Who do voodoo like they do? Q&A with Voodoo Doughnut founders

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

VoodooDoughnutFounders.jpg
Voodoo owners Kenneth Pogson and Tres Shannon

PORTLAND Five years ago two Portlanders opened a doughnut shop with little more than a few off-color creations and a lot of ambition. Now, as Voodoo Doughnut approaches its wood anniversary, owners Kenneth Pogson and Tres Shannon have seen their downtown Portland doughnut shop amass international headlines and TV spots watched by millions. Almost immediately after opening in the spring of 2003, Voodoo Doughnut became a city icon and as much a must-do tourist stop as Powell’s or the Pittock. We recently pulled the duo away from the deep fryer to get their once and future reflections.

How do you keep up with demand in that tiny hole in the wall?
Shannon: We are in the process of establishing a second location right now. We’re still being a little vague about it because the deal’s not been finalized. It’ll be in one of the four quadrants in Portland. We really need a second location. We’re turning business away right now.
Pogson: If you go back to our original notes, it’s pretty much the plan we laid out. Opening day, we looked at each other and said that by five years we should have another place. And we’re coming up on it. Now the franchise people are bugging us. They want to give us millions of dollars to make it like Starbucks, but we don’t want to do that. We don’t want to cash it in yet. We’re still having a good time.

voodoodoughnuts.jpgWho’s your customer?
Pogson: Everybody. Where we’re situated, we’ve got the bank tower nearby, and there are 5,000 people in that everday. And there aren’t any other doughnut shops around. Different times of the day we have different crowds: business in the morning, family and travelers in the afternoon and partiers at night. There’s still a lot of crossover. Saturdays and Sundays, 50% of business is tourists.

How many doughnuts do you sell a day?
Pogson: On an incredible day we can sell between 15,000 and 20,000 doughnuts.

How’s the commodity market treating you?
Pogson: Soy and palm, which are the oils we use, have about doubled in the last year. The eggs and the milk and the flour have skyrocketed as well. But it’s a doughnut. It doesn’t cost that much to make. Plus, in my eyes, we’re still a vice industry, and when times are bad vice industries always do fine.

What’s the Magic 8 Ball say?
Shannon: Worldwide doughnut domination.                                   

EVAN CAEL


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