SugaRush: Interview audio and transcript

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SugaRush, June 6, 2013

Bruce Johansen: I’m Bruce Johansen and I’m at SugaRush which is located at 712 University Avenue in St. Paul. This interview is one in a series of interviews that I’m doing with business owners along University Avenue, also known as the Central Corridor and the Green Line. The project is funded through a State of Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grant. With me today is SugaRush co-owner Keoni Nguyen. [Audio at bottom]

To learn more, read SugaRush: “I just hope that corporate America don’t come in and take us all out,” by Bruce Johansen, listen to the audio below, and watch video here. This article is part of the series, Along the Corridor: University Avenue business owners navigating change, an oral history project funded through a State of Minnesota Historical & Cultural Heritage Grant.

Thank you for accepting my invitation to be interviewed.

Keoni Nguyen: It’s my honor. It is my honor.

B: I think this will be fun. We’ll begin at the very beginning because I don’t know a lot about your early background. So where were you born and where did you grow up?

K: I was born in Vietnam, a refugee here in Minnesota. Moved to Southern California when I was around 12 years old. Came back to Minnesota back in 2003.

B: What took you to Southern California? Escaping?

K: Yeah, escaping Minnesota. Nicer weather, you know.

B: I’m also curious to know what brought you back.

K: Ah man, let me see. The honest truth? A woman chased me back to Minnesota.

B: So a good thing.

K: No, a much better opportunity here in Minnesota. There’s not a whole lot of opportunities in California. It’s a bigger city. And then at the same time I was a single dad coming back to Minnesota. It’s easier to entertain the kids and everything.

B: And what city in Southern California?

K: Orange County, Orange County.

B: I’ve heard a thing or two about Orange County. I think I’d rather be here.

K: Laughs. Yeah.

B: What brought your family to Minnesota originally when you were a kid?

K: Well, like I said, we were refugees here. My mom and all the kids moved back to California and then after that my mom came back with my older brother. And my older sister, myself and my younger brother were the only ones left in southern California. And then after that slowly we all started migrating back here because my brother came here and opened a bar and then started a few other businesses here.

B: Where was the bar?

K: On University and Prior. Inside Days Inn Hotel. So we started with that and here I am starting on University.

B: Wow, that’s great. So pretty deep roots on University Avenue it sounds like.

K: Yeah. And actually I grew up, when we came here to the United States, we lived right down the street from here.

B: I was wondering about that. So where exactly?

K: Lafond and Kent. No, not Lafond and Kent. Lafond and Mackubin, right by St. Agnes School.

B: Did you go to St. Agnes School?

K: No, my sister and my brother went to St. Agnes.

B: But you?

K: I went to a public school, yeah.

B: And did you like school as a kid?

K: I did, I did. I was a troubled teen. I was a troubled teen. Back in the ‘80s, late and ‘90s, that’s how kids were.

B: I don’t think that’s specific to that time period.

K: No. But you know, a lot of things changed. Now we have kids, got wiser. Paid for our dues.

B: What kind of work did your parents do?

K: Let’s see, my dad was a, he came here, he go to college, and my mom was at home mom, took care of the kids. And if I’m not wrong, my dad did some assembly work, you know, and back in the day you could do work at home. And the kids, my brothers and sister, worked at McDonald’s. I did the paper route.

B: Yay, paper routes, that was my first job too.

K: Nowadays, you know, it’s not a kid job no more. Paper routes aren’t for kids no more.

B: Which in some ways is unfortunate, I think. You learn something about business and responsibility.

K: At a really young age. Work hard.

B: Your paper route was in the area?

K: Around here. I had two paper routes. One was over by my house. And one was down towards here a little bit more. What street was it? Van Buren, Minnehaha, Blair, Lafond, more towards Lexington. So then I have both of those routes.

B: That must have been a lot of customers. Was it a morning paper route?

K: Yeah it was a morning and also after school project. So back in the day, riding my bike. In the winter time you pulled a sled with the paper route on top on a Sunday. Those good old days are gone.

