Myrtles Makes OG Cookies The Size Of Your Face. Soon, Theyll Be At Marble City Market

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Take a peek inside Marble City Market as construction continues on the upcoming food hallTake a peek inside Marble City Market as construction continues on the food hall coming to the Regas Square building in downtown Knoxville.Brianna Paciorka, Knoxville News Sentinel

One food hall isn't enough for Dustin Cochran, who is preparing to bring Myrtle's Bakehouse to Marble City Market, in addition to the Kern's Bakery food hall scheduled to open next fall. 

Cochran, who purchased the regionally famous Richy Kreme Do-Nuts in Maryville last year, said he was contacted by Marble City Market to bring his face-sized cookies to the food hall at 333 W. Depot Ave. 

Marble City Market is scheduled to open in a matter of weeks. 

"They offered us a pretty good deal to do this," said Cochran, who was approved by the food hall to continue providing wholesale products and operating at the downtown farmer's market. 

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Myrtle's can complement the vendors

Cochran doesn't see his other ventures as competition but, rather, a potential boost to Marble City Market's overall business. He plans to drop a card advertising the food hall in every bag of cookies he sells. 

"My opinions are Kern's is a place you can go and spend a day," he said about the forthcoming South Knoxville food hall, which could include an entertainment venue and office space. "This is going to be a dinner, lunch, meeting (kind of place)." 

Cochran believes his cookies will only boost what other vendors are offering at Marble City Market. No one is going to come eat two meals, Cochran said, but they could grab a meal from another vendor before purchasing a cookie — or even bring a cookie home. 

Plus, the sweet treats are "giftable," he said. 

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'Pucker Up' cookies and whoopie pies

Cochran said the business — named after his sports-car-driving, cigarette-smoking and generally "cool" grandmother — will start out offering three permanent cookies and three rotating options. 

The permanent offerings are the OG with chocolate chips and sea salt, the Pucker Up sugar cookie with lemon icing and the Scruffy City with espresso chips, toffee and pecans. An oatmeal with cranberries cookie could be among the rotating options. 

Each cookie will cost $5 plus tax and will be made fresh daily. The dough, however, will be pre-made at Richy Kreme before being shipped frozen to the food hall each day.

Cochran told Knox News he can't wait for food hall guests to be greeted by the smell of baking cookies. 

Myrtle's is also making an whoopie pie exclusive to Smash Knoxville, a fellow Marble City Market vendor. In fact, Cochran already knows many of his Marble City Market neighbors, who encouraged him to join the food hall.

Cochran said he was the second-to-last vendor to sign on, and "it felt cool to have people cheering us on." 

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Refining recipes, remembering his past

When Cochran sat down to craft his cookie recipe, his friends and family assured him "over and over" that his product was great. Just when Cochran thought it was finished, he changed three things at once — a major "no-no" in the baking world, he said. 

Richy Kreme Donuts owner cookies at Kern's Bakery food hall South KnoxvilleRichy Kreme Donuts owner Dustin Cochran talks about his upcoming line of cookies named after his grandma, Myrtle. The chocolate chip cookies are almost half a pound each.Calvin Mattheis, Knoxville News Sentinel

Those changes took his cookies to the next level, and he hasn't looked back. Except to remember where he came from. 

Cochran brought on former coworker and fellow chef Jason Timmons to help grow his businesses. Timmons told Knox News he has been making cookies since he was old enough to read, starting with Nestle Toll House cookies at just 5 years old. 

Cochran's passion for baking cookies partially comes from his college days, when a baking instructor would make students scoop, bake and package cookies to sell in the student dining area at Walters State Community College. 

She was hesitant to share her recipe with Cochran (or any students, for that matter) but eventually obliged in return for his help.

The recipe called for 50 pounds of flower and simply said "bake" — no temperature, no time. 

"I bet I messed that recipe up 20 or 30 times," he said. 

For her, it was all about creating something special for other people to enjoy. Cochran is looking to do the same thing, even beyond the cookies and doughnuts he makes. 

Working to create 'lasting memories'

The success of Myrtle's will be reinvested in Maryville to help grow the area around Richy Kreme, Cochran said. He has purchased a nearby building he hopes will become a coffee shop, and he strives to be "community driven." 

“If we could buy that block today, I'd buy it" Cochran said. "Growing our company is going to create those opportunities for people. ... To me, I go into work every day and work hard and make doughnuts. But I also get to be impactful." 

Fighting back tears, Cochran told Knox News nothing makes him happier than seeing a father turn to his son and say Myrtle's cookies are the best he has ever eaten. One goal for Myrtle's is to create "lasting memories" and remind customers of special moments from their life, Timmons said. 

"I made that with my hands, and you're going to eat it," Cochran said. "There's not much more of an intimate thing than eating." 

Cochran said he could re-brand his Marble City Market business at some point after opening at Kern's, which will have separate ownership. He plans to implement an online ordering system that allows people to pre-pay and pick up cookies at the food hall or Richy Kreme. 

Marble City Market is located 333 W. Depot Ave. and will be comprised of 11 food vendors, a full-service bar and Topgolf Swing Suites. Vendors include Paysan Sandwich Shop, Po'Richard's and The Corner's Pizza. 

Check back regularly at for more stories about Marble City Market as the opening date approaches. As always, Knox News is the best source for downtown development and restaurant news. 

Ryan Wilusz: Knoxville's downtown explorer and urban reporter

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