In the world of delicious desserts, there are few things as universally beloved as a perfectly baked brownie.
But what happens when you want more than just the traditional chocolate square? You turn to Jim Friedman and Michael Mitilier, the innovative duo behind the sensation that is Brownie Bar.
Brownie Bar didn’t start with grand plans or elaborate strategies. It began with a simple quest for a good brownie. Friedman and Mitilier, the co-founders of Brownie Bar, found themselves searching for a brownie one evening. It didn’t have to be the perfect brownie—there was no need for frills or frosting—they just craved a simple brownie. Much to their surprise, they couldn’t find one anywhere, especially not during the late hours.
“There’s a cupcake shop, a cookie shop, a donut shop…but where’s the brownie shop?” Mitilier wondered.
This dessert dilemma sparked the idea of a dedicated brownie shop. Friedman and Mitilier embarked on a journey to create the perfect brownie with various toppings and flavors for all of Omaha to enjoy. But first, friends and family played an essential role in taste-testing and refining their creations. Eventually, the couple decided to test their brownie concept at farmers’ markets, asking patrons for input on which toppings worked best.
The response was overwhelming, and the demand for their unique brownies grew steadily. People kept asking, “Where’s your brick-and-mortar store?” and that’s when Friedman and Mitilier realized they were onto something special. They decided to take their brownie venture to the next level. Now, Friedman and Mitilier own and operate two locations, one in Rockbrook Village focused on retail, and another in the Old Market dedicated solely for catering and shipping for the e-commerce side of the business.
Friedman and Mitilier’s innovative twist on the traditional brownie shop is their unique “bartender concept.” This creative idea transforms the brownie experience into something truly special. Just as a skilled bartender crafts a perfect cocktail, Friedman and Mitilier give their customers the freedom to build their own brownie masterpiece.
“Our employees are brownie bartenders, and they can put together a six pack, twelve pack, a case, or even a flight of brownies for our customers,” explained Friedman.
The brownies themselves are shaped as bars too, as Friedman and Mitilier stray away from the traditional pan or sheet baking method. Each brownie is baked as an individual loaf, giving each brownie the coveted crusty edges and chewy centers.
Rather than offering pre-made brownies with fixed toppings, they offer a customizable experience where customers can choose from three base brownies and a tantalizing array of frostings, crumbles, and toppings. This customization not only caters to individual preferences but also invites customers to become active participants in the creation of their sweet treat. It’s a concept that adds an element of fun and creativity to every visit.
“We realized that with those three base brownies and the toppings that we have, there’s 1600 different combinations,” explains Friedman. “It’s basically endless.”
A key factor that sets Friedman and Mitilier’s Brownie Bar apart is their unwavering commitment to quality ingredients. In a world where shortcuts can compromise taste, they steadfastly refuse to do so. Instead of using generic ingredients, they prioritize the use of high-quality components in every brownie they bake.
A testament to their dedication is their choice to use real butter instead of oil, resulting in a richer, more decadent brownie that leaves customers craving for more. Their insistence on real eggs rather than powdered egg substitutes, pure vanilla, and 100% cocoa chocolate showcases their passion for delivering an exceptional from-scratch product. This commitment to quality shines through in every bite of their delectable brownies, making them a true sensation among discerning dessert lovers.
In addition to their thriving retail store, Friedman and Mitilier extend the reach of their delectable brownies through their catering services. Their catering offerings bring the sweet magic of Brownie Bar to a variety of events, from corporate gatherings to weddings and everything in between. Whether it’s an office party, a birthday celebration, or a special occasion, Friedman and Mitilier’s team ensures that their mouthwatering brownies are the highlight of the event, sharing the joy of exceptional brownies with the community, one event at a time.
Adding another layer of excitement, Brownie Bar also boasts a charming and mobile presence in the form of a food truck. This delightful food truck takes the deliciousness of their brownies on the road, bringing their delectable treats to various events, neighborhoods, and festivals.
However, their mission doesn’t end just there. One of the most heartwarming aspects of Brownie Bar’s journey is its deep-rooted connection to the community. Friedman and Mitilier have not only built a successful business but also created a sense of belonging and giving back. Here are some of the community-driven initiatives they’ve undertaken:
- Donations and Grants: Understanding the importance of community support, Brownie Bar introduced a grant program. They streamlined the donation process and started offering larger-ticket items on a quarterly basis instead of providing small gift cards for various causes. This approach allows them to make a more significant impact on community organizations and causes.
- Adopt a School: Brownie Bar initiated an “Adopt a School” program where local school children can earn brownie points. These points can be exchanged for sweet treats at the store, motivating students to excel academically and demonstrate kindness.
Friedman and Mitilier’s journey with Brownie Bar is nothing short of remarkable. While they’ve achieved tremendous success in Omaha, their dreams don’t stop there. They have their sights set on franchising their concept, spreading the joy of customizable brownies across the country.
With potential franchisees already expressing interest in locations like Denver and Kansas City, Brownie Bar’s future looks incredibly promising. The duo envisions using their original Omaha store as a training ground for new franchisees, ensuring that the unique Brownie Bar experience remains consistent across all locations.
Brownie Bar is more than just a bakery; it’s a testament to the power of innovation, community, and a deep love for delicious desserts. Friedman and Mitilier have built a unique and thriving business by following their passion and bringing joy to the lives of those around them. With the right venture capitalist, franchising is on the horizon, and the sweet success of Brownie Bar is bound to continue growing, one delightful brownie at a time.