Reporter's Notebook

Donuts are the new cupcakes

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When I was visiting her a few weeks ago, my friend Jackie asked: Why aren’t donuts more popular than cupcakes?

Jackie is passionate about her sweets, and she’s been known to down a cupcake or three. But why aren’t donuts just as fad worthy? she asked. Magnolia is passé, she said, but Krispy Kreme is here to stay. Donuts are suitable for breakfast, their texture is light, and the flavor profiles are seemingly endless.

Enter: The cronut. And National Donut Day. And Dunkin’ Donut’s glazed donut breakfast sandwich, rolling out nationwide.

Her reaction: Well it’s about time donuts—in whatever form—started getting more of the limelight.

Kamal Grant, chef and founder of Atlanta-based Sublime Doughnuts, couldn’t agree more. He’s signed with World Franchise Associates to expand internationally and domestically in locations as varied as New York, Georgia, Lebanon and Turkey.

It’s this hot environment for donuts that is, in part inspiring Grant to begin expanding Sublime Doughnuts beyond its Midtown, Atlanta hub and outward internationally. His company, founded in 2008 how has two locations—one in Atlanta and one in Thailand.

“We’ll expand domestically, too,” he said of his company’s expansion approach. “But the opportunity for international is there.”

Donuts don’t ship well, he said, so it’s important to take the storefronts to where the customers are.

“Donuts are kind of a world thing, and donuts are seen as Americana,” Grant added. “Places where America is well-liked, you can always sell donuts there. They’re like blue jeans and rock ‘n’ roll. People love them.”

Sublime Donuts started with the goal of elevating the donut. Instead of a standard jelly donut, Grant made a donut with fresh cream and strawberries. His top flavors are salt and vinegar, peanut butter cream, and oreo, among others.

He also sells “burgers”— ice cream sandwichs made with donuts as the buns. And he said, he’s been selling frosted croissants since the beginning.

“When cupcakes blew up, people said donuts are going to be the next cupcake,” he said. “I said donuts were the first cupcake.”

Something tells me Grant and Jackie would get along.

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Reporter's Notebook is NRN's newsroom blog, where our editors give their points of view on news happening in the restaurant business.

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