B: That brings back memories.

K: It does, it does.

B: So what was University Avenue like when you first knew it, when you were a kid? What was going on, on this street?

K: You know, it was different. It was more of a community, a very tight neighborhood kind of deal. And not anymore. Because now there’s more rental properties. More than homeowners. Before I used to know all the neighbors from my old neighborhood. I’m still friends with some of those people now because, uh, they all go to St. Agnes, my kids and their kids are going to the same school. So we still do talk.

B: You have those connections.

K: I think there’s only one or two families that are left on that strip and the rest just kind of moved out.

B: What do you think led to that happening? And where did people move on to? Was it to the suburbs?

K: I believe they all just kind of moved out to the suburbs and now I think this new generation is going to start moving out to the suburbs and they’re going to come back. I’m hoping that it will bring more of it back. Because I start seeing things are changing now that, you know, just behind us alone used to be a lot of rental properties. Now it’s homeowner-occupied, which is good. When you have a homeowner-occupied area you have more people taking care of their place. Hopefully that increases business here on University Avenue.

B: You’re one of the people who moved out of the neighborhood.

K: Yes I was. I was.

B: When was that?

K: We moved to Little Canada for two years now. Now we’re thinking about moving back. Moving back. Closer to home, closer to the kids’ school, closer to the business.

B: Was it because of some of the changes that you described that you thought, we’ll try a different place, we’ll move to Little Canada?

K: Yeah, that’s pretty much what it was. I thought that would be a better move than it turned out to be.

B: And why was that? Why was it not what you thought?

K: Because now the commute is a little farther. The kids’ school is here and the business is here. And I’m so far it’s away. It’s such an inconvenience. I don’t want to say that but it is an inconvenience.

B: How long is the commute from Little Canada?

K: From Little Canada to here, I would say 10, 15 minutes.

B: Some days longer?

K: Yeah, some days are longer. But you know, it just, you know, 10 and 15 minutes might not sound like a long distance, but when you get up, warm up your car, gear it up, by the time that you get here it take an hour out of your day just to get here.

B: And what time do you open up, or what time do you get here, I should say?

K: Well, we start baking at around midnight, so prepping everything, getting everything started, they get here at around midnight. We should finish everything at roughly around 5:30 to 6:00, because everything should be finished and lights turned on and show time.

B: You open the doors at what time?

K: 6:30 in the morning. Sometimes we have customers who call and want to get here earlier. They knock on the window. We come open the door. They come in, get what they need to get.

B: When do you sleep? Do you sleep?

K: Oh, I shut down at 2:30, go buy material and everything, go home, cook, eat, by the time we’re done, hopefully around 7 I fall asleep. Now I have my son working for me, which is good. I don’t have to come and bake donuts no more.

B: How old is your son?

K: Ah, he’s turning 20. He’s turning 20 this August, so.

B: That must be nice.

K: It is, and it’s not sometimes. Teenage years. We’ve all been there.

B: So you opened SugaRush when? What year?

K: Uh, we opened SugaRush in two thousand and ten, but before that it used to be Rainbow Donut and that was in 2005, I believe.

B: Tell me about Rainbow Donut.

K: Rainbow Donut was purchased by my younger brother and my older brother and that didn’t go so well because they based everything on retail and it’s a hard market to go into and it slowly, slowly take a plunge. And then after that I came into the picture and I revived it back up. I changed the name. Fresh start, you know, and we’ve been rising since.

B: Did you come with more of a business background or did you learn from their missteps or how is it that you’ve been successful?

K: You know, I came from a very business-oriented family. Back home, my mom and dad used to own businesses. My dad was a principal of a school. So my grandparents owned businesses. My grandfather on my mom’s side is a businessman from France and had business in Vietnam.

B: What kind of business?

K: I believe some kind of mechanic thing. So, they were, we were surrounded by business owners. And I guess my younger brother, when he had the shop, he was young, he was in his 20s. I jumped in when I was in my 30s.

