(From left to right) Dirty Dough Store Manager Sheree Sterling and Franchisee Isaac Aldridge stand in front of a themed wall. This Springfield location is set for a soft opening on June 18, 2024. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

To read this story, please sign in with your email address and password.

You've read all your free stories this month. Subscribe now and unlock unlimited access to our stories, exclusive subscriber content, additional newsletters, invitations to special events, and more.


Opening the first Dirty Dough Cookies in Springfield has proven to be a tumultuous ride for Franchisee Isaac Aldridge, but the official opening of the cookie store is so close he can practically taste it.

Dirty Dough, located at 2515 S. Campbell Ave., Ste. 100, will have a soft opening June 18 and a grand opening celebration about a month later, Aldridge said. The Utah-based franchise has been in the works for Springfield for about a year-and-a-half, but has had some issues with securing a location to lease. Those issues delayed its opening.

The new store is in the middle of The Creek, a mixed-use development off of South Campbell Avenue, consisting of multiple retail shops and restaurants, including Palm & Paddle Grille. Aldridge said one rare quality of his Dirty Dough location is that it will feature a drive thru.

“This is the first franchise I’ve been involved with,” Aldridge said at the cookie store June 4. “So, I’ve had to learn on the fly.”

“Some weeks I’m an electrician, some weeks I’m an accountant. I’ve just had to figure out all the different little bits and pieces to it.”

Dirty Dough vs. Crumbl, the Utah Cookie Wars

Dirty Dough Cookies makes a chocolate cookie containing frosted circus animal cookies. (Photo by Dirty Dough Cookies)

Dirty Dough Springfield will open just after its biggest competitor, Crumbl Cookies, opened a second store in the Queen City in 2024. Both franchises hail from Utah, ensuing what has been dubbed the “Utah Cookie War” as the two companies battle it out to gain territory across the United States. The so-called war has even involved litigation between the companies.

Dirty Dough Cookies, known for its gourmet-filled cookies and delectable toppings, has more than 55 locations, 10 food trucks and more than 40 stores under construction, according to a company press release. The cookie company, which embraces the messy when it comes to recipes, was founded in 2018 and has more than 450 franchises sold.

There are three Dirty Dough stores coming to Missouri in Ballwin, Chesterfield and Springfield, according to the company website.

A Springfield cookie war of neighbors?

Isaac Aldridge is the franchisee of Springfield's Dirty Dough location. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Originally set to open in late summer 2023, the Dirty Dough Springfield franchise has run into some hiccups along the way that pushed back the opening date, Aldridge said. The cookie store was set to open off of Kimbrough Avenue, close to downtown, going as far as to engage in lease discussions with the landlord. That location would have placed Dirty Dough right next door to Insomnia Cookies.

“There was a lot of pushback from Insomnia Cookies,” Aldridge said at Dirty Dough June 4. “They were able to find some restrictions to keep us from moving in next door. They didn't want the competition that close.”

After a lot of back and forth, Aldridge had to abandon the plans for the Kimbrough store and started looking for a new location, he said. The search didn't take long until he landed on The Creek location. The only problem: It was still under construction, so it would take some time before Dirty Dough could officially move in.

“There's been ups and downs with the complexity of opening something like this,” Aldridge said.

Breaking the franchising mold to make it more accessible for entrepreneurs

Dirty Dough is located at 2515 S. Campbell Ave., Ste. 100, and will have a soft opening on June 18, 2024. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Aldridge signed a five-year lease at the location, declining to disclose the terms of the lease agreement, which was signed in late 2023. The franchisee also declined to disclose a total financial investment for Dirty Dough Springfield.

Rent at the new store is “a little bit higher than what we had downtown on Kimbrough, but it's still well in the range that we're happy with,” Aldridge said.

Dirty Dough has a franchise fee of almost $50,000 with a 7% royalty fee, according to the company website. The cost of building a store is about $161,000.

“I will say the financial investment for Dirty Dough is significantly smaller than most other franchise opportunities,” Aldridge said. “One of the missions that Bennet Maxwell had when he founded Dirty Dough is he wanted to lower the barrier of entry for entrepreneurs.”

The Creek is owned by Equanimity Enterprises, LLC, according to the Greene County Assessor's Office records. The over 12,000-square-foot center had an appraised value of $1.2 million. Equanimity Enterprises is registered to Greg Walker of Springfield, according to Missouri Secretary of State records.

“This location is probably going to work out better than our previous one even,” Aldridge said, highlighting the store's proximity to La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Springfield South. “We're going to get traffic from in town, out of town, people staying on vacation, people going to the Bass Pro.”

“I think location wise, it's just better real estate.”

Leaving Utah to make cookies in Missouri

Isaac Aldridge, owner of Springfield's Dirty Dough location, is happy with this particular location because of the drive-through amenity. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

At the end of 2022, Aldridge and his family were living in Orem, Utah, a small city in the northern part of the state. His wife was pregnant and he knew he needed to move somewhere more spacious and more affordable to start his family.

Springfield is “just a lot less crowded, a lot cleaner and greener here,” Aldridge said. “And we really wanted that. We wanted room for our kids to run around.”

As he began to prepare for such a huge life leap, he realized he needed to change his career, and he started looking into possible Dirty Dough franchise locations, he said. As Aldridge was leaving Utah, he wanted to take one of state's most notorious cookie companies to new territory.

Aldridge has an investing partner in the Dirty Dough Springfield franchise, Cory Campbell, who is also based in Utah. Campbell is not involved in the operations of the business and has a 30% equity position, Aldridge said.

The Aldridges officially made the move in February 2023, and Isaac Aldridge has been focused on opening the franchise since. Aldridge said he became a Dirty Dough franchisee by April 2023, with rights to the entire Springfield metro area. Aldridge still works full time at Russell Cellular as a payroll manager.

Dirty Dough Springfield is in the midst of hiring before the soft opening June 18. Aldridge said the business will need about 10 employees and it has hired eight so far, including Sheree Sterling, store manager. While Sterling officially joined the team about two weeks ago, she has been in communication about the role with Aldridge for about six months.

Dirty Dough Cookies Store Manager Sheree Sterling explains she has hired eight of the ten staffers she hopes to start with initially. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Aldridge is handing over the reins of the day-to-day operations to Sterling, relying on her “to run a business to her full capabilities,” she said.

Aldridge is letting her “run the entire place as if it said ‘Sheree' outside,” Sterling said with a laugh. “I'm his boss.”

All that's left on the new store is some paperwork with the City of Springfield and the installation of menu display boards inside the cookie shop, Aldridge said. At the moment, the franchisee wants to focus all his effort on getting the first Dirty Dough Springfield store in peak shape, but he has already started thinking about long term expansion plans.

While the potential for a second Springfield brick-and-mortar location is possible, Aldridge said he also had some other ideas. Dirty Dough also offers franchise rights for food trucks, and Aldridge said he would love to eventually open a couple around town.

“There's this possibility of a brick-and-mortar and then a food truck or two that can go to festivals and stuff in the summer and do that kind of thing,” Aldridge said, adding that he is in no rush to make the next move. “We're taking it one day at a time.”

“We're almost at an advantage going a little bit slower, taking our time and doing what we feel is the right way.”

Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins is the business and economic development reporter for the Hauxeda. Collins graduated from Glendale High School in 2011 before studying journalism and economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously worked for Bloomberg News. Contact him at (417) 849-2570 or rcollins@hauxeda.com. More by Ryan Collins