Even as partners Courtney Bonning and Kelly Brewer were gearing up to open their Bigmouth Donut Co.
shop in the Hingetown area of Ohio City (1418 W. 29th St.), they knew it wasn’t going to be the perfect fit. Not only would the wee 650-square-foot space require a new kitchen, it would never support the kind of business and expansion the partners envisioned. Still, they soldiered on.
“Our equipment supplier said the buildout would be like fitting a marshmallow into a piggybank,” Bonning joked.
The plan was to make do with the Ohio City location by squeezing both a kitchen and retail storefront into the same small footprint. When the opportunity to move into a larger production facility arose, they would jump on it. Fortunately for them, that opportunity happened to present itself before the heavy construction began, Bonning explains.
“We could have built a production kitchen [in Ohio City], but in the end we would have been stumbling all over ourselves and would have regretted that we couldn’t do everything we wanted from a production standpoint,” she says. “Part of our business plan was always to scale up and have multiple locations around the greater Cleveland area, so it was always part of the plan to put in a larger kitchen somewhere. We just ended up scaling up way sooner than we had anticipated.”
That space will be at Hub 55, the mixed-use facility at St. Clair and E. 55th that includes Goldhorn Brewery, Café 55, and Sterle’s Slovenian House. Bigmouth will move into the space formerly occupied by Café 55, which quietly closed its doors three weeks ago. Bonning and Brewer are leasing the space from Hub 55 owner Rick Semersky. In addition to serving as a large centralized production kitchen, the space will function as a retail donut shop while providing hot savory food for Goldhorn customers.
The goal is to have all three components – the production kitchen and both retail outlets – up and running within four months.
“Having more production space is a great benefit, but one of the goals always was to create a destination donut shop – a place that people would put on their ‘must-see’ list when experiencing Ohio City with family and friends,” Brewer says. “Having more space in Hingetown for our storefront allows us to do that.”
Customers at either location can look forward to a dozen different flavors per day, a roster that will shift with the seasons. Cake and yeast varieties like pistachio or almond and honeycomb might be considered subtle compared to many of the wilder creations that are in vogue right now, notes Bonning.
“We’re not trying to be super-hipster,” she explains. “We want it to feel comfortable for everyone, so we’re just giving people very down-home products that they would associate with donuts. It’s not about a million sprinkles and all the crazy colors and sugar products. We just want you to appreciate them like any other pastry product you would get.”
Bonning says that come spring, the partners will strongly consider operating the Hingetown spot as a 24-hour concern.
“It makes sense because that area is activated almost all the time, from 5 in the morning with Harness Cycle and Title Boxing to 2:30 in the morning when Jukebox closes,” she says. “There’s always somebody around.”
Already this year, Clevelanders have welcomed the arrival of City Girl Donuts
out in Rocky River and Brewnuts
in Detroit Shoreway. Does Bonning think there’s still room for more?
“Look at all the bars that exist; look at all the taco joints just in Lakewood,” she scoffs. “Everybody eats every day.”