B: So you came in with more wisdom, 15 years of additional wisdom.

K: Yeah, a little bit more wisdom and a lot of determination. I wasn’t going down without a fight.

B: And your wife is the co-owner?

K: Yes, my wife is the co-owner.

B: And her name is?

K: Her name is Susie Path.

B: And how did the two of you come up with the name for the business?

K: My younger sister, my younger sister. I asked my sister, “I’m trying to think of a name for our donut shop, I want to have a new fresh new start, a new beginning, think of a name for me.” And she came up with SugaRush. It came with a, it was supposed to be a good and a naughty theme, but it didn’t go so well, so we stuck with the name, but the good and naughty kind of faded away.

B: So the name changed and some of the business practices changed, what other kinds of changes did you make?

K: Before it was just donuts. I came in with coffee, espresso, smoothies. I tried the fresh fruit and all of that and that didn’t go so well. The consistency’s not there and this and that, so I went with, I did some research and found a really good mix, that can go pretty well and is pure fruit, no additives, no nothing, and it worked pretty well so far.

B: Great. And do you rent this space?

K: Yes, I lease this, this space. The lease is coming up in six months. We’ll see how all that’s going to turn out. Hopefully we go on strong.

B: I’m guessing that wifi is something that you added?

K: Yes, we added the wifi.

B: Did you make changes to the interior?

K: Yes, we remodeled the whole place, inside and back, new equipment. Bigger equipment, because now I have more of a demand than back when I first started, so lots of upgrading.

B: Because in addition to walk-in customers you also do wholesale.

K: I do a lot of wholesale to churches and coffeehouses and independent gas stations.

B: How many wholesale customers would you say you have?

K: I would say I have around, between gas stations and coffeehouse, between 15 and 20. That’s without the churches. And I have roughly around 10 churches, just around the neighborhood here, that support me through the tough time and all that.

B: And they (churches) end up purchasing how many donuts from you each week?

K: They usually, roughly around, 25 to 30 dozen per church.

B: That’s incredible, that’s a lot of donuts.

K: And sometimes we hit the jackpot, we get a hundred and twenty dozen from one church plus the other additional from all of the other churches. So it’s a busy fun night.

B: That’s got to be a busy night. I’m glad it’s fun, too.

K: It is. It’s something to keep the kids busy.

B: You have how many kids?

K: I have five kids altogether, one on the way, so that’s six. Six kids.

B: And do you employ outside of the family?

K: No, just within the family. We haven’t made that kind of money to expand that big yet. Hopefully one day this whole light rail thing gets kick-started, bring in some new faces, give me the opportunity to hire more people.

B: We’ll get to that….What’s the age span of your kids?

K: I have a 19, an 18, 16, 12, 7, and I also have a nephew who lives with me and he is 17.

B: So that’s a good workforce there.

K: It is, it is. And it’s good to have kids you know, they keep you busy, keep you on your toes.

B: How did you form the relationship with the churches? Because that’s a really nice foundation for your business.

K: Because my family has a pretty good tie with St. Agnes Church and St. Agnes School, so that was the start of it, the start of the whole churches thing. So I got St. Agnes and then word passed around and I…

B: Did you approach them or did they approach you?

K: Some I approached, some approached me. And along the way, some I lost. It’s a given.

B: Is that partly because of declining memberships of the churches?

K: It’s because when we first started it was kind of new when you started from something that is manageable to something that is so big. I was understaffed. I was… I was under every aspect of it. It was….

B: You weren’t prepared for it?

K: I wasn’t prepared for it, yeah, I wasn’t prepared for it, you know. I got myself in a hole. I had to reinvent myself and climb out.

B: And it sounds like you’ve done that.

K: Yeah, yeah, I did. It’s a stable business. It’s stabilized. Keep things going. Which is good.

B: I’m guessing that there’ve been some other challenges along the way because of the light rail construction?

