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Tonya's Cookies, owned by granddaughter of Mama Dip, to hold grand opening Friday

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Tonya's Cookies is set to host its grand opening at its S. Elliot Road location on Friday, Nov. 16, 2023. Tonya Council, the granddaughter of the founder of Momma Dip's Kitchen, is the creator of the bakery.

Tonya’s Cookies, a bakery created by Tonya Councilgranddaughter of the founder of Mama Dip’s Kitchen — will host its grand opening on Friday at its 400 S. Elliot Road location.

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Tonya's Cookies is set to host its grand opening at it's S. Elliot Road location on Friday, Nov. 16, 2023.

Tonya grew up working in Mama Dip’s, where she learned how to cook and bake. She was inspired to replicate Mama Dip’s pecan pie in cookie form and later created her trademark pecan crisps.

“Sometimes I would go to the back to start baking items put to the bakery case, and started trying to make a cookie that tastes like my grandmother’s pecan pie,” she said. “I messed up a lot of ingredients, finally got it right and put them in the case and they started selling.”

Tonya's pecan crisp cookies were featured on Oprah Winfrey’s “Favorite Things” holiday list in 2021, and will be a staple in Tonya’s Cookies bakery. They are already sold at Mama Dip’s.

The restaurant was opened by the late Mildred Council, nicknamed “Dip” — which evolved into “Mama Dip” — in 1976. The restaurant, which has received national attention, was put on the market for sale at an asking price of $3.6 million in April.

When customers started suggesting she sell the cookies in boxes, Tonya realized she could sell the cookies at other locations as well.

Now, Tonya has bakery locations in both Raleigh and Chapel Hill and sells a variety of products such as cakes, pies, gift boxes, donuts, muffins, brittle, cinnamon rolls and various types of other cookies.

Tonya's Cookies — the new bakery — soft-launched earlier this month, and Tonya said the staff is already busy with Thanksgiving orders.

She said her days at the bakery start with early mornings, as she has to keep her inventory of ingredients up to speed with the traffic the bakery has received since opening.

Spring Council, Tonya’s mother and daughter of Mildred, said Tonya had “taken this on herself.” She said, while opening a business is different now for Tonya than it was for Mildred almost 50 years ago, Tonya has done a great job.

“When they were really little, they didn’t like to play house, they played cooking in the kitchen,” she said.

Spring works for Mama Dip’s as project manager and runs the restaurant’s website. She also sells Mama Dip’s cornbread mix and sauces.

She said she helps Tonya in the bakery by making items such as scones and banana cakes, as well as running errands on her days off.

Tonya is also in the process of opening a cafe next door to Tonya’s Cookies, which will feature soups, salads and sandwiches. The bakery will also have specialty items and deals such as Funnel Cake Friday and student discounts on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Christie Whitby, a manager at the UPS store beside Tonya's Cookies, is a regular customer and helped Tonya clean the space and prepare for the opening.

“I'm just all just excited for her and the business that will be coming,” she said.

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Tonya's Cookies is set to host its grand opening at it's S. Elliot Road location on Friday, Nov. 16, 2023.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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