What do Oreos, bacon, bubble gum dust and Captain Crunch have in common? Well, turns out they all make out-of-this-world doughnut toppings. From sweet garnishes like these, to a spectrum of tasty fillings and funky doughnut shapes, Voodoo Doughnut is revolutionizing the doughnut industry by giving the classic glaze a run for its money. With a new store that opened Halloween weekend on East Sixth Street in Austin, the company is continuing to expand from its Portland roots. ORANGE sat down with Laura Wolken, longstanding member of the company and the manager of the new shop to find out more about the company moving to Austin, its grand opening party and, of course, to try a few of Voodoo’s notorious doughnuts.
Story by Joanna Steblay
Photos by Natalie Campbell
Establishing their first store in Portland in 2003, Voodoo Doughnut founders Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon chose the quirky restaurant theme to honor the culture of the deep south and to tie in Pogson’s hometown of Memphis, Tenn. Now, with only four other stores, three of which are in the flagship state of Oregon, the Austin expansion proves a significant move for Voodoo. Wolken says that the bakery saw Portland and Austin as almost “sister cities," and believed the palette and energy of Austin would be a good fit for their next shop. “There didn’t seem to be a great place you could go super late at night, like after partying, to fix your sugar craving,” Wolken says.
Though other new-age doughnut shops exist in Austin, like Gourdough’s on the other end of Sixth Street, Wolken says that Voodoo Doughnut still feels they are bringing something new to the area. The company bakes its doughnuts with traditional yeast and cake doughnut dough, while Gourdough’s uses a biscuit dough base. In this way, both companies have established their own niche in transforming both the doughnut and the dessert industry in Austin.
Wolken says the company has been successful with Austin customers following just over two weeks of soft openings. The company’s official Austin opening was this past Halloween weekend, where a ribbon cutting took place followed by a performance by the band Hickoids, and delicious doughnuts produced nonstop. The regular menu included a few special features for the event, like a Halloween-themed ghost doughnut, but for the most part the core Voodoo favorites are promoting the shop for themselves. Among these standout doughnuts are the Bacon Maple Bar and the Old Dirty Bastard consisting of Oreos and peanut butter. Voodoo Doughnut even has a “Texas Ass Challenge” — a giant doughnut equal to the size of six regular doughnuts. If the doughnut is eaten in less than 80 seconds, it’s free!
After trying a random selection of Voodoo doughnuts myself, the Memphis Mafia — a mountain of doughnut, banana chunks, cinnamon, peanut butter and chocolate chips — quickly became my new favorite dessert fix. One of the more traditional options on the menu, the blueberry cake doughnut, took me by surprise with its flavor and freshness.
With its creative and flavorful doughnut options, late night hours and eccentric store interior, it’s no secret that Voodoo Doughnut will be working magic on East Sixth Street as it opens this fall. The store will be open for business from 7 a.m. Wednesdays through sell out on Sunday evenings, until 2016 when it plans to open 24/7.