Burt and Kristin Teaff began Napa Cookie Company in 2010, and acquired Anna’s Danish Cookie company in 2018. However, their history and the history of both companies goes back much farther.
Melissa Teaff, Burt’s mother, had a catering business in the San Francisco Bay Area for 40 years. Burt virtually grew up in her shared catering kitchen, doing his homework after school at the counter while his mother was working. “An early memory,” Burt recalls, “was the popular lahvosh sandwiches, which we made for many events. When I heard Narsai David (the Bay Area’s celebrated radio food show host) explaining how to make them, I couldn’t believe it. I asked my mother, ‘How could people not know?’! I loved talking with all the cooks and bakers. My favorite was the lady who made wedding cakes, because she gave me the cake trimmings.”
Kristin Teaff also grew up in the Napa Valley. For many years she worked in wine and hospitality, specifically producing special events.
Melissa Teaff created Wine Snaps as an hors d’oeuvre with a taste profile to pair with wine. They were first served at a party she catered in 1998. In 2010 Wine Snaps were marketed as a stand-alone product under Napa Cookie Co.
The popularity of Wine Snaps, and the need for more production space, led the Teaffs to move production from their own kitchen to Anna’s bakery. When the bakery became for sale, Burt and Kristin bought it, adding Anna’s Danish Cookies to Napa Cookie Company, under the parent company name Roarke Incorporated. “It’s Interesting how small the food community is,” Kristin says. “We knew the history of Anna’s, the people, and the products, and we felt that the two companies fit perfectly together.”
Anna’s Danish Cookies began in 1935 when Anna Donnelly opened her bakery in San Francisco’s Mission District, specializing in traditional Danish cookies made from the Donnelly family’s recipes. Three generations ran the store for over 65 years and scores of San Franciscans made a tradition of gifting the cookies during the holidays, as well as on other celebrated occasions. Those that frequented Anna’s as well as those that received the cookies still remember holding the stiff white pastry box with the friendly Dane ‘Anna’ delivering a piping hot tray of cookies on its lid.
Ralph Donnelly ran Anna’s until he was well into his eighties. Since that time the bakery has transferred from family to nostalgic family in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today, sharing the gift of Anna’s Danish Cookies is a tradition that’s been passed to a new family.
Kristin says, “So many of our customers have loved the cookies their whole lives, and for many families a gift from Anna’s is a long-time tradition. One man told us that his mother sent Anna’s cookies to his father when he was in Germany during WWII. Many people remember buying cookies on the way home from Sunday school.”
The Teaffs are a team. Burt is primarily in charge of production, and Kristin is primarily involved in operations and maintaining their customer relationships, including personal and corporate gifts. Burt and Kristin hope that their young son, Roarke (for whom their parent company is named) will one day be doing his homework at the counter while cookies are being made. Right now, he mainly likes to climb on the boxes at the bakery.
“Both Burt and I grew up in families that valued food and entertaining,” Kristin says. “We are so fortunate that we can continue to cultivate those share loves at home and in our professional careers. We’re proud to continue the family-owned tradition of Anna’s Danish Cookies and to honor Burt’s mother with Napa Cookie Company.”