In 1974, John L. Haber (or “Habey”) migrated to New York from North Carolina to pursue a career in the theatre. Within a year, Diamond Studs, a musical he directed and helped to create, opened Off-Broadway to enthusiastic reviews that fueled a successful nine-month run at the Westside Theatre followed by additional engagements on the road. When the excitement waned, Haber learned his first lesson about the ups and downs of this business called “show.” To pay the bills, he went to work in catering and restaurant kitchens, where he discovered he had a knack for baking. Haber drew upon his Southern upbringing to evolve a repertoire of shortbread and biscuit recipes, which he began to serve at catering jobs.
Clients, family and friends began to lobby Haber to market these baked goods. In 1983, this encouragement led him in partnership with colleague and kindred spirit Betsey Roberts to open Habey’s Cookies on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It was primarily a wholesale bakery with ancillary retail and mail order sales long before the worldwide web.
As the Habey’s product line evolved, the creations took on shapes and names that began to forge an identity in the marketplace: high quality cookies and biscuits that not only taste good, but have personality. These included Habey’s Babies, Babies Deluxe, Crown Jewels, Betseys, Cheese Biscuits and gingerbread Tar Heels.
The customer base grew significantly to the point Habey’s products were being sold in over 125 specialty-food and department stores nationwide, including Macy's, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Williams Sonoma, as well as Harrod's in London. In 1986, the building housing the bakery was sold, and Haber, torn between his two worlds of cookies and theatre, chose to focus on the latter.
In the intervening years, Haber has served as Director of Special Events for The Dodgers, a producing partnership responsible for over one hundred and fifty productions in North America (including over 30 Broadway shows), London, Europe and Australia. Their productions have received a host of accolades including 56 Tony Awards. Haber has continued throughout to bake his “classics” as well as to create an array of show cookies that began with brownies for Pump Boys and Dinettes, and custom shapes for Prelude to a Kiss, The Secret Garden, Guys and Dolls, Footloose, Titanic and later Jersey Boys among others.
Fast-forwarding to the spring of 2011 – on a whim Haber crafted some Doorbell Cookies for The Book of Mormon and cocoa shortbread Horses for War Horse as gifts to producer colleagues. One thing led to another and not so suddenly, “Habey’s” two worlds converged. Show Cookies from Habey's Kitchen was born.