This is Part 2 of a 2 Party Symrise Interview Series
Symrise interviewed Evan Feldman, owner and innovator of Doughnuttery to find out more about this delicious doughnut concept which has taken hold with New Yorkers and tourists alike.
Emmanuel Laroche, Vice President, Marketing & Consumer Insights, Symrise North America, Global Marketing Leader, along with his marketing team, got answers from Evan Feldman who launched Doughnuttery in October 2012.
Emmanuel Laroche: How do you see your business evolving three to five years from now?
Evan Feldman: When we started 3 years ago, I honestly thought we might have more locations but in three years, we have refined and managed our brand which is very important. So, I see growth in the next three years, within New York and outside of New York, going to other cities. That’s what we are working on now, and we hope Doughnuttery will continue to spread out, to be recognized as a ‘quick serve’ operation of higher quality than most. We’re offering a fresh made, unique, gourmet product which we hope to bring to other markets.
EL: Have you seen sweet concepts somewhat related to yours in food trucks or carts that you believe to be worthwhile?
Evan: We do participate in outdoor markets and I have seen a Thai ice cream concept using fresh ingredients that was very good and also, Gumbo Brothers who bring Gumbo to New York and are doing very well with it – I like it a lot. There are really some great new concepts to be found in urban space.
EL: How do you see the food truck, food stand and cart trend evolving?
Evan: I have seen them grow and become more competitive and I’ve seen brick and mortar restaurants going to outdoor markets. They recognize the growth and appeal and want to get in on it. It’s a great way to try out a concept. You can open a truck for a month and refine the concept without first taking a chance on a big and costly restaurant. You can go to neighborhoods where you haven’t been before to test your acceptance. Outdoor markets also means great advertising for your brick and mortar store so many owners are turning to the street. A lot of food halls, which have a higher quality image, are taking over the food court concept, moving away from a fast food concept and elevating the dining options in a mall. People wanting to set up a business lunch can now meet in a food hall, knowing that everyone can get what he or she wants but still be at the same table – the variety is incomparable. Food halls are opening up in New York City and around the country, serving as an affordable option to a brick and mortar location, albeit a smaller venue but with a lower initial investment. You can open up a 200 foot kiosk and serve your five best dishes on a permanent basis. Both restaurant owners and vendors are taking to this model.
EL: In your opinion, what impact are the food trucks, carts and stands having on the food and beverage industry?
Evan: I have been approached by big corporations wanting to use our doughnuts for give-aways or sponsorships. A beverage company just asked that I turn their new coffee liqueur into a chocolate sauce. Their thinking is that nothing goes better with doughnuts than coffee so they are building a marketing campaign around this concept to demonstrate that they can do versatile things with their product. Big companies have contacted me with local programs. They want to launch their product in the New York market before going national. Some companies want our doughnuts in small packets that they can send to their clients or use them along with their press releases, trying to win the hearts and minds of the Public Relations community. They realize that it is food – specifically our doughnuts – that can get them the attention that they are looking for. I was excited about the coffee proposition because we don’t sell coffee at Chelsea Market although we do at our other location and on the outside. It is an interesting way to get coffee on our menu. We do have one doughnut sugar that has coffee but maybe we can use their chocolate sauce as a way of serving coffee without actually selling coffee as a beverage. I love these creative side projects. It’s not necessarily about the money you can earn from them; it’s also about the love of food and the opportunity for experimentation.
EL: What would be your reaction to a larger competitor – like Dunkin Donuts for example – making a doughnut like yours?
Evan: Our doughnuts are not something you can patent, and a copywrite might only apply to their names –which I take great pride in. So if someone would want to replicate them or come close to putting lavender sugar on their menu, there’s probably nothing I can do about it. I guess I would try to look at the bright side and say that imitation is the best form of flattery. Look, I am not necessarily competing with Dunkin’ Donuts. The competitor has to live with it, not me. I am not hung up on that – there are too many productive things for me to focus on. It’s the kind of situation that Dominique Ansel's Cronuts experienced – even though the name was owned. Many others are trying to duplicate the combination of a doughnut with a croissant. Some have asked me why I am not compelled to do that. I want to come up with my own ideas, creating my own value without imitating someone else. If it was being demanded of me by my customers, I might have to go there but that’s not happened.
EL: We thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated hearing your thoughts and we’ve enlightened by your observations and you telling us about your experience. Thanks so much for your time!
Stay tuned to in-sight.symrise.com for more interview with street food innovators!