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New Celebrity Bakery CEO refreshes beloved cookie brand

Celebrity Cafe & Bakery CEO Brian Livingston has tossed as many as 4,000 cookies in the garbage in the past few weeks.

The new operator of four Celebrity Bakeries in D-FW says the stores had slumped, occasionally serving stale or burned cookies and a dated menu. The flagship store in Highland Park didn’t seem to match its high-class neighbors: The kitchen was filthy. The five-blade fan above the waiting area had only two blades remaining. The cookies weren’t as good as they used to be.

Livingston and his wife Brittany Livingston are taking over four Celebrity Bakeries and plan to make cosmetic and staffing changes to each location. They started with Highland Park, which closed for a few days while crews re-painted the teeny bakery and scrubbed the kitchen.

When it reopened the week of Thanksgiving, the place was already abuzz. Moms and teens flitted into the shop, ordering holiday pies or buying a famous iced sugar cookie. Some commented on the new chandelier replacing the old fan, and many politely made requests of the new owners: Bring back the sticky buns! We want more flavored iced tea! Will you make me a BLT?

Those regulars likely remember Celebrity Bakery back when it was run by its original owners, Barbara and Bill Harris, from 1989 to 2007. Barbara regularly sat on the patio of the Highland Park bakery Celebrity’s first shop greeting customers.

As if years hadn’t passed, Barbara and Bill Harris were back on the Celebrity Bakery patio the week before Thanksgiving, greeting customers like always. They’re not running the business again; Barbara will serve as a restaurant consultant to help bring the bakery back to its “original glory,” as Livingston explains.

“This was my baby,” she said.

Harris made Celebrity into a sophisticated bakery brand one that made personal cakes for the Perot family and for Dallas Cowboys events. She introduced the store’s most popular items: the iced sugar cookies, cranberry chicken salad and flavored iced tea.

“I could probably run a store based on those three items,” Livingston says.

Livingston wants to revert to the menu Harris created. All four bakeries will eventually see a menu makeover and updates to the interiors of the stores. He wants to add grab n go breakfast and gluten-free cookies, among other items. And he hopes to grow Celebrity Bakery to 10 stores in D-FW.

Meantime, Livingston is on quality control. Which means: He samples a cookie from every batch.

“I’ve probably gained 15 pounds in a few weeks,” he says.