Insomnia Cookies, the late-night cookie retailer conceived by a University of Pennsylvania student in 2003, is relocating its corporate headquarters to Center City. It will take over a 26,000-square-foot space formerly leased by Walgreens at 1 S. Broad St., just below City Hall and directly across from the Ritz-Carlton.
The three-story space will feature a ground-level storefront and a second-floor test kitchen outfitted with ovens, mixers, ice cream freezers, and more for the company’s “cookievation” team. The cookievation team develops new flavors and products for national distribution (recent works include a red velvet cookie and Lil’ Dippers, mini cookies paired with a side of icing). Chief marketing officer Tom Carusona said final details are still in flux, but the plan is to have an “experiential store” where customers will be able to taste-test these experimental items and give feedback.
The third floor will be home to corporate offices and conference rooms. More than 80 full-time employees will work on a hybrid basis out of the Center City site, which will be adorned with neons and Insomnia’s purple signage.
Insomnia’s stores are often near college campuses, but in recent years, the company has opened outposts further afield, including at Broad and Washington and 9th and Wharton, where the CookieLab “speakeasy” opened last year. Expansion into more residential neighborhoods demonstrates Insomnia’s desire to “follow the consumer,” Carusona said.
“We’re no longer seen as just a college brand. We’ve grown significantly, and much of that is through trying to make sure that we can have a long-term relationship with our customers.”
Carusona added that the new space will better reflect Insomnia’s brand and position the company to attract the best talent. Its former headquarters, in an office park in Newtown Square, did not have a retail storefront nearby and could feel disconnected from its other operations.
“We really wanted to find a place that was a lot more representative of how awesome our brand is and be more connected back to Philly, where it all started,” Carusona said.
Insomnia founder and CEO Seth Berkowitz was a junior at Penn when he started baking cookies out of a West Philly house he shared with nine roommates. Insomnia’s first store opened in 2006 in Syracuse. It built up a fleet of food trucks that roved college campuses before becoming brick-and-mortar only in 2016. In 2018, Krispy Kreme bought a majority stake in the company.
Despite being a national chain — its 200th store opened in Exton last summer — Insomnia considers Philadelphia one of its most important markets. “We’ve got the strongest concentration of stores in the country in the Philadelphia region,” Carusona said. “In many ways, it already is the heartbeat of the company. This is about just doubling down on that connection,” he said.
The company projects the new headquarters will be complete in 2023. “We want to get there as soon as possible. We’re really, really excited about it,” Carusona said.