The serial entrepreneur discusses her path from opening a successful Denver bakery to launching a franchise system – and building a legacy.
When Denon Moore sold Cake Crumbs, the collection of Denver-based bakery concepts she founded in 2007 with her husband Sean, she thought she was done with baking.
After seven years of managing the business, which had grown to include two cafes, two food trucks and a wholesale production facility, the Moores were suddenly faced with an illness in their family, two ailing in-laws, and the responsibilities of raising two sons – compounding issues that taxed the couple’s energy and made running a thriving company nearly impossible.
“In 2017, we sold all of our businesses and left the industry to recuperate and focus on the family, and really pay attention to our health and wellbeing. …” Moore recalls.“I took a desk job shortly after selling Cake Crumbs and realized quickly, I don't belong behind a desk in front of a computer eight hours a day. It's not a good fit – it's probably a danger to society.”
Three years later, amid a global crisis, Moore finally came to terms with the idea that walking away from her passion was a mistake.
“I had become mournful of leaving the baking industry and decided, kind of at the pleading and begging of friends and family, to open another concept. And so I decided, with the help of Sean and our sons, Andrew and Carter, to open The Urban Cookie. …” Moore says. “The pandemic was a pivotal moment where it was just – life's too short to be doing something you don't like. Life's too short to not be true to yourself.”
The concept’s flagship location, which opened in Denver in January 2021, offers freshly baked, oversized cookies made in-house from scratch using the freshest ingredients available. Despite its impressive menu, though, delighting customers with traditional and unique “over-the-top” flavors wasn’t the only thing Moore had in mind when launching her new bakery. This time, she was on a mission to create something that would last.
Building a franchise legacy
As a seasoned business owner with nearly a decade of experience in the baking industry, Moore knew early in the process of developing The Urban Cookie that opening a single-location bakery wasn’t going to be enough to achieve her dreams of establishing a lasting legacy in the baking industry. Instead, Moore turned her attention toward creating a franchisable business – and she’s already making her mark.
“Our number one goal in opening The Urban Cookie was to make it a franchisable concept from day one. …” Moore recalls. “We knew that we weren't going to be able to make any kind of legacy business last if we were a one-off shop. And so our goals were to really create a legacy business that could grow and support us to our retirement years, and to support the family moving forward.”
For Moore, a key part of creating that legacy was making sure the new franchise’s organizational and legal foundations were strong from the start.
To achieve that goal, Moore began working with SMB Franchise Advisors early on in the franchising process to make sure she was making the right decisions along the way. To ensure the new franchise system’s legal needs were met, the company’s staff introduced Moore to The Internicola Law Firm and its founder, Charles Internicola, a franchise attorney with over 25 years of experience in the industry.
“We had a fantastic conversation with Charles and really felt connected. I think what was really important for us is that we felt heard. We are not experienced franchisors, and so it was important for Sean and I to feel validated and not just another name in somebody's books. Charles really allowed for that to be our experience and created a very welcoming environment for us,” Moore recalls.
Despite her experience and past success as the owner of several local bakery concepts, the process of founding a franchise still posed challenges for Moore – especially when it came to understanding the legal processes that come with building a franchise system from the ground up.
“This was a fast-moving project, and so there were times of confusion, times of kind of not understanding,” Moore says, adding that the team at The Internicola Law Firm jumped to help with the new franchise’s legal needs whenever they arose.
Clearing the hurdles
A key part of that assistance was the Internicola team’s commitment to providing quality advice and services with a fast turnaround – something that came in handy for Moore while building the franchise’s website.
“I had to ask, at one point, for some legal verbiage for our website. The turnaround on that, I think, was like two hours – it was insane. And it was just no hassle, no problem. It was exactly what I asked for,” Moore recalls.
Beyond legal verbiage for The Urban Cookie’s website, Moore says Internicola provided invaluable resources for both preparing and understanding the company’s Franchise Disclosure Document – a massive, federally-regulated legal document franchisors are required to disclose to franchisee candidates before selling a franchise.
“The biggest challenge is just not being familiar with the legal ins and outs of owning and operating a franchise – knowing that the government has put a lot of regulation into it, looking at everything. Reading the FDD, trying to understand this gigantic document, was probably the biggest hurdle for us. It was just really nice to be able to have somebody to call on to give us step-by-step details,” Moore says, adding that the pre-recorded videos provided by The Internicola Law firm were an important on-demand resource for learning about the FDD’s contents.
Having cleared those hurdles, Moore is ready for the next step as The Urban Cookie prepares to start selling franchises. As a new franchisor, though, Moore says she expects to face additional challenges as the company expands.
“I think our biggest hurdle is still coming, and that's knowing that Internicola is going to be able to help us sign up our first new franchise owners. Because we are an emerging brand here in Denver, we're a new business. I can't wait to call upon Internicola to help us sign up those folks, because I will be a deer in headlights for sure,” Moore says.
Despite its challenges, the experience of founding a franchise has been worth it for Moore – and so have the relationships she’s developed with other like-minded franchising professionals along the way.
“What we really love about the franchising industry is the camaraderie. …” Moore says. “We've had a really great time mingling and networking with the franchise industry – and I think that goes to say we're working with a really great law firm. Internicola is well-connected, and we've gotten to meet some great people because of who we chose to do our franchising with.”
Based on those experiences, Moore advises other new franchisors to make sure they’re working with experienced professionals that have a track record of success while developing their business.
“I think it's really important to know that you're working with a group of folks that have a lot of history, and they've supported a lot of well-known and fantastic concepts,” Moore says.
An expansive vision
As a new franchisor on a mission to leave her mark on her industry, Moore has made it a priority to establish a five-year vision for success as she works to grow The Urban Cookie and recruit franchisees in cities across the nation.
“Looking at the next five years, we'd like to grow the Colorado market, get comfortable with it, and then take our concept out heading towards Texas – we have a lot of loyal following in Texas,” Moore says, adding that she hopes to eventually expand to Florida from there.
Despite those plans, Moore says she’s keeping an open mind and remaining flexible as The Urban Cookie scales. Rather than dictate the company’s growth, she intends to let the market have the last word.
“We're just going to kind of see where the wind blows us. I think it's important to be open-minded for us and to kind of go where the markets demand us to be – and where we find buyers,” Moore says.
No matter where The Urban Cookie ends up in the future, though, its mission will be the same: “Spread joy, share cookies.”