort of put

together in our heads? I, I, I mean, I'll just give you the little teaser that, that space once belonged to, uh, a bookstore owner by the name of Jonathan Lindworm. And when we were doing buildout for that space, I found an old Daria type, like an old antique photograph and a ledger on the wall.

Uh, that tells a little bit of his story, but the very quick and short of it is that one day this book seller was seen going into his space and never coming back out. So part of the goal for that space was recreating what we think used to be there, uh, but with a little, a lot of time between the two. So a lot of the reasons why the, those bookshelves are curved and shaped in different.

Directions is because even though Lin Worm has gone, his space still remains and has just grown over time. So those bookshelves have just continued to grow.

I, I love that when you walk in the door, um, you know, the light dim, the crowd level dims, like everybody talks a little bit softer when they're inside because of this sense of, of wonder and discovery as they look around.

And the books, the books on the shelves, they're authentic. Like they're Victorian

Arab books. Yeah, yeah. They're all early 18 hundreds to early 19 hundreds. Uh, everything in there belongs, uh, and if you go to visit and you walk in the, the portrait wall, there's a glass case built on the portrait wall. You could even find that old ledger and original photo of Jonathan Lindworm.

But he's a really, not, not to go back to the Lindworm, but I'm fascinated by this. That photo is weird. And it's, it's a real thing. Like we blew it up. And if you, if you really take a look at that, that man's face, I can't figure it out. Like he's got a little bit of reptilian going, a little vampire, a little werewolf.

Like it's the strangest photo I've seen. I, I, I love, I love everything about that space. One of my favorite things to do is be in there at like four o'clock in the morning when no one's around and I just get to listen to music and just be like, I, I, I would just wanna live in my, in my shop.

And if this, Literal and with literal and figurative character because you've created stories and characters and, and we have like trading cards around these characters.

Just talk about the idea of giving, you know, a little sense of, of deeper story to it and the, and the inclusion of these collectible trading cards.

So that was something that I wanted to do before Gideons ever opened was I wanted to be able to tell stories. I come from a comic art gallery background, so I, I didn't want that part of my life to be completely just severed from the new part.

I wanted to, to meld them together. So the original idea was that I would hide pages of a story in every box. Uh, but I quickly realized that that's not practical. One, I didn't have an art department, uh, like I do now, which is just an art department of one with Michael Reyes, who had his first art gallery show at Uber Bot.

We've just been super close friends ever since. Uh, I just didn't have the resources, but also I work off of really tiny margins. You know, I make a almost half pound cookie that takes over 24 hours to prepare. I'm 6,000 square foot of retail. I have 170 employees. Adding freebees into every box, you know, from a business standpoint is just, is just.

Uh, so it was really hard for me to figure out how to make it work. What I loved about the opportunity for Gideons at Disney Springs is it allowed me to bring on that big of a team, uh, to be able to have a dedicated art department. And the way that I kind of transition that idea of telling these individual stories was trading cards are easier to make, you know, that size, that, that, that format.

Uh, so what we did, We started telling the stories of each character with each collectible card. And Stuart Valencia, uh, is the card that I gave you today. He was the first, he was, uh, I did an orange pecan chocolate chip cookie. And I remember Mike and I talking about like what that character would be and started to just make each other laugh by telling the story of a boy who ate so many oranges that he eventually turned into one.

This is the cautionary tale of you are what you eat, . And it just snowballed from there until we started creating this little universe of, of, uh, of, of characters that, that are feel pretty real. Like I have very senti sentimental attachment to, to a, to a lot like everything from, uh, uh, Stewart. Uh, Valencia cuz he was the first child to, uh, uh, butterscotch the, this girl in the werewolf pajamas that we did in, in January.

That was my, uh, uh, love letter to Maurice Sundeck, you know, artist and, and storyteller that, that I love. So it's, it's just a, it's just such a bonus on top of everything that we've done. And what I really love about the Disney community is they embrace that storytelling, uh, which is harder to do on a small, local level.

