Back when the idea was first germinating, Houston wasn't up on the whole gourmet doughnut thing. We had the old standbys like B&B Donuts, Shipley and Christie's, and some forays into the wilder side of fried dough with River Oaks Donuts and Pena's Donut Heaven (home of our local version of the cronut, the dossant). Flash forward a year, and Houston has seen the Doughmaker Doughnut food truck open, and Glazed will be debuting sometime in the near future.
In spite of some setbacks (permitting from the city is apparently rough), Jason Hill and Matt Opaleski, owners of popular food truck H-Town StrEATs, are now ready to launch their very own gourmet doughnut and kolache shop next to Fat Cat Creamery in the Heights.
And they want your help.
"We have enough money to start the Kickstarter and start the business," Hill says, "but we need a little money to finish.
The Kickstarter campaign for Hugs & Donuts (yes, they know the name is silly), a gourmet doughnut shop, goes live today, so now's your chance to snatch some of the great rewards offered as incentives before they run out. It may sound silly--donate before the cool rewards are gone--but some of the items up for grabs in exchange for a monetary pledge are pretty cool.
When Hugs & Donuts opens later this summer, Hill and Opaleski will be giving away one free doughnut per day for life to anyone with the super exclusive "black card," like an Amex card, only for fried rings of dough. There will be early bird specials on the cards, but the prices will go up, so that's an incentive to donate early.
Other rewards include your name on a chair at Hugs & Donuts ($350 or more), invites to the special friends and family opening party ($100 or more), T-shirts, mugs, doughnuts (of course) and free hugs from Opaleski, which is weird if you know the guy, because he's pretty shy.
The goal, according to Hill, is to have the doughnut shop open around the same time the Kickstarter campaign ends to offer supporters instant gratification where the rewards are concerned.
"We want to have the business open right as the Kickstarter ends," Hill says. "I had a friend tell me he contributed to a Kickstarter and the reward was a wallet, but a year later, the company still hadn't done anything, and it's like, do you still want that wallet?"
People might be willing to wait a while for a wallet, but we won't have to wait that much longer for Hugs & Donuts, which Hill and Opaleski estimate will be ready to open in six-to-eight weeks. When asked if all the recipes are in order, the two chefs get a little cagey, though.
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"We have ideas and we have things written down," Hill says. "We've been messing with the concept for about a year now. But we want to keep it sort of like H-Town StrEATs, like a high wire act."
They can reveal that there will be doughnuts in flavors like red velvet, lemon meringue and pretzel crunch, as well as boudin kolaches and kolaches filled with barbecue from Gatlin's. The duo is also experimenting with something new--milk on tap. They're in the process of setting up beer-style taps to serve ice cold chocolate, strawberry and whole milk, as well as iced coffee. Katz Coffee is roasting and providing all the beans for the shop, which Opaleski hopes will have more of a community coffee shop vibe than a doughnut shop.
"It's a community thing," he says of the concept and the reasoning behind taking to Kickstarter to finish raising funds. "When we started the truck, we didn't know if we were going to meet people, and now we have regulars who come, and we really know them. So we want people to feel involved in the business. We want them to feel like it's their home, too."
To contribute to the bakery, check out the Kickstarter page. And while there's still time, be sure to check out what new and crazy thing H-Town StrEATs is cooking up this week by following the truck on Twitter.