K: Yes. It has been. The light rail was an impact and it still is an impact, because not a lot of people are used to the long stops, the long distance turnaround, the walking distance and all that. They’re not prepared for all that.

B: The customers who walk in, the walk-in customers, where are they coming from?

K: Some are from the neighborhood. Some saw our article online. Some saw it in the paper. The whole light rail thing does help, by advertisement, billboard, article in the paper, and the little here and there. It does increase some of the business, it does. It’s nice. A lot of locals try to come out as much as possible to try to support.

B: It seems like you’ve tried to make this a comfortable spot for people to come and hang out.

K: It’s a really comfortable spot for families, kids.

B: What other kinds of work you have done? You mentioned having done some construction.

K: Yeah, I’m one of those jack-of-all-trades. I try a little bit of everything. I did construction to a sewing shop to bartending to a chef. Now I’m into the baking.

B: Did you bartend at your brother’s bar?

K: Yes, yes I did. I bartend there for a good three and a half, four years. It was a fun experience.

B: Well you’re good with people.

K: Yeah, it does help, it does help.

B: And where was the sewing shop? Was that on University Avenue?

K: That was in Southern California. We used to have a sewing shop down there.

B: Did you enjoy running that shop?

K: It’s a lot of work. A lot of. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of work.

B: What made that shop so much work?

K: The deadlines. You have a deadline that you have to meet. The same thing with donuts. We have a deadline every day. It’s not like everybody else. We have a deadline that we have to be finished with everything by 5:30. Because if we’re not done by 5:30, we’re going to have a lot of unhappy gas stations and a lot of unhappy coffeehouses.

B: Do you deliver to all of those places?

K: Yes, I do. Some I deliver. Some come pick it up themselves.

B: So you’ve already put in a pretty full day.

K: Pretty much.

B: What would you say the biggest rewards of owning this business are?

K: Being around the kids, being around the kids. I know where they are at all times and at least know some of the activities they’re involved in. That’s my main thing, something for them to do. That’s my main focus. To me that’s worth more than anything, more than money, more than any of all this. At least they have something to fall back on, something for them to do.

B: And do you see them continuing to be a part of the business, or maybe some of them?

K: I’m hoping, I’m hoping, that it can be passed down. I’d hate to drive so hard and shut it down, call it a day. I’d hate to hand it to somebody else after all you’ve done, all you’ve accomplished. I would love one of them to take over one day and me coming out to help.

B: That must be hard when there isn’t the possibility of kids taking over a business, so that when those business owners get to a certain age they lock up the door and that’s it.

K: I’ve talked to a lot of people that own businesses and we work so hard. Especially my family, came as a refugee here, it was supposed to be my parents that established something and pass it down to my generation and for my generation to pass it down to the next. We didn’t get that. Because why? My parents came here and they were refugees so they didn’t. So here I am, the first generation here, so I have to build something, so I have to work super hard to build something so that they have something to pass down. It is hard. Don’t get me wrong, it is really hard.

B: Are your parents still alive?

K: Yes, my parents are still here, one here in Minnesota, the other in Southern California. They’re at that age where they need to retire. They work hard all through their life.

B: It must be more challenging for their generation, with the language barrier.

K: It is, it is. The language barrier and now things change with this new generation. My wife’s Vietnamese and I’m Cambodian, so we have a different mix, two cultures colliding into one and we try to….

B: Did your wife come here as a child, too?

K: Yes, she came here, from my understanding she came as a refugee, too. So we’re rocking on the same boat.

B: Was she around the same age?

K: She is 6 years younger than I am, five or six years younger than I am. She came here when she was one, so she was a baby.

B: So do either of you have a deep connection with your home countries?

K: No we haven’t. I came here at a young age, never been back, so.

B: With your parents’ generation, her parents’ generation, did they maintain much of a connection to Vietnam?