Uh, it opened up doors for me that that didn't previously exist. So everything worked out perfectly

and I love that the storytelling begins outside, right? You walk by the building, you're trying to figure out what it. And if the huge line out front doesn't grab your attention, your gargoyle, aub, dejak close

enough.

Maybe, maybe I can't tell you. So part of the journey is if you can learn how to say his name correctly, you are granted his protection. But if I tell you how to say it, it doesn't happen. So we're

done here. I'm gonna try like six or seven pronunciations. I'll just wait to read, read your face. Um, but again, I just love the, the continuing thoughtfulness and care in every aspect of the brand and the branding and what it is.

So take me back in time to this fateful day in December. God bless you for choosing it around Christmas time. Tell me what that opening day experience is

like. I, I, I've had this question before. I don't know how to answer. I still haven't come up with a good answer for it cuz it was just surreal. Uh, so there's that moment of, oh wow, okay, this is happening.

But from our point of view, it's work like, okay, how do we make this, what ended up being a 12 hour wait on our grand opening day? You know, how do we improve it? How do we make it as best as we can for everyone? How do we set expectations, which is a large part of my job, is just setting expectations of what Gideons is.

I don't like people to be disappointed. Uh, so a lot of it was just talking and getting to know everyone, but it was. I still don't know how to answer this question. I'm, I'm lame. I'm sorry. Did they, did,

did somebody tell you, like, get ready, like a mob is coming? Like they're, they're living with people who are coming just

for you.

Yeah. The, the, this was on the grand opening day. The, uh, the traffic was backed up so people were getting out of the cars, like the passengers were getting out of the cars and running into Disney Springs and security warned us that there was a mob heading to us. So it took us a while to get everybody in the virtual queue, but the, the line stretched throughout Disney Springs.

So a lot of times when people say, uh, I don't wanna wait in this virtual queue, blah, blah, blah. I'm like, you trust me? You'd rather virtually wait than see what this line looks like without a virtual queue, cuz there's hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people ahead of you waiting virtually. You don't wanna see that line.

I've seen that line. I've seen Look, even now,

Disney Springs opens at 10, the garage opens at nine 99% of those cars in the garage are people who are heading to Gideons to getting in line at nine o'clock. It it has to, I mean, it's an incredible testament to, to you and the story, but that has to still be after so many years.

Incredible.

I, I feel fortunate. You know, I, I don't have the ego to, to be like, Ooh, look at me. Look what, look what I've done. That's not how I roll. Uh, I just concentrate on making sure that everyone that does go through the effort of coming to see us has the best possible experience. Like, I, I see it on my team every time.

Treat every cookie you make, like it's someone's first Gideon's cookie, cuz there's a really good chance that it will be. So I wanna make sure that it's the best. So I, I, I do have the little pockets of joy and, and just the realiz realization of this madness. But I don't allow myself to fall into it. I'm always just looking how we can make it better and how we can grow and be better ourselves.

So

I wanna try and pay you the highest compliment that I can because knowing a little bit about your story and meeting you and hearing you, there's a lot of like, and again, I mean this, there's a lot of Walt Disney in you, right? In terms of the vision, in terms of the care, in terms of what is important.

And you know, the quote about making it takes people to make the dream a reality. You obviously can't be in two locations at once, right? You can't be in, in both places at once. You go from one person in his kitchen to 170 employees. Talk about the importance of building. A culture of the staff, because when I go to Gideons, I know that I'm going to have a conversation with the person who is helping me, that they're genuinely, you know, interested in, in what I have to say.

It's not transactional, it's, it's a relationship thing. And that, and there's a, a personal conversation that doesn't feel like it's salesperson and, and customer, but like Disney is sort of a, a

guest. Yeah. I mean, and part of it's like what we talked about earlier with the, the interview process of really making sure that, that I'm hiring people that are passionate about.

Creating those experiences and they understand what I'm looking for. I want to know. I want them to know a little bit about who I am, and I want to know a little bit about who they are. And a lot of their job is to do that exact same thing with everybody that walks up. But it's important to me, and we, I talked about us being an egoist team.

