About eight years ago, Seattle baker Robin Wehl Martin once did door-to-door delivery for her friend, Molly Moon-Neitzel, owner of the namesake local ice cream chain. At the time, Moon-Neitzel was pregnant with her daughter and craved Martin’s perfectly chewy cookies. One day, Martin wasn’t able to drop off the cookies, and Moon-Neitzel’s husband, Zack, texted her in a slight panic, then had another suggestion. There was available retail space at 19th Ave and Mercer Street, where Molly Moon’s had a scoop shop. Maybe that would be more convenient?
Martin took that suggestion seriously, and a year later — in 2013 — Hello Robin was born. Since then, the charming shop has become a destination for some of the more sought-after baked goods in the city, including popular birthday cake cookies (vanilla with white chocolate and sprinkles) and ice cream cookie sandwiches made with her buddy Molly Moon’s concoctions.
A long-planned second location finally opened in U Village this week, as the shop announced via Instagram and Capitol Hill Seattle reported, marking a big step for the little bakery, which Martin runs with her husband, Clay.
“This was really four years in the making,” Martin tells Eater Seattle, explaining that she had asked to be on U Village’s radar awhile back, because she grew up going there and liked the sense of community around the area. While the COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans a bit, the baker is glad to finally arrive and says that neighboring businesses (even the just-opened location of national chain Shake Shack) feel like partnerships, with nearby restaurants, such as Ba Bar, encouraging her expansion efforts.
The new Hello Robin location is near the Anthropologie store, and features 14 cookie flavors, only available for takeout at the moment. All of the treats are the same as those in the original Capitol Hill shop, but a new creation debuting this weekend at both shops should be tempting. Hello Robin Manager Bess Goddard came up with a “back-to-school” flavor, which has dark chocolate chunks, brown butter, pretzels, and potato chips, with sea salt for good measure.
“The shop is so beautiful,” says Martin, adding that she hopes to add dine-in service when the time is right, but wants to make sure staff and customers feel safe before she does so. The new store has more room to roam (about 1,000 square feet versus the 700-plus square feet on 12th Ave), which will allow for more experimentation in the kitchen and, eventually, some hang-outs. The space — with good views of the cookie baking process — is also more wheelchair accessible than the Capitol Hill shop, and the proximity to Seattle Children’s and Ronald McDonald House is something Martin keeps in mind.
It wasn’t too long ago when Martin was uncertain what the future of Hello Robin would be, as the pandemic shut down the Capitol Hill shop for twelve weeks this past spring. She was throwing a “pity party,” she says, until other small businesses in Seattle stepped in to help. Pagliacci Pizza bought 20,000 cookies to give away to its customers (and paid full retail, even though it already owns a bakery in Macrina), Cone & Steiner put in a large order for retail sales, and Leschi Market purchased frozen dough. That, plus a loan from the federal payroll protection program, helped provide a lifeline before the Capitol Hill shop opened back up again in June for to-go orders.
Now, after seven years, Hello Robin finally debuts its first expansion in a challenging environment, but with plenty of optimism and those birthday cake cookies. “Seems like we all need a little joy right now,” says Martin.
- Hello Robin [Official]
- All coverage of Hello Robin [ESEA]
- There’s a New Shake Shack at U Village Opening Today [ESEA]