At 38, Richard Pellerano left his business career for a vocational baking and pastry program at the Robert Morgan Educational Center in Miami. The plan was to open a dessert cookie shop with his wife, Krystina.
It was straightforward, if not ambitious, for the husband who loved to cook, but prior to his schooling, had little baking experience. Now, roughly three years later, the two are parlaying that career move into Mingos Cookie, a Miami-themed, dessert-and-cookie-focused Lexington restaurant set to open on March 6.
“Our whole idea and concept behind all this is literally to bring a dessert onto a cookie,” Richard explained to Free Times. “Whatever dessert you can probably think of, we try to make it into a cookie. But still keeping the integrity of a cookie.”
The two plan to offer a stable of 14 regular cookie combinations that range from chocolate chip to more unusual options, like a red velvet cookie, while including monthly specials and more around the holidays — a Lucky Charms cookie for St. Patrick’s Day, for example. The shop will also serve coffee, of which they hope to offer flavors that match their cookies, and bubble tea.
In true mom-and-pop shop style, the couple have done most of the interior work in the former beauty shop themselves. They hope to make the restaurant a family0friendly spot — in contrast to college-oriented shops like Insomnia Cookies — and cater to the youth with an “Instagrammable” interior that includes things like a homemade flower wall and other photo-friendly touches.
“We did everything together,” said Krystina, who glued down the flower wall. “Everything, you know, is us.
The color choices for the interior, bright pink and light blue, stem from their past home of Miami and mirror the “Miami Vice” color palette. Even the shop’s name plays into the theme, as it shortens the word "flamingos."
The choice to mix cookies with other types of desserts is an explicit effort to be distinct from other restaurants in the area, while also allowing them to get creative
“You can go and get chocolate chip cookies from Walmart,” Krystina explained. “I need to make something that is going to make you get in your car and drive over here.”
Opening the shop meant settling a disagreement. Krystina is decidedly un-entrepreneurial, while Richard is the opposite. The choice of concept, then, is a compromise, allowing Richard to chase a goal he was excited about, while allowing Krystina to indulge her love of sweet foods.
When they agreed to pursue opening the restaurant, they still lived in Miami and Richard had to complete his schooling. They moved to Lexington in August to open the store and be closer to Krystina’s family.
The couple had planned on opening a Mingos food truck first, but low rent prices on brick-and-mortar spaces amid the pandemic lured them to their current location. But a pending sale on the building pushed back their lease, and they had to bide their time before starting work on the shop.
The two view their Lexington location as a prime spot for their cookie shop. They pointed to the suburb's fast growth in recent years and their desire to be a family destination matching the area's populace.
They still invested in a food truck and plan on launching it in the future at popular events like the Soda City Market in downtown Columbia. Richard said the mobile operation will help them test other local areas for potential expansion.
“I don’t want to say our goal is to become a franchise, because I think we’re going to lose a little bit about what we’re passionate about in doing so,” Richard said. “Do we want to open a few more stores in Columbia? Yes.”
Mingos Cookies is located at 5580 Sunset Blvd. Suite D in Lexington. A ribbon cutting ceremony is set for March 4, with a grand opening event on March 6.
The shop will be open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.