A lot of that is because not just, it allows us to get on with everybody perfectly as we move throughout our days or as best that we can. But I want my team to be that, you know, I, I tell people that I hire for emotional maturity. You have to bring emotional maturity to your day. And what that means to me is you have to care about the guest experience, but you also have to care about your coworker's experience and you have to care about yourself.

Like I am equally invested in all three of those things. Uh, and it's not nonsense. It's not, it's not a line that I'm throwing out because I think it sounds like it, it will resonate or it's what people want to. , it's preached from the top to the bottom. There's no, there's equality across the board at, at Gideons, and I think that really helps.

I want everyone to take their job seriously and, and, and, and create art and good things with what they do, but I really also want them to laugh and have a good time and look out for each other. It's just important to me, you know, I mean, that's, I, I, my team knows I'm a terrible capitalist. Like, that's not my scene.

Like, I'm not trying to squeeze people. I am truly obsessed with experience that's, you know, how much money I have isn't a mark of any level of greatness at all. What I can do for others is what really, really matters. That's why we like to do so much charity stuff. It's like, how, how can we improve the lives of our team?

How can we improve the lives of our guests and create great memories for them? But also, what can we give back to the community for us, it's. All about animals. Uh, so, uh, those are the things that matter. I just have to make sure that we're healthy enough that we're all still employed, and, and, uh, and uh, and go from there.

Well, I love the fact that you

grow your team, you know, really at a necessity, right? To be able to serve guests, but you still keep your creative team very small. I love the fact that you do your own social right Gideon's Bake house on, on Instagram. And I love that it's not just pictures of cookies come by, this, this is what we're doing now.

It's stories and characters and poems and things about animals. There's a lot, again, there's, I feel that there's a lot of, of heart and, and authenticity and you behind every one of

those. Yeah, I ca I think it's weird and, you know, no, no disrespect to other people and how they do their choices. There's no right or wrong in anyone's life.

It's your experience. But the idea of giving up my social media for someone else to run makes zero sense to me. , it would just, Gideons is very much me. So why would someone else vocalize that? Uh, so no one has my password. No one's ever used my social media. If I accidentally fall off this, uh, you know, second story on the way outta here, which is possible, I'm pretty clumsy.

Uh, then, you know, there's no more Gideons pick out social media . Uh, so I, I enjoy it. It's, it's, it's very personal. So I I, I've had conversations with people. For two years before they've had their first Gideons. And I'll show my team, my dms of just, and their, their, you know, animated gifts and happy birthdays.

Like, it's more than just, you know, what's the special cookie today? It's, I talk to people. Right. You're

not a brand. You humanize what the quote unquote Gideons brand is.

Yeah. It's, it's very personal and I like that people know that they can DM me at any time to say, I love this, I love this cookie. This employee was a jerk.

This employee was awesome. You know, it's, it's, it's, it's a really fun relationship. But I'm not a, I'm not a social media spammer either. Like, I only post when there's something to tell you. Like there's no cookie memes on my social media. It's, I might only post four times a month, but when I do. It covers everything you need to know.

Like if you read my Gideon social, you know what's happening all the time. Like my recent post where I talked about why don't ship because the question comes up so often and it'll build and build and build that. Every few months I feel the need to address it again. That helps those questions subside and gives my team a little break.

Uh, cuz like I said, setting expectation is a big part of what I do and I try to use my social media, uh, to make sure that anyone that wants to know what's up and knows what's up. And I think it's

empowering to us as guests to know that when we reach out via dm, the person who's reading it and the person who's gonna respond to it is the owner of the company.

It is the person behind Gideons, which you don't get in 99.9% of of other businesses. Um, I I wanna shift gears a little bit and talk sort of. About through the entrepreneurial side of your story, because it's, it's, it's fascinating to me this, you know, kid with a dream, a few hundred dollars, no budget, no investors.

Um, can you share advice for people who are thinking about starting a business who have those same fears and hesitations and the importance of taking risks?

So I still feel like what you just described, like, uh, broke , and I know partners know investors that's not really that much different, uh, these days.