K: My dad flew back there a few times, my mom came back there a few times but, you know, but that’s about it, you know. Me, myself, I’m so used to here because this is home, because I was raised here, everything, education, I got it all here. I don’t remember much of home, but hopefully one day I’ll get to go home.

K: I must give our parents hands-down, I must admit, they have. They are a lot stronger than we are now. Because for them to leave their homeland to walk into the unknown. Barely speak the language, some barely speak the language, some couldn’t even speak the language. Don’t even know how America look like. But they were willing to walk into that unknown. And unfortunately some of us now can speak the language, but so comfortable here that we’re so scared of going back home, even that we can speak the language, fluently, but yet we have that fear because we’d get outside our comfort zone. This is our comfort zone. To give all this up. To walk into the unknown like they did. We don’t have it, we don’t have it. Quite honestly to say, we’re weak, we are weak compared to them. They were strong to come over here, to face what they did. I must admit that they…..

K: They sacrifice a lot. I must admit they sacrificed a lot to come here. And here we are.

K: Prejudice is everywhere. I don’t believe that it’s just here in America. Everybody’s prejudiced to some extent, some to more extreme than others. And I strongly believe that. If somebody says they’re not prejudiced, they’re lying to themself because that’s part of being human and that’s the honest truth. When you bore down to it, there is some part of us that is prejudiced to certain things. Some are tolerant than others. Some we have more tolerance for, and some we have zero tolerance for. But that doesn’t make us a bad person. It just makes us human.

B: You’re thinking about moving back here (to the neighborhood). I can understand the conveniences, your shop’s here, your kids go to school here. Are there other things that are drawing you back?

K: I like St. Paul. I like St. Paul.

B: What do you like about it?

K: I’m a big city kid. I originate from Southern California. So I like the busy street, I like the noise, all that. Out in the suburbs I don’t get that. I don’t have it. It’s hard for me to function, because I like to do things, I can’t sit around. So that’s the main thing, the kids’ school, the business here, and on top of that, you know. The energy.

B: And there’s probably a lot more to do here?

K: Yes, it is, it is. A lot more to do than out in the suburbs. I’m not saying the suburb is bad, it’s just not for me. I like to be close to food. Just like my son. Recently he want to move back to California. And I told him, there is a saying in Vietnamese that you go down to California, you leave your heart there. You leave your heart and soul there and you came back and the whole time you’re still thinking about there. And why? Because it’s so beautiful and it’s so nice. But can you afford it? You know what? St. Paul is nice enough for me.

B: We’ve talked a little about the possible impact of the light rail, which will be going right past your door. Where are the closest stops?

K: The closest stop, I would say, Dale and University.

B: So just two blocks away.

K: Two blocks away. And then we also have one on University and Victoria, which is like four blocks away.

B: What do you think that will do for businesses along here, your businesses, other businesses? Look into the future.

K: Look into the future.

B: Tell me what you see.

K: I see that things will change, not rapidly, but slowly. It will get there but I think it will take roughly around five to seven years for it to get to where it’s supposed to be or somewhat, because just like everything else, things don’t change over night. It will take time and we, I hope everybody know about it and anticipate it and stick around.

B: Do you have a picture of what University Avenue will be like in 5 to 7 years?

K: Oh, man, the big picture of University will totally, completely change. A lot of this would not exist anymore.

B: What do you see going away?

K: I just hope that what I see don’t come true. Because if what I see is what is going to be then eventually all small businesses will slowly disappear, because it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be tough, unless we get some kind of help somehow other than that. It’s going to be hard for small businesses to survive here on University, because of the demand for it. The light rail is coming through. Of course, just think about how we buy houses. We want to buy into a nice neighborhood and of course we want everybody to have nice home in those neighborhoods. We don’t want somebody who doesn’t care about the home and that just depreciate the neighborhood. Same thing with University. There are a lot of run down buildings that some of these businesses are in. Eventually they need to upgrade it or they’re going to get knocked down and be bought out. And that’s part of the whole thing. And that’s a given. I just hope that corporate America don’t come in and take us all out, because I would love to stay on University, stay here, and have some fun. I love University.

