No crumbling for this cookie

An old-fashioned oatmeal cookie is basic beginning for iconic It's Its

By Melissa Murphy/Staff Writer
Nader Shamieh and his sister, Stella DiManno, own and operate the Family Cookie Co. in Suisun City. (Brad Zweerink/The Reporter)
Product profile
Company name: Family Cookie Co.
Years in existence: 29
Products: Traditional cookies, cookie dough, and natural and organic cookies.
Number of employees: 8 to 10; more during peak summer season.
Employment types: Entry level jobs, with no experience or education required. There is a very low turnover rate; some employees have been with the company for 10 years. "They've become family," said one of its owners, Stella DiManno.
More information: www.stellasgourmet.com

Family Cookie Co. is its name and baking cookies is its game.

The family-owned Suisun City business has been happily baking since 1977, and its most frequently eaten product is part of a Bay Area icon - It's It Ice Cream Sandwiches, made by Burlingame-based It's It Ice Cream Co.

A traditional It's It is a scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two of Family Cookie Co.'s large, old-fashioned oatmeal cookies, all of which is then dipped in dark chocolate.

Family Cookie Co.'s 1,000-pound mixer produces more than 50,000 cookies in just one day. Those produced for It's It are delivered to Burlingame two to three times per week.

The Family Cookie Co. used to be the Burlingame company's next-door neighbor, but after It's It expanded, the cookie company had to find a new home. That's when the business moved to Suisun. It is now managed by Stella DiManno and her two brothers, Nader Shamieh and Jay Shamieh - the family's second generation to run the company.

"I love being involved in the company," Shamieh said. "I like it a lot, from baking to maintenance, to designing the packages the cookies are in."

According to DiManno, when Shamieh was younger, he spent hours trying to design a packaging machine.

"We were telling him to give it up," DiManno said. "But he kept working, and in the end, the machine he designed saved us five guys. He has an engineer's mind."

DiManno and Nader Shamieh just recently visited New Jersey to take a look at a new cutter that will increase the company's productivity from 600 pounds an hour to 4,000 pounds an hour.

"It's a drastic change," said Shamieh, the production manager.

With its increasing success, the Suisun company is improving its production line weekly.

It has expanded to include Stella's Gourmet pre-formed cookie dough, often sold for fundraising. Small circles of cookie dough are frozen and then placed into boxes for distribution; they're available in five different flavors - chocolate chunk, white chocolate macadamia, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter and snicker doodle.

The popularity of cookie dough fundraising is growing locally and has made its way to the Sacramento area. In charge of sales and administration, DiManno said she's excited about the cookie dough being used to help different community organizations.

In Fairfield, the fundraising aims to raise enough capital to build restroom facilities, a storage building and meeting rooms at Octo Fields in Fairfield.

"We give them a good deal on the dough," Shamieh said. "They get at least 50 percent of the money collected."

The Family Cookie Co. also sells boxes of baked cookies, which can also be found in local delis and coffee houses.

Melissa Murphy can be reached at dixon@thereporter.com.

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