The price of eggs alone has, has destroyed me. Uh, but, uh, Wow, that question, uh, consistently. The biggest piece of advice that I give to people is, is really two main things. One is be authentic to who you are. If what you're doing is an expression of you, it's gonna be a much easier path for you and hopefully unique compared to what everyone else is doing because we're unique people.

Uh, so try to be true to who you are and not a proud of your environment. Like I don't pay attention to what other people are doing. I don't care. I don't know celebrity chefs, I don't know that life. I just mess around and hope that something cool comes out of it. Uh, the other thing I tell people, which kind of goes hand in hand with being authentic to who you are, is don't listen to what other people tell you.

So if I listen to every piece of advice that people gave me as a very young pop-up and I had advice from everybody. , I would not be what I am today. That authenticity wouldn't be there. I would've been conflicted. It's information overload. When you're listening to everybody's different advice and everybody's got their own opinion.

Uh, the best path is always your path. Uh, so I don't really care what other people tell me. Yeah,

because it's, it's very easy to get distracted by somebody saying, you need to do this. You should be doing this. You, you know, I love the fact that you stayed true to your vision, especially for this, but you also, you dealt with adversity, not once, but twice, you know, over and over again.

Whether it's having to have surgery in your hand and not being able to, to play music anymore, whether it is losing your comic book shop, you know, two outta your three things that you wanted as a kid, one away. Talk about this idea of having to deal in dealing with adversity and how. Failure and challenges force you to be more

creative.

Dealing with adversity is awesome. Failing is awesome. I'm great at it. Uh, but I think that philosophically if you, if you don't know how to learn from your mistakes, your living life in a straight line, which may be a declining line because cynicism starts to kick in, I think one of the successes in life is truly learning from your mistakes.

I don't believe that everything happens for a reason. That's just, you know, that's, that suggests that you don't have a choice in the matter. But if you, if you learn from your mistakes and you look back at your life, Connect the dots as if everything happened for reason, but it's up to you to find the path to those dots.

Uh, I'm, I'm a Harry Potter nerd, and, uh, one of the things that I loved and resonated with in Harry Potter was the, the, the liquid luck, the Felix Felicis. Uh, I think about that often, and, and all it really does is open up your mind to all those possibilities so that you can clearly see that path. And I try to take moments in, in, in, in my life where I just.

Turn everything off and visualize that path. And Felix felices my way into the next step that feels authentically me without all the mumbo jumbo around it. So I love challenges. You know, it, it, again, if you believe that life is all about experience, you can't experience great things all the time, it's gotta be a mixed bag.

And I learn equally from the positive as I do from the negative. I, I love the experience of going to an amazing restaurant and I love the bad experiences too. And I went to a place the other day and I'm like, what is, this is terrible. Who designed this? Uh, but I learned from that. Oh my God, I could never do that.

Uh, so. I, I embrace it all. And, and when you can learn to do that, I think it, it helps you to grow. One of our, our, the, the Gideons goals as a, as a business, I say in quotes, cause I don't really think of Gideons as a, as a business, but as a team and individually, we just try to be a little bit better with every single day, uh, in, in how we create and how we treat each other.

And if we can do that, uh, we're doing all right. You know, I, I, the, the older I've gotten, the more I've been in tune with that concept and the happier I've been.

Well, you talk about team, right? And I think one of the hardest steps is going from solopreneur to entre. From the single guy with $800 in a bank to 170 employees Talk about scaling and some of the fears and the trust that has to come associated

with that.

I mean, the easiest route would've been to automate the process or hire somebody to, you know, an outside company to, to do some of this stuff for us. But nothing about Gideons has changed from my kitchen to Disney Springs. So my only choice, like the only path available to me was to hire hands to do everything by hand.

And it was really hard. It was really hard. So, I, I, it. Someone asked me the other day, if I, if I could tell year one, Steve, anything. It was, will you please hire some more people? Because you're letting go is hard though. But letting go is hard. It's really hard. And, and that was the biggest jump for me is, is just letting that happen.

