SNOWFLAKE — Author Barbara Johnson said, “A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.” Owner of Celebrations restaurant Julie Hensley must believe that as well because she is taking baking cookies and other confections to a whole new level beginning May 1.

On a Monday six years ago, Julie and her mother, Rita Webb, met with Debbie Yordt, the entrepreneur for Celebrations. On Tuesday they met again and on Wednesday, they opened as the new owners of the restaurant. At that time the restaurant was located at 432 South Main and had already been written up in Arizona Highways magazine. Debbie and her husband were moving back to Iowa and this serendipitous transaction took place without a hitch.

Approximately four years ago the restaurant relocated to the building just past the Snowflake-Taylor Chamber of Commerce on Main and Julie is now the sole owner.

“I always liked to cook and bake as a child,” explained Julie, “but never thought I would be doing this. But if you have to work, and you do what you like and have good people that help and work, it is a hobby.”

“A couple of months ago I decided to add more flavored drinks to the bar,” said Julie “just to change it up a bit. Then I decided to take out the crafts section up front and make it a sweet shop.”

The empty shelves where the crafts were, are now going to be filled with just about any sweet you can imagine. The transformation is taking place right before your very eyes, and Julie is already giving customers a sneak peek of what will be available. The soda and ice cream bar is laden with a variety of confections attractively displayed and available for “grab and go” or eat in.

“It will be fun,” said Julie, as she excitedly rattled off her plans. “There will be old fashioned candy like you find at Cracker Barrel. We will have cupcakes, cookies, cakes, brownies, Rice Crispy treats, old suckers — the kind you would buy at the gas station but can’t find anymore — and jawbreakers, gum balls, donuts and fudge. Sweets from a few other local people will also be here like Sierra Baldwin who has Cookies & Crumbles — all of her stuff plus the caramels. Fudge, Nellie Owens bought the fudge part of Shevell’s business and it will be here.”

Starting with the cookies, Julie searched the Internet for a base recipe and then tweaked it to make it her own. There will be s’mores, chocolate chunk, chocolate chunk coconut, key lime coconut, orange cream, crownies — a combination cookie/brownie — and lemon which is half dipped in white chocolate.

“We will not have all of these all the time,” said Julie.”The flavors will be rotated so people get to experience a variety. We will bake twice a week all day, 14 to 16 dozen cookies. Once we are set up, people will be able to pick their cookies or cupcakes in a four or six pack.”

Cakes are on the menu, too. They will bake two at a time, one to serve in the restaurant and the other to be cut into slices for individual purchase. Julie said the most popular cakes they will offer will be the lemonade, peanut butter fudge, carrot with cream cheese frosting and German chocolate with butter pecan frosting. There will also be a wide variety of cupcakes.”

Cream and coconut flavors will be added to the soda fountain drinks and the ice cream flavors that will remain a constant include the ever popular cookie dough, bubble gum, mint chocolate chip and rocky road ice cream.

The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 pm and on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The sweet shop is available the entire time the restaurant is open but the sweet alone will also be open Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. after the restaurant closes. The hours may be extended as summer approaches.

There are some new menu items also being added to the regular and dinner menu beginning May 1. Julie prides herself on everything being fresh, not frozen. She said, “Daily we make scones, a variety of soups, quiche and for dinner our potatoes and rolls. I want consistency with everything whether I make it or someone else makes it — I want it to be the same — good fresh food.”

Celebrations does box lunches, caters events, offers high teas, serves family reunions and weddings. Since Julie took over the restaurant it has received a second write up by Arizona Highways and has been mentioned in several Mountain publications, as well as featured on Dan Davis’ TV segment.

May 1 is the launch date for the sweet shop inside Celebrations, but you can get a sample preview now.

American born author Ernestine Ulmer understood dessert. She wrote, “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.” Celebrations has got your covered with their “grab and go.”

Celebrations is located at 113 Main Street in Snowflake.

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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