B: Are you and other small businesses getting some kind of assistance, some help from different sources?

K: We do, we do, we do get help from other resources, but that just a temporary fix. It is not a permanent fix because some of us are in the type of building that eventually will be bought out. It would have to be upgraded and that a given. That’s how things work, so, to help to maintain some of the small businesses, to last on University Avenue, is private investor or a developer willing to roll the dice and have them move into their new building at a low rate, where it is manageable and it’s doable then maybe you’ll see some of these businesses still last. But if you can’t relocate them into a new facility or something that’s updated then there’s no way they’re going to stick around. The cost of relocating is pretty spendy, it’s not cheap.

B: I would think that a lot of the appeal of University Avenue for people using the light rail and who might want to live close to the light rail would be the independent businesses, the restaurants, SugaRush?

K: Part of it is and part of it isn’t because it been tough for St. Paul, especially Frogtown. Like I said I came here to America 30-something years ago. It take 37 years for things to change to the way it is today. It’s not going to be overnight for them to change to the next step. It going to take some time. It going to take some time.

B: Do you belong to any type of business association?

K: No, I don’t. I don’t.

B: Is there a business association in Frogtown?

K: I’m not aware of it. For somebody to approach you they have to have some kind of interest. Other than that.

B: I’m guessing you’d know if one existed. Somebody would have told you, like Isabel at NDC.

K: I really don’t know because not a whole lot have approached me. The only one that I know is NDC because NDC help me through this whole light rail construction thing with the business aspect of thing. If it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t have even noticed.

B: What kinds of services have they provided?

K: Some technical support, some managing my business, from bookkeeping, to keeping my place clean, this and that. They give me good feedback. What I do wrong, and what I need to upkeep. What I need to do to maintain a business. It’s good, it’s good. It keep me on my toes. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like I’m listening but I am. It’s just that I’m just so busy I couldn’t do everything at once. And I know that they get frustrated with me and I get frustrated with everybody. It’s just certain things are more important than others, they need to be done right away and certain thing you get to it when you get to it. And gradually I’ll get there. The bottom line is I get there.

B: You’re not a part of a business association, but you know your neighboring business owners. We talked about one the other day, Saigon, and then you’re in the same building with Cycles for Change.

K: Yeah, Cycles for Change. And China One.

B: And the Filipino restaurant.

K: The Filipino restaurant, coming in soon.

B: What kinds of things do you hear other people saying? Do they have similar concerns?

K: I hear a lot more on parking issue than anything. Trouble here, there and everywhere. It’s given, but the parking issue is, that’s the big one, and that is something that’s beyond our control. I don’t think that we can. The building is already here, the business is already here. The parking lot is that size no matter. If anything going to change it’s not going to change that. Unless we start knocking down some of these buildings and turn into a parking lot. Other than that, it ain’t happening.

B: I don’t think you want to do that.

K: No. No. If there’s a chance that this building is going to be knocked down, I don’t want that.

B: Anything that we haven’t covered? I think we’ve gotten through my questions. Anything you’d like to add? I’d like to end on more of a positive note. It sounds like you have a lot of concerns but do you also have some hopes for the future?

K: Yeah, I do, I do. Oh and on top of that, I do donate my donuts, my day old donuts, to Dorothy Day. I try hard, the best I can.

B: What about getting into more coffee shops?

K: It’s really hard with the coffee shop industry. It’s really hard. If I was in a different location where I had a really strong neighborhood thing, then yeah. Quite frankly, University Avenue is not a coffee shop type of place. I used to try the sidewalk café. It attract a whole different kind of beast and I didn’t want it. It was right here. I used to have a sidewalk café, tables outside and everything. It was right here, but the rules and regulations for it, which is too much of a hassle. I can’t leave a table outside, I can’t leave a chair outside, so at night I have to pull it all in, and in the morning I have to bring it back out. And on top of that, people loitering around, because University Avenue is not that kind of place yet.