And I, again, super fortunate because sizing people up is my competency strength. So I was able to find people like Patrick and Brian and Chef Willie and Chef Terrell, that, that just run great teams in that kitchen so that there's consistency, which is the key to success in, in the restaurant business. Uh, again, every cookie should be, you know, think of it as it's somebody's first Gideon's cookie.

So I need that team to care. And because there's so many people in there, I need the top of that food chain to care so that that culture is set in, uh, and it works, you know, and we have a pretty strict, you know, 90 day thing if you're not clicking on those 90 days. Peace. You know, we don't have time to, to introduce that into it.

Uh, it goes again, back to emotional, maturing and ego. Like I tell my staff, you're never gonna deal with ego and drama from me. I'm not gonna deal with it from you. Like, the easiest way to get let go at Gideons is to be, you know, drama and gossipy and making, being in a clique, like if somebody in my, my staff starts a little clique, that gangs up on other part.

No, we don't do that at all. So it it, it makes it scaling up growth much easier. The challenge is always the people you have with you. So we place a really high importance on the quality, the personality, the emotional maturity of our team and creativity.

It's always, it goes back to this idea of, of creating culture.

But you mentioned a word earlier that, that resonates with me because it's the most important part of what I do. It's the heart of what I do and it's community. Talk about how the secret and the best way to build brand. Is by building community.

Yeah. I think that's something that I learned without realizing I was learning it.

When you're a musician, you're trying to build a sense of community around your band so that they come and support you and see you. Uh, then I graduated into the comic shop where I had an art gallery and I did interesting things at that art gallery where I would invite those comic artists to do things.

But then the next month I would have themed art shows that anyone was allowed to do pieces in. And that world famous artists would do a piece for it alongside of a seven year old that just put their first piece of art in an art gallery show. And I love that because it created community and all these walks of life came together at Uber Bot, uh, and just got to know each other.

And that was the pride in what we did there. That was that, uh, building of community. And I started to understand that in that second round more than I'd. Did in the first, it was just subconsciously happening then. So Eastern Market was a perfect place for me because it's a community. Uh, Disney Springs is a perfect place for me because it's a community like the, it's it, the feeling is already there, and I just love tapping into it, encouraging it.

In building it. I tell people all the time when they come to Gideons at Disney Springs and I find out that they're East End Market people. I'm like, this is your store. This never would've happened. When people praise me for all the things that have happened, praise my community. Those are the people behind every strong business here in Central Florida.

Period. You know, if it weren't for that, we wouldn't exist. So community's everything, you know? And that's, that's, that's, again, it's part of that human condition. We're all, we're all in this together.

So your first step is into the kitchen. Your first jump is into East End Market. Your big leap is into Disney Springs.

What's next for Gideon

Secrets are next for Gideons . Uh, yeah. One of the, and, and I, I have to learn to be careful about this. Cause every time I talk about it, it becomes an article somewhere. Uh, because I, I, I, I just recently admitted that I didn't want to open up another Gideons. It, it's hard. Uh, so scaling again and again and again is, there's, there's gotta, you know, come a limit.

Uh, I, I don't wanna automate the same issues exist. Maybe someday a a an opportunity will come along that, that presents a, a creative challenge, but maybe not. Who knows? Uh, I think there's a lot of growth to be had in Gideons without ever having another location just in the stories that we tell, uh, and, and, and letting them grow and, and be new things.

But I have openly admitted that some of. Characters deserve to leave the family and expand in their own ways. Uh, and that's something that, that interests me is creativity in, in some other project that is threaded to Gideons, but not Gideons.

I have a rye smile on my face as I look into your eyes trying to read what you're saying.

But I love, I'm not giving you, I know I you're, you like the recipes for Gideons that you're, you are a sealed vault. Um, look, I love how your business is built on, on bringing joy to people. And I can only imagine what it must be like for you, whether tier Eastern Market and when you go to a Disney Springs and you watch guests come out with smiles on their faces, cookies on their lips, or, or you know, talk about that.

