Insomnia Cookies Expands into Canada With 1st Canadian Location Opening in September [Interview]

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Some great news for insomniacs in Canada.

Insomnia Cookies, a brand known for delivering warm cookies to satisfy late-night cravings, particularly for the university community, is officially opening its first store in Canada September 9 at York University in Toronto.

Insomnia Cookies was conceptualized in 2003 at the University of Pennsylvania when founder, Seth Berkowitz, set out to fill the void in late-night food delivery options, specifically when it came to satisfying his sweet tooth. Today, Insomnia Cookies is a rapidly-expanding late-night bakery concept headquartered in Philadelphia, with over 245 locations  and counting, on or near college and university campuses across the U.S., and now in Canada.

Insomnia Cookies at York University in Toronto, Ontario (Image: Insomnia Cookies)
Insomnia Cookies at York University in Toronto, Ontario (Image: Insomnia Cookies)

Sébastien Piché, Regional Director, Canada, said the brand specializes in cookies, ice cream and also milk and non-milk products delivered late at night until 1 a.m. or 3 a.m. depending on the days of the week.

Sébastien Piché

“We deliver them warm all the time,” he said of the cookies.

Tom Carusona, Chief Marketing Officer, said about 65 to 75 per cent of the brand’s stores are in some way associated with a university.

Tom Carusona

“That could mean that they’re within walking distance of campus. It could mean they’re on campus or it could be in a city like New York City near Columbia University but you’re within the city. You’re part of the city but you’re servicing that college community. It’s a very important part of the brand. It’s where we started and it will be a continued part of the brand which is obviously why we’re so close to York,” he said.

All Insomnia Cookies locations do dine-in, takeout and delivery. But it’s most well known for its warm cookie delivery. Locations are typically between 800 to 1,000 square feet. All the cookies are baked in each location but the cookies are centrally produced so that it can ensure quality across its entire footprint. There are about 20 different flavours always on the menu.

Insomnia Cookies at York University in Toronto, Ontario (Image: Insomnia Cookies)
(Image: Insomnia Cookies)

Piché said there’s “a big white space” in Canada for the brand to grow.

“It’s the perfect product for late-night delivery that touches students for sure because it’s part of the DNA but also extending to regular consumers that are looking for different options late night and the evening and also for light industrial areas where we have offices around that are looking for something a little bit different than they would typically get from a traditional bakery concept that they would get in their area,” he said.

“This is what’s interesting with York as a first step. We do have a nice combination student campus for sure as we are on campus, but the 10-kilometre radius we’re around has a lot of residential and a lot of light industrial as well. It’s a good way for us to create some awareness about our brand, not just from a student base but also globally.”

Carusona said the company goal is for more than 50 locations in Canada and maybe close to 100.

“It’s hard to say that because we’re just opening now. We want to make sure we feel really confident in the brand. We’ve seen it work in the U.S. Since I’ve been here we’ve added well over 100 stores in just the last few years. We’re not franchised in North America at all. These are all company-owned stores. So I feel really confident certainly within the Greater Toronto Area, Montreal, Vancouver,” he said. 

“There’s lots and lots of great places for us to open up and our strategy with real estate is kind of twofold. One is certainly to be where the college students are but the second thing is what we call our own the night strategy. Finding the places where people are up and out enjoying the night, going to restaurants and bars, central business districts where lots of young people live, get delivery, are out at night. There’s lots and lots of that across Canada. We feel really confident and are excited about our expansion.”

Insomnia Cookies at York University in Toronto, Ontario (Image: Insomnia Cookies)
Insomnia Cookies at York University in Toronto, Ontario (Image: Insomnia Cookies)

The brand has produced a specific cooking just for Canada that includes SKOR. 

“Our approach to the menu is what we call a how you dream it approach,” said Carusona. “The thought is we want to give our Insomniacs as many flavours as possible to choose from and then as many ways to put them together as possible . . . There’s lots and lots of different ways to enjoy the flavours and that’s really important for our Insomniac community.”

Insomnia Cookies’ first Canadian location is at 85 The Pond in The Quad at York University.

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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