Twisted Sugar

Lakelanders will soon have a new place to cure their dessert cravings. John and Whitnee Mitchell of Lakeland plan to open Twisted Sugar, a gourmet cookie franchise, at 3958 S. Florida Ave., in an area just south of the Polk Parkway near other food, beverage and dessert chains.

The shop, tentatively scheduled to open April 22, will be take-out only, and products will be available for delivery through several services.

“We love living in Lakeland and watching the economic growth the community is experiencing. We chose the location for Twisted Sugar on Florida Avenue because the store is central to restaurant foot traffic,” John Mitchell said. 

The Mitchell family

The couple frequented Twisted Sugar while living in Utah, where they met in college.  The Mitchells moved to Lakeland in 2016 to “escape the Utah winters,” and to be closer to family. John, 41, grew up in St. Augustine, while his wife, Whitnee, 33, is from Montana.

John has founded several companies and works as a remote database engineer; Whitnee is a Realtor and real estate appraiser trainee. The couple said they decided to open a franchise in Lakeland because they believe there’s a demand for it.

“We felt there was a missing product as far as dessert options in Lakeland,” said John Mitchell, questioning who doesn’t love a good cookie.

Twisted Sugar is known for offering cookies made from scratch, including the frosting, according to John Mitchell. He prefers the “crinkle cookie,” which is made with a brownie batter, but he said the banana cream pie and the cookie butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies will also be popular with customers, along with the dessert shop’s ice cream smoothies, which are sometimes referred to as Twisters.  

The gourmet cookie shop also offers a large variety of craft sodas and allows customers to create their own, as well as gourmet ice cream sandwiches. The shop will also have gluten-free sugar cookies.  

Twisted Sugar will be next to Fuzzy’s Taco Shop in a strip with several other food, beverage and dessert chains.

“We are aiming to grow the brand out here and hope everyone enjoys it as much as we do,” John Mitchell said. “We also feel it’s the best gourmet cookie we have ever had. We were adamant that we would only get behind a franchise if we felt it had the best product and branding, and we absolutely feel Twisted Sugar does.”

Twisted Sugar first opened in Utah and was founded by Mike and Tonia Jardine in 2016, according to an article in the Standard-Examiner of Ogden, Utah, which also mentions the brand is growing fast with 27 locations in eight states. The majority are located in Utah. The only other Twisted Sugar franchise open in Florida is in Clermont.

The couple hopes to open a second location in north Lakeland in 2023 and expand the brand across Polk County. They had to push back the opening date for this location due to delays in permitting and construction.

“It has been difficult at different times throughout the process. Securing funding and the required permitting have been the most challenging aspects of opening the business,” John Mitchell said, adding that Stacee Dene Sanchez of Wyoming will be a minority owner of the franchise.

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Stephanie Claytor has been a broadcast and digital journalist in Lakeland since 2016, covering Polk County for Bay News 9 and currently free-lancing for LkldNow. She is an author of travel and children's books.

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