Forget Duck Dynasty, It's a Donut Dynasty in Virginia

Dec 23, 2014

Despite the national crusade to stem the tide of obesity, a new chain of donut shops is spreading across the Commonwealth, making treats by hand in flavors consumers may never have considered. 

In a tiny shop near the corner of Lombardy and Leigh, Richmond residents line up to listen as Sarah Fitzpatrick  goes down the list of donuts available – a list that will change each hour.

“I have chocolate with Butterfinger, vanilla drizzle, I’ve got vanilla with chocolate chips, sprinkles, Oreos, M&Ms or Heath Bar, gingerbread either plan or with caramel.”

It takes more than a minute to share all the options.

“What do you recommend?  I really like the strawberry glaze.  Any of the fruit glazes are really good, because they’re always made with real fruit.  Maple bacon is our most popular donut, and when we have them, which is very rarely, the Lee’s fried chicken donuts are very popular.  What’s the approximate calorie count on these donuts?  I have no idea.  I don’t want to know.”

Sugar Shack was founded by Virginia native Ian Kelley, a former fine dining chef who was working in Seattle when he got wind of a crazy donut shop in Oregon.

“Voodoo Donuts in Portland was where I first started seeing people do something different, and hats off to them.  I mean they pioneered the way for creative donuts.  I mean their maple bacon is the beginning that’s the pinacle of maple bacon donuts.  Their Arnold Palmer – they would make a glaze of tea and lemonade, so they were a big inspiration for me on doing something new and different.”

But Kelley had something else in mind – a place that would celebrate gourmet coffee and espresso drinks while constantly changing the menu for donuts.

“There wasn’t anybody else who was just gung how – let’s do crazy toppings and create all our own flavors and make it by hand the way they used to.

So in June of 2013, he opened the first Sugar Shack.  In a matter of days, it closed.

“I completely underestimated how much business we were going to get day one, so we made it through the first four days, and then we had to shut the place down.  I ran out of flour, I ran out of sugar, I ran out of employees.  Y’know everybody was already on overtime in just four days.”