Cookie lovers in the jazz district

Mother and daughter: Sheila Harris-Young and Toni Young own Bumzy's.

By Tessa Williams

Now that Bumzy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies is finally open on Fillmore near O’Farrell, the neighborhood will get to sample a recipe that’s been baked and savored by three generations of cookie lovers.

Sheila Harris-Young’s mother taught her to bake when she was growing up in Washington, D.C., and she remembers first making cookies for an orphanage her Girl Scout troop would visit. When she became a mother herself, she passed the cookie recipe and her baking talents on to her daughter, Toni Young, whose childhood nickname was Bumzy. Four years ago, after decades of feeding their family and friends, they began selling their cookies online. They’ve made an enterprise out of baking — bound by family ties and service to the community.

“There’s a need for an excellent gourmet cookie in this town,” says Harris-Young.
She and her daughter hope to fill it with Bumzy’s. They offer five kinds of cookies — three variations on chocolate chip, plus oatmeal raisin and sugar cookies. They also offer cold milk to wash them down — along with a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich made with homemade ice cream. They make their products by hand, from scratch, using quality ingredients.

“We’re a team,” says Young. “It’s not just the cookies. It’s the Bumzy’s experience.”

Mother and daughter say they bring more than just a new business and a new product to the Fillmore Jazz District. Customers will also get an independent, family-owned business whose owners are invested in serving the community.

“You could not have told me that after all these years I’d be selling those cookies I made for the orphanage,” Harris-Young says.

Her love of baking hasn’t changed since childhood, and neither has her instinct to serve the community — something she practiced during nearly three decades as an intensive care nurse and inculcated in her daughter as well. Together the two volunteer on Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Lima Center at St. Dominic’s Church, which offers the homeless refuge and a hot shower. Harris-Young has also led classes at St. Dominic’s as part of a spiritual life coaching program she designed. And every Friday, she works at the donation center at St. Anthony’s Foundation.

Neither plans to cut back on their volunteer commitments even with their new business up and running. “We’ll always find the time,” says Young. “Volunteering is a priority.”

Young-Harris says it’s a powerful thing to see her daughter at the helm of their new baking venture. “My mother — who was a wonderful baker — taught me, and it’s so sentimental for me to be teaching Toni,” she said. While Toni and her brother Taron were growing up, family time often came in the kitchen, where cookies were made, batter was consumed and laughs were freely shared. “It’s moments like that that are really priceless,” Young said about her memories of baking as a child. “I try to bring that into the cookies.”

The new business owners are well aware they’re opening in a tough climate. And their handmade confections carry a price: a dozen cookies cost $24.95. They’re confident, though, the simple deliciousness of their product will carry the day.

“The chocolate chip craze is going to be on,” said Harris-Young. “We want everyone to experience it. Don’t deny yourself.”