Just really quickly talk about how that, the feeling that you get, of seeing the joy that you bring people.

I, I just wanna talk to everybody, you know. So, like I said, I feel like I'm still cooking, you know, baking cookies outta my house and you've come over to my house to enjoy them. So in the same way that I would want to talk to someone that's come over to my house, I want to talk to someone that's coming to my line.

So my staff jokes that I cost Gideons thousands of dollars every time I show up because I slow the, the machine down. I just want to talk and talk. And I'm not allowed in the store , uh, because, uh, I'll look over and all the registers are empty and their, their hands are cross, you know, their arms are crossed, in front of their chest.

Uh, so I, I, I've gotten a little bit better and I just try to talk to people outside in the line. But it's, I, I just feel fortunate for the opportunity to be able to express myself. Uh, and I don't want to squander it, and I don't want to change who I am. And I, I, I refuse to allow any of it to go to my head.

Uh, The one thing that you do learn when you grow up as a musician is that you should be better than everyone else because you sing and play guitar. And I learn how to get rid of that nonsense. Uh, I'd say my early teens, early twenties, I do not want it back. So it's not about me, it's about them. It's about everybody else.

Uh, it's not called Steve's big house for a reason. Uh, so I just wanna talk to you. If you see me out there, say hello, cuz I'd be excited to say hello back. I love

that. And I love that about you and, and the authenticity and, and you so much are this brand. Um, and there's, there's a little bit of, a lot of creativity, a little bit of tears, a whole lot of work and, and heart that goes into it.

You sell joy, you bring. Last question. When you need a little bit of comfort food, when you need a Gideon's cookie and a coffee, what, what's your go-to?

Man? There's so many tears, not just little. You got that percentage off. Uh, banana bread, chocolate chip cookie, and peanut butter. Cold brew, uh, has been my, my absolute jam lately.

Oh, and lately the, the cinnamon roll cake. Oh, oh. I'm team vanilla, which is funny to say as somebody that's got chocolate all over everything. But, uh, on Valentine's Day, I, I snagged a piece of that cake and brought it home. Told my cats I love them, and just ate that, that cake. Don't look at me.

Don't judge me.

Don't judge me by what I am doing. Um, Steve, this has been fascinating. I appreciate you being so transparent in, in sharing your story as in some of your secrets. Um, in terms of what's next, all we can do is wait and hope and enjoy some of the incredible treats and the joy that you bring, uh, here at East Market and here at, uh, Disney Springs.

Um, this has been fascinating. Steve Lewis, thank you so much.

And we didn't even talk about comics. We're doing all right. We, I

know. I was like, well, if poor guys gotta get on with his day,

cause we could go really quick. Favorite Marvel movie and why go? Oh, see, I got you. It is, it's hard.

Um, the, you know what?

I'm gonna go with the original Avengers, which I've probably seen a hundred times.

That's not an exaggeration. So I'm gonna say it's Captain America Winners Soldier. Oh, that's, yeah, that's right. I got you. . And as a comic book nerd, one of the things that I love about Captain America as a character in the Marvel movies is he's one of the few characters that's unchanged.

He's exactly the same in the movies as he is in the comics. That's page de screen perfection. And Winners Soldier is such a great film. It, it, there's nothing about it that has to be particularly superhero. It's just a great story. It's very accessible to people that love so many different genres of movies.

It's just a very well made film. I love it.

Now I wanna say Captain America First Avenger. Cause I love origin stories. I told you I love the period pieces. I love the music from that film. Who doesn't love

Captain Carter? I, I, I adore Captain Carter. This is a great, I I even have the, the, the Captain Carter, uh, hot Toys figure.

Oh, yeah, yeah. With the, uh, with the uh, uh, Hydra Stomper. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Oh, so cool. So cool. I'm such a nerd. I love it. I know It's too

bad that, uh, just don't have the comic bookshop. But yeah man, this is great. Thank you. Thank

you so much. I appreciate you Favorite Marvel character. I know the answer, but go, uh, yeah, I, I do love the, the complexity and tragedy that is Thanos.

Awesome