B: Do you think it might become that?

K: I hope so, I hope one day it will become something like that, but not any time soon, I don’t think so. If I were to do it I’d be the only sidewalk café within a one-mile radius here on University. I don’t see anybody else have a sidewalk café. I don’t see anybody else have sidewalk seating so all of a sudden I’m the only one. It doesn’t work that way, you have to, everybody has to be in sync with each other. If I do that, they do it and everybody does it. It automatically becomes a trend, but if I’m the only one it’s kind of hard to be a trendsetter. It would be nice to be a trendsetter, but it is hard, it is hard. If I have three businesses just in this building alone get a sidewalk thing with me then I will have more people. But if I’m the only one then it’s kind of hard.

B: What about the plans that have been going forward to make this more of a cultural corridor? The Little Mekong and some of those ideas?

K: I’m not too involved with that, so I’m not too sure about the Little Mekong thing. So I couldn’t give any positive or negative ideas about that.

B: Within the context of what we were talking about earlier, the possibility of independent businesses being displaced because of the light rail, if that would help provide some kind of security if a portion of the street had that kind of identity as Little Mekong?

K: I don’t know that much about it, so I can’t, maybe because I don’t have an active role in it, so I don’t know. At the same time it’s mainly because of the business that I own, because I believe that Mekong, whole thing, is more of an Oriental, ethnic kind of thing, and because mine is a donut and coffeehouse, it doesn’t fit toward that kind of a theme. And I believe that’s part of the reason that I haven’t been. If I were to have a Vietnamese restaurant or something involved in the Oriental thing, I assume I’d be more active towards it, but since mine’s a coffee and donut shop it brings a whole different thing to it. So I don’t know, it’s different.

B: How did you come to be such a good donut maker?

K: A lot of hard work, a lot of time, sleepless nights.

B: Did you get some kind of training?

K: Yeah, I learned from one of the top guys here in the Upper Midwest, who teach me how to make the donut, bake bread, the whole nine yards.

B: Who is that?

K: It’s Scott, Scott something. Yeah, it was Scott something.

B: How did you connect with him?

K: I connect with him by my vendor. So Scott came down and rubbed me down with some of his expertise, and adjust my equipment and everything. It’s really tricky. It take a lot of work, a lot of learning. A lot of mistakes.

B: How long was the training?

K: I would say it take me around three years, four years to master, to perfect everything.

B: Not working with him that whole time?

K: No, no, no. Training from him and prior knowledge helped.

B: Do you try out new things from time to time?

K: I do, I do try out new things here and there, but unfortunately I’m on University and you would thought that some would hit and some would miss. So far everything I try has missed.

B: Like what kinds of things?

K: I try sandwiches, I tried croissant, I tried a lot of different things, but it’s not that kind of area yet. If you want your old fashioned donut, like you had it when you were a kid, this would be the place.

B: Have you branched out and tried different kinds of donuts?

K: I hear a lot of people try new things and this and that and you know inventing new stuff on donuts and this and that, and you know, there’s a few of those out there, but there’s not a lot of donut shops that sell original donuts, and I kind of like it the way it is. If you want some traditional stuff, you can get it here. If you want some froufrou stuff, I’m pretty sure there’s some froufrou stuff at other places and that’s what they’re known for. It’s just, you know.

K: I don’t believe donuts are bad for you. It’s other stuff over the course of the day that we consume that’s bad for us. I don’t think a donut a day will change us over the course of our lives. Donuts exist decades and decades ago and I don’t remember that that was the problem then and I don’t think it’s a problem now. I think it’s other things we consume over the course of the day. People are entitled to it.

B: Well thanks, this has been really fun. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you better this week and learning more about your business. I’d like to take some photos of you and the donuts and anything you recommend.

K: Sounds good. I’ve enjoyed this.


This article is part of a Central Corridor small business oral history project funded through a State of Minnesota Historical & Cultural Heritage Grant.

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