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Spirit Lake cafe offers cozy atmospher with fresh-baked cookies

By Renae B. Vander Schaaf

Date Modified: 03/05/2013 9:03 AM

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Hey, Good Cookies!

Address: 1310 A 18th St. Spirit Lake, Iowa

Phone number: 712-336-4179

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Drive-thru opens at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday.

Cookies: $11.95 a dozen and $11 for additional dozens

Lunch Special: Rueben Panini for $7.95 -- haved corned beef, a lot of sauerkraut, Swiss cheese on really good marble bread that stacks up high.

Soup: Chili with potatoes in a bread bowl for $6.95 and in a crock for $4.95

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa — Voted best coffee house three years in a row is an honor sisters Mary Ann Kliegl and Val Welch can be proud of. A business they began in their home 20 years ago is now an established, popular restaurant that owes its beginning to cookies!

Their lives began in California before their parents moved to Spirit Lake. Welch finished high school there but married and moved to Buffalo, N.Y. Kliegl married and returned to Spirit Lake. Stay-at-home moms, they talked often of what they could do. When Welch's husband took a job in the lakes area, the move brought the sisters together again.

For one year, the sisters baked and delivered cookies similar to a flower delivery business before renting a small downtown space. After expanding three times, Hey, Good Cookies! moved to its current location in 2002. With space enough to allow the sisters to expand into a one-stop cafe/shop with a cozy atmosphere for sharing a cup of coffee with friends, relaxing with a good book in their little reading lounge or shopping the gift shop.

Considered a small-batch bakery, cookies are baked fresh daily. The six cookie varieties offered at the beginning pretty much remain the core of Hey, Good Cookies! -- chocolate chip, triple chocolate chip, peanut butter M&M, snicker doodle, Marie's molasses (named after another sister who furnished the recipe) and oatmeal, which has been updated to oatmeal Craisins. Monster cookies have gained regular status along with a frosted sugar cookie.

Just for fun Hey, Good Cookies! has a Cookie of the Moment. The pick is always something new and different.

If cookies aren't your choice as the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee, you might find enjoyment in their scones, cinnamon rolls, bagels, cupcakes, bundt cake or even a slice of pie during the summer. In winter, pies can be purchased frozen-baked or unbaked.

Ice cream goes well with the treats or alone. Hand-Dipped Ashby's Sterling Ice Cream from Michigan caught the sisters' eye at a trade show with its high-quality ice cream and fun flavors.

Hey, Good Cookies! has become a popular spot for breakfast and lunch. The Good Morning Croissant consist of scrambled eggs, ham and American cheese. Diners can try the breakfast burrito or hasbrown frittata. Choices of clabatta sandwiches, wraps or grilled paninis are sure to please any appetite. They are often told the rueben panini is the best in the region.

The soup of the day is displayed on the board, with chili offered every day.

It's chili with potatoes, Welch explained.

"It is our mother's recipe. She grew up in a family of 12 children. To stretch the chili, grandma added potatoes," she said.

Everything we know about cooking, we learned from mom, Welch said.