Two years ago Shelley Fasulko and John Pippin introduced Clevelanders to Brewnuts and the response has been nothing short of remarkable. How could it not have been? These are local beer-flavored donuts we’re talking about after all.
“There was this perfect storm going on with the beer boom that was happening in Cleveland and all of these great artisan food businesses starting up,” Fasulko says of the concept’s genesis. “Our idea was to come up with a Cleveland version of something really unique to do with donuts.”
After simultaneously working their way through Bad Girl Ventures and Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen, Fasulko and Pippin began selling their delicious beer-themed confectionaries at the Cleveland Flea, Rising Star and Pour coffee, and other pop-up events around town. The goal was to continue fine-tuning the product, getting better at business, and open a brick and mortar shop in about five years.
Make that a little more than two.
Sometime in late winter, Brewnuts will open up a donut-themed bar in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. The very prominent corner space at the intersection of W. 65th and Detroit was most recently home to Councilman Matt Zone’s office. At 1,200 square feet, the space marks a major improvement over previous locations the couple have worked out of, including a tiny, temporary storefront in Tremont.
“In a lot of ways we got to take our bumps and bruises in that space; go through some trials and tribulations that hopefully will make the next transition a little bit smoother,” Fasulko says of the short-lived space they snagged through Tremont West Development Corp.’s storefront incubator program. “I saw that and thought this is the perfect intermediary step we were looking for. We thought it would be a really good way to stair-step our way into this.”
For the first time, Brewnuts will have an onsite kitchen, which will allow them to expand their product line to include more cake, yeast and fresh-baked donuts. Up front will be space for a bar/counter and seating for approximately 75 guests. Assuming an upcoming ballot initiative goes as planned, the space will have use of a full liquor license.
“It’s always been part of the plan to be so much more than that mom-and-pop corner bakery,” Fasulko 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 whole idea is to let people experience the beers that we use in the donuts.”
Though the beverages will lean more towards local brews, both on tap and in the bottle, weekends likely will add mimosas and Bloody Marys to the mix.
To go with the liquid refreshments will be an expanded lineup of food offerings that will include both sweet and savory options. So in addition to those Dogfish Head Punk'n Ale-spiked donuts with pumpkin and caramel glaze, or a dozen sour cream frycakes made with Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s Christmas Ale, the Brewnuts crew might whip up a batch of crispy donut-battered chicken wings tossed in a savory buffalo wing sauce.
For two people who just a couple of years ago were still holding down full time jobs, the fact that they have transformed a love of beer into a promising new food-based venture is pretty exciting. But even more appealing, they say, is the opportunity to meet and please even more customers.
“Of course we want to make Cleveland’s best donut – and the world’s best donut – but at the end of the day if we’re giving people an experience that is better than what they went in there thinking they would have, that’s what I’m excited about,” says Fasulko. “Donuts are what we’re serving, but the bigger goal for us is giving people a great experience and making them happy.”
To share updates with their fans, and to offer an opportunity for them to get involved, Fasulko and Pippin will be launching a Kickstarter campaign in November. We’ll add it to this page when it goes live.
Watch the Kickstarter video here.