French macaroons may be killing on the dinner-party circuit, but at the sleepy end of Valencia, Anthony Lucas is baking squashed-looking drop cookies for stoners and church ladies. His shop has been open a little more than a month. Yesterday, as a line snaked through the space (a former acupuncture joint) Lucas was struggling to keep up with demand for the Whole Wheat Oatmeal Raisin. “How soon before they're ready?” a woman in Sunday slacks and a silky, polka-dot blouse asked. “Just as fast as they come out of the oven, ma'am,” Lucas said.
Lucas, 31, is an unlikely baker. In 1997, he was a starving accounting student at SF State. “My friend jokingly told me to make some cookies,” Lucas told SFoodie. “I went ahead and ran without looking back.” Before long, Lucas was involved in serious cookie production out of his apartment, loading up the trunk of his car to make deliveries. Sam Zanze, the cheesecake maker, was an early mentor. Deliciously chewy, caramel-sweet Toffee Chip are one of Lucas' best sellers. Ditto the oatmeal-raisin, made with oats sourced from Giusto's.
The Valencia shop is Lucas' first. Like everything about Lucas, it seems to succeed through skin-of-the-teeth perseverance. Take the décor, rows of Straus Creamery milk bottles lining narrow alcoves along the back wall. Two days before the shop's grand opening, when the tchotchkes ordered for the shelves hadn't turned up, Lucas' architect had an inspiration: Milk bottles, filled with white paint. Lucas himself thinks his success is less serendipity and more design. “One of my customers said, 'Maybe you're good at baking because you're a mathematician,'” Lucas said. On Sunday, he seemed to be calculating just how long that batch of oatmeal-raisin cookies would take.
Anthony's Cookies 1417 Valencia (near 25th St.), 655-9834