From baking crepes with her grandmother on Easter Sunday to passing down family recipes to her two sons, Lisa Harris always knew her passion lay in baking, but she didn’t think it could be her career.
She realized the latter after she invented a healthy breakfast cookie and started selling them — with great success — at the coffee shop she owned, Caffe Portofino in Northport.
“I never thought the cookie business would take on a life of its own,” said Harris, 45, of Northport. “People love the cookies so much they kept telling me to sell them at wholesale.”
Harris bought the coffee shop in 2007 from its second owner and started selling her cookies, which she calls the Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie, in 2010. After three years, the cookies became so popular she realized she could sell the business and focus on the cookies full-time, which she did this past February.
She now franchises her line of cookies and baking mix to local coffee shops and gourmet grocery stores across Long Island — including Portofino, which Harris sold to one of her employees, Rosemary Lombardi.
“It’s an absolute ingenious idea,” said Lombardi, who has known Harris for four years. “It’s what people wanted, something convenient, healthy and tasty. We have a lot of requests and we run out quickly. She gave customers exactly what they were looking for.”
After creating the cookie, Harris went door-to-door until she found her first customer, Sweetie Pies in Cold Spring Harbor. She later began selling them to Roast Coffee in Patchogue and gourmet grocery store Christina’s Epicure in East Norwich. By 2011, her business had grown to such volume she could no longer bake at her home and she began renting out kitchens at local delis and bakeries.
Harris said the cookies were born from her desire to combine two loves: “I love cookies, but also eating healthy.”
Harris said the Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie is a “nutritionally superior product” made with natural ingredients and rich in Omega 3’s, whole grain, fiber and protein.
“The Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie is the cookie your body will thank you for,” she said.
The line of cookies now has five flavors — original, Dark Chocolate Flax, a gluten-free version of that, Peanut Butter Berry and Rise & Shine made with fresh cold-brewed coffee. She also sells a line of baking mixes on her website, lisaharrispantry.com.
Matt Barnard, a Manhattan attorney from Westbury, happened to stop in at Caffe Portofino in 2010 and was introduced to Harris for the first time. Since then, he’s ordered boxes of the peanut butter berry flavored cookies to have one each morning before work.
“I have a cookie ready to go every morning,” said Barnard, 30, who just ran his first triathlon on Aug. 17. “They really fit into what I was looking to have for breakfast. I’m a busy person, so having something like this that keeps me full throughout the day is great.”
About a month ago, Canadian company David’s Tea put her cookies and mixes in 20 of its U.S. locations, Harris said. And soon, she said her Miraculous Mixes — which includes varieties for pie crusts, breads, dessert cookies and other baked goods — will be sold at West Elm stores around the country.
“My baking went from time-consuming hobby to a real business,” Harris said. “I used to run Portofino all day and then bake until 2 a.m. It was so much work. Now, I’m just so fortunate to see my hobby turn into something so lucrative in such a short time. And it feels good to be a part of someone’s healthy addiction.”