Meet the Phenom of Miami Cookies
Win tickets to sample treats from Andrew Gonzalez at South Beach Wine & Food Festival
Andrew Gonzalez was a typical 20-year-old college student — studying for exams and planning for a still-undecided future when he came across a late-night dessert shop while weekending in another city. With no similar concept in Miami, Gonzalez had an idea to start his own.
“I dropped out of school, quit my job, and started baking,” he says. When asked how his friends and family felt about the entrepreneurial endeavor, Gonzalez replies: “Everyone thought I was fucking crazy.”
Undaunted, Gonzalez took over his family kitchen, baking cookies in the pre-dawn hours to perfect recipes. In the pre-Uber Eats days of the mid-2000s, Gonzalez also delivered the treats. “I would wake up in the morning, deliver cookies, fall asleep in my car, and go home and start to bake again,” he says.
For several months, Gonzalez worked these back-breaking shifts while his parents remained skeptical. “I’m a first-generation Cuban-American, so all my parents wanted was for me to go to school. My mom was more supportive, but my dad almost kicked me out of the house,” he says.
Without an advertising budget, Gonzalez took to Instagram to promote his cookies when lightning struck. “One of my first orders came from a woman in California who wanted to surprise her pregnant daughter with some cookies.”
Gonzalez figured he would spruce up the delivery, adding a bottle of milk and some balloons. Delighted, the daughter posted her cookies on Facebook. A day later, orders started pouring in. “She was an executive for Universal. I had no idea.”
Soon, Miami lifestyle show, Deco Drive asked to film a segment, but there was one problem. “I was still baking out of my parents’ house,” says Gonzalez. He called in a favor and filmed the TV segment at a kitchen at Miami-Dade College. That’s when Gonzalez knew he had to set up shop.
Gonzalez signed a lease on an old SCUBA shop conveniently next to Florida International University’s main campus. But it took him a year to save up enough money to renovate the space and open it. All the while, Gonzalez was paying rent on the space, which he converted to a makeshift escape room to pay the bills.
Ten years later, Gonzalez has five Night Owl Cookies locations and is planning to open five more by the end of 2022. The entrepreneur also landed on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list. And, says Gonzalez, he plans to offer nationwide shipping in the coming months.
Gonzalez says that the key to his success is just pushing forward. “I feel like a lot of people can do this, but sometimes fear gets in the way.”
Gonzalez and his cookies will be at the 21st Birthday Dessert Party at the Food Network and the Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One in Miami Beach The event is hosted by Buddy Valastro on Friday, February 25 starting at 10 p.m.
Broken Palate is giving away a pair of tickets so you and a friend can sample Night Owl Cookies and dozens of other sweet treats (check out the lineup here). The tickets are a $95 value each.
The giveaway is for paying Broken Palate members who are 21 or older; if you’re interested in being a part of the drawing and you’re not a paying member of Broken Palate, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org with SOBEWFF Desserts in the subject line by Monday, February 21, 2022.