Ask any would-be operator what his or her least favorite question is and you’re bound to be hit with: “So, when are you opening?”
Poor Shelley and John Pippin have had to field that question for more than two years, ever since they got the keys to the prime corner space in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood that would become Brewnuts
. Well, beer-flavored donut fans, the wait is finally, truthfully over as of tomorrow morning. And not a minute too soon.
“It’s peak donut season,” says John.
One cannot say that the Pippins didn’t do their due diligence. The couple simultaneously worked their way through programs at Bad Girl Ventures and Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen. They operated a pop-up shop for about a year in Tremont, where, notes Shelley, “we got to take our bumps and bruises; go through some trials and tribulations that hopefully will make the next transition a little bit smoother.”
Along the way, they went “all in,” quitting their day jobs, invested the nest egg, and committing fully to the concept of a neighborhood donut bar, even if it took a year and a half longer than they had anticipated.
The sun-soaked 1,200-square-foot corner space at the bustling intersection of W. 65th and Detroit can accommodate approximately 50 guests. Tuesday through Friday mornings the shop will open at 6:30 a.m. (Saturdays and Sundays at 8 a.m.) for coffee and donuts like the popular maple bacon bourbon ale, coffee porter with toffee, and the classic glazed made with Great Lakes Dortmunder.
During a few recent test runs, when friends, family and Kickstarter supporters were invited inside, the Pippins flew through 700 donuts in a handful of hours. They hope to have inventory until they take their midday break at noon, but as with barbecue, when it’s out, it’s out.
“There isn’t a machine back there,” Shelley explains. “Every single donut is hand-rolled, hand-cut, cooked and glazed by a real person.” Also, the doughs need to rise slowly overnight.
Brewnuts will open again at happy hour, with savory snacks like donut-breaded chicken wings and, perhaps, specials like maple bacon donuts stuffed with Proper Pig pulled pork. There are nine beers on tap, mostly originating in Ohio. On weekends, those beers will be joined by Bloody Marys and mimosas.
“It’s always been part of the plan to be so much more than that mom-and-pop corner bakery,” Shelley explains. “We want this to be more of a communal space, a hang-out spot with great music, the opportunity to play some games, and the opportunity to treat it more as a bar.”
The Pippins, too, are eager to join a neighborhood that seems the ideal for their unique donut bar concept.
“What I like about this neighborhood is it’s very residential and there are niche food concepts here that have done really well, which makes it a fun place to kind of bop from place to place,” adds Shelley, citing spots such as Banter, Happy Dog and Sweet Moses.
So, after four years of planning, experimenting, testing and investing, the time finally has come for the doors officially to open to the general public. After so much blood, sweat and, yes, tears, the Pippins must be thrilled.
“We’re excited, for sure, to be able to finally bring to fruition something that you’ve worked so long for, but there’s still that anxiety that comes with it,” Shelley admits. “I think it will take a couple of weeks of operation to feel like we have our act together and then I’ll feel really excited.
“I’m also really tired.”