When co-owner and partner of Hugs & Donuts, Matt Opaleski, was asked about the menu at Hugs & Donuts he quickly laughed and stopped the question to say “we’re just getting started. We’re really just getting started.”
Just getting started is exactly what owners Jason Hill and Matt Opaleski are up to at their newly opened donut shop in the Heights at 1901 N. Shepherd Dr. You might recognize the two names from their food truck partnership in H-town StrEATs and their recent seasonal fried chicken project, The Birdhouse, where they won the 2015 Indie Maker Award from Pop Shop America.
The two have closed the chicken coop, at least for now, and are focused on gourmet donuts and acclimating to their new home on Shepherd. If
you asked Opaleski what the plan was, he’d tell you donuts was never the main plan.
“This is just a progression from where we were with the truck,” Opaleski said. “The truck got us here. A donut shop was never the plan, but moving in and breaking water was the main plan. This seemed like the best place for a donut shop.”
When Hill and Opaleski started the food truck, they tried pastries, but the pastries weren’t well received. Opaleski’s background is as a pastry chef and he said when the pastries didn’t do well, he stepped aside and learned the trade of the truck.
“Now it’s my chance again,” Opaleski said.
Now that you can find Opaleski in one spot every day, the team has had quite a success story so far. The donut shop sells out before closing on most days and Opaleski said they are temporarily intentionally doing this so they can get their numbers and production system right.
“I get here about a quarter to three and I just start knocking out donuts,” Opaleski said. “As far as how many, we kind of intentionally try to run out. Just so we aren’t throwing out a whole bunch of donuts at the end of the night. I would say we’re doing about 800 donuts a day right now, which is almost maxed out with the space we have.”
Looking into the doughnut case, you’ll see something new and something different. Opaleski said they can’t compete with Shipley’s Donuts, so they aren’t. The donut shop’s best sellers have been the Lemon Meringue, Strawberry Short Cake and Opaleski’s favorite, the Boston Cream.
The donut shop isn’t pulling a marketing ploy to get you there early for the coveted kolaches or to pull you out of bed sooner rather than later; rather the shop is still getting their feet wet and learning their process. Opaleski thinks everyone should come in because they deserve a hug and a donut.