Portland is a talented, delicious, supportive, and one-of-a-kind town. Tom Landry, the founder of Benchmark Real Estate and CornerStone Building and Restoration, once said, “Portland…this is where the American Dream is still alive,” and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve always appreciated how Portland supports small businesses, and it’s been a seriously sweet place (pun intended) to launch and grow my donut business.
In 2012, I was living on Munjoy Hill, working at Otto Pizza, and life was weird. I was at a crossroads: my marriage had ended and I needed to get a life (and a job, and a focus, and a purpose). Mike at Otto told me to open a donut shop. He knew I was in transition and he knew I was obsessed with donuts (I was desperate for sweetness and comfort, but who isn’t?). I told him it was a great idea and I started on my donut journey the next day.
I found a potato donut recipe I was excited about and started making donuts in my Munjoy Hill apartment every day like it was a mission from God. I took a plate to Coffee by Design on Washington Ave and Marni, the manager, offered to sell them the next day. I was ecstatic! CBD’s owner, Mary Allen Lindemann, then offered to sell them at all of her shops. I was over the moon. I proceeded to Hilltop Coffee and Stella said yes, she’d sell them, too. Then Bard Coffee and Mornings in Paris (which closed up shop in Portland in 2013) agreed to sell my sweets. I went to Whole Foods and Shannon Tallman, everyone’s favorite cheese guru (and, at that time, the local product buyer) said, “Sure, we’ll sell your donuts.” I left screaming with donut joy. I couldn’t believe people would so easily sell my product. Coffee by Design and Whole Foods!? I was a single mother with plates of donuts and no experience with wholesale—all I had was a sweet passion and a desire to spread love with my cinnamon-covered creations.
I needed donut boxes, and I had zero experience in supply acquisition, so I went to Katie Made Bakery and asked Jenny and Katie if they would sell me some boxes. They said, “Sure, we’ll help you in any way we can,” (side note: They are angels! Go get their scones—they’re truly the best!). Next, I went to Scratch Baking Co. to gain some business wisdom from Bob Johnson. I stopped by Standard Bakery, where I shadowed Alison Pray (the croissant and baguette queen) for a day. I talked extensively to my friends Mike and Anthony at Otto. Everyone was willing to give their time, thoughts, and support. I needed a commercial kitchen, and the guys at East Ender said I could use their space at 5 a.m. Everyone in town helped!
My dad and I patched together the old Terroni’s Market on Park Ave to become our first shop. I needed barstools, so I called Jay Loring at Nosh, he said, “I have extra, come grab ‘em.” We staffed the first shop, and Stephanie, the original founder of the legendary breakfast spot Silly’s, came on board to help us get our processes and systems going. So many food bloggers gave us a leg up, and Meredith Goad at the Portland Press Herald wrote about us just 16 days into business in March of 2012. The line formed down the street from that day on. I was terrified, and I fried my heart out, but it was impossible to keep up that day—or for days, weeks, and months beyond that! Eventually we learned how to meet the city’s demand for sweetness, and thank goodness we did, because I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no demand for sweetness.
Portland runs on kindness, or so I’d like to think. So, this November, I’m grateful for kindness and for my wonderful, supportive city. We should all be grateful for Portland: grateful for its beautiful, creative, resourceful, and kind people; grateful for local businesses (which make things so much more interesting than chains!); and thankful for the best food, the best views, the best cocktails, and the best connections. Thank you, Portland. Stay sweet.
This November, I’m grateful for my wonderful city: for its beautiful people, supportive local businesses, and the best food, views, cocktails, and connections anyone could ask for.