A few years ago Joseph Pepe decided he needed a hobby. What did he like to do? He liked to eat doughnuts. So he decided to try making them.
“I just stumbled upon it,” Pepe said. “I had no clue that was even a business model, except that I like doughnuts. …
“It was literally just me having fun in my kitchen as a hobby.”
That hobby turned into Joe’s Doughs, which launched in October 2014 as a series of pop-up doughnut shops in different locations around Charlotte.
On June 18, Joe’s Doughs will celebrate the grand opening of its first permanent storefront, on North Davidson Street next to Abari.
The store, with a full, professional kitchen, will be cranking out about 1,000 doughnuts a day, according to general manager and head baker Jaclyn Parzygnot. Joe’s Doughs has come a long way from that first pop-up shop.
“I made 30 doughnuts that day,” Pepe, who launched the business with his wife, Jen, said about the first pop-up shop in 2014. “All my friends came by … and I sold out in a couple of hours. By January 2015, I was making 150 doughnuts and selling out in like an hour and a half.”
The store, located at 1721 North Davidson St Unit B Charlotte, will be open 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekends. Parzygnot said they might consider staying open late for the … uh … really hungry people spilling out of Abari next door, but that won’t be the case at first.
There will occasionally still be pop-up events, but not as often as in the past.
Pepe said the shop will offer about 15 everyday flavors, with weekly specials mixed in to switch things up. There will always be vegan and gluten free options.
A few of the everyday flavors you can expect:
– Cinnamon sugar
– Goat cheese strawberry balsamic
– Peanut butter and jelly
– Sea-salted chocolate caramel
– Maple bacon (the most popular flavor)
– Everything doughnut (think an everything bagel but with a cream cheese glaze. “People couldn’t get enough of those,” Pepe said.)
But don’t expect to see Pepe there every day. He recently moved out to Los Angeles to be with his band, SLEEPLUST (he plays keyboard and bass). That’s where he was when I called him earlier this week.
He’ll be making regular trips back to Charlotte (he still has family here) and plans to be at any big events the shop hosts — including the grand opening. He’ll also continue to help develop recipes and menus. But the day-to-day operation of the shop will be left to Parzygnot.
“I love making the doughnuts … but waking up at 3:30 in the morning is not my thing,” Pepe said. He added that he would have no idea what he was doing in a professional kitchen after always making the doughnuts in his home kitchen. “I’d burn the … place down.”
Pepe said he picked the location on North Davidson for several reasons. About 10,000 cars pass by each morning, it will be less than a half mile from the light rail extension and he just wanted to be in that neighborhood.
“I just felt like NoDa and Optimist Park … that’s where Joe’s Doughs started,” he said. “It started in The Evening Muse with the Daily Press and I wanted to find something in that neighborhood.”
Want to go to the grand opening?
When: Saturday, June 18, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: 1721 N. Davidson St. Unit B, Charlotte
What: Doughnuts, obviously. And a doughnut art competition. The best art wins a free half dozen doughnuts.
Photos: Corey Inscoe; Courtesy of Joseph Pepe