Visitors entering Splurge, the sweet treat emporium located at 105 Main Street in Millburn, immediately find themselves enveloped by the heavenly scent of freshly-baked confections. The next thing they notice is the warm welcome from the bakery’s owner Julie Winer and her culinary crew.
A Short Hills resident, Winer combined her marketing and sales background with her passion for one-of-a-kind desserts and found herself with a winning recipe.
While the retail location opened in October 2010, Splurge officially began four years earlier in Winer’s kitchen. Hearing that an author was coming to town to promote a new book, the baker generously offered to donate 250 rectangular cookies bearing the book’s cover to be used as favors.
“The phone started ringing the next day,” she recalled.
The shop’s signature logo cookies, which can be customized for any occasion and are equally popular with individuals and corporations, were featured in Southern Bride when the delicious treats served as a tasty take on place cards.
Speaking of weddings, the cookies have also been well-received as a shower favor, Winer noted.
“We place a baby picture of the bride on the cookie with the caption, ‘The future Mrs. Smith…’ They’ve been a big hit,” said the entrepreneur, who added, “I am up nights thinking of ways to bring the newest and freshest ideas to my customers to make them look like heroes when they bring a dessert, celebrate a birthday, select special treats to bring for visiting days at camp, or serve cookies that start a conversation.”
Continuously striving to provide guests with a unique and delicious experience, Splurge is expanding its offerings ahead of a grand re-opening planned for fall. The celebration will coincide with the release of the “Best Of” issue of Millburn-Short Hills magazine in which Splurge was honored in two categories, capturing “Best Bakery” for the third time and “Best Party Place” for the second year. Winer attributes Splurge’s success to the creativity of her bakers who craft everything from scratch in small batches.
“We pride ourselves on using only the finest ingredients, including Valrhona cocoa powder, Belgian chocolate, fresh bananas, carrots, and homemade lemon curd,” she said. “Our baking facility is right in our store for all to see the incredible design and work that goes into every sweet morsel. We are always on trend, constantly adding new sweet treats for all to enjoy.”
Some of the most recent additions include mini-pies, perfect for picnics and backyard get-togethers. Flavors include chocolate marshmallow, a summery substitute for S’mores, and traditional favorites, such as apple, cherry and blueberry. Mini-pies start at $2.00.
Family photo cookies, dubbed “homesick cookies,” are ideal for shipping to lonely campers who suddenly find themselves missing that pesky kid brother or sister. Push-up and cake pops, Splurge Couture and rainbow cakes are also going like, well, hot cakes.
Winer said she and her bakers are hungry for ideas from their customers as well. Splurge recently designed a Bar Mitzvah cake to match the celebration’s invitation at the request of the family. The result was a Jackson Pollock-meets-Alexander-McQueen-style creation that perfectly captured the party’s paintball theme.
One-Stop Party Emporium
Another thing that sets Splurge apart is its on-site birthday parties. Winer recognizes that birthdays are a big deal and wants each celebrant and his or her guests to have a special day they’ll always remember.
“Our parties are non-stop fun for everyone attending,” said Winer, who has tested out new ideas on her daughter, much to her delight. “Everyone is busy at all times. Every party includes ‘make your own pizza,’ along with a decorating activity. The children love rolling out their own pizza dough and adding the ingredients necessary to make a delicious pie. It’s funny, parents always ask if they can buy our dough because the kids and themselves really enjoy it. However, we have to tell them we do not sell it. The dough is very fresh and does not come with any preservatives, giving it the flavor they all rave about.”
Splurge takes care of Mom and Dad as well. Parents are provided with complimentary coffee and a sweet platter.
Each party is customized to suit the taste and age of the birthday boy or girl. Children 4 and older enjoy decorating cake, cookie or cupcakes while older kids and budding Top Chefs love Splurge’s challenge and competition parties.
“We even have an ultimate party that includes secret ingredients and parents as judges,” Winer explained. “I would also have to say the open glass in the store that allows parents and family members to watch their children as they party with Splurge makes it a fun atmosphere for all. We have special events for adults too. In fact, we will be unveiling some new party themes for kids and adults coming this fall.”
The bakery also plans to expand its selection of cake-toppers, candles and party favors to create a one-stop shopping experience for customers.
Neighborhood Feel, Global Appeal
Located across from Taylor Park, Winer loves seeing children and their families stop in for an afternoon pastry. Dogs, too, can indulge. Splurge offers peanut and oatmeal treats, which have proven quite popular with the four-legged community. Tables and chairs will soon be placed outside the bakery to accommodate additional customers as well as their pets.
Opening her business in a vibrant area has been a dream come true for Winer, but Splurge’s appeal spreads far beyond Essex County. The bakery has shipped its fare as far as Hawaii. Tins and colorful hat boxes lend an air of sophistication for recipients to enjoy.
Splurge is also committed to giving back. Supporting breast cancer research and awareness, the bakery donated cookies bearing inspirational quotes to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. It also contributes a sheet cake to Jake’s Ride each year. Other causes supported include CASA, the American Cancer Society, and Garden Academy, a school in Maplewood which serves the educational needs of children with autism.
Winer is thrilled to see her business continue to grow. “I always wanted to own and operate my own business where my sales ability could be utilized to help customers create delicious dreams,” she said.
Check back with The Village Green for more details on Splurge’s reopening as it approaches.
For more information, visit www.splurgebakery.com or call 973-379-0740. Splurge is open Monday – Sunday · 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and located at 105 Main Street · Millburn, New Jersey.