By: Gigi Grimes
Photos by: Mollie Coyle
District Doughnut isn’t your average doughnut company. They’re taking a long-standing tradition and food staple (the founders have been friends eating doughnuts since the 6th grade), and revolutionizing it with a gourmet chef and fresh idea. The company began as an idea but transformed into a career that Greg, one of the founders, claims he “never could’ve imagined.”
It all started back in the 6th grade when the cofounders, Juan Pablo and Greg, became friends. The two played sports like most teens, but shared a deep love for doughnuts. “From 6th grade until we graduated, we probably consumed more doughnuts than most people will in an entire lifetime” explains Greg, “We would go every day on our break to a Dunkin’ Doughnuts near by and grow our friendship. It was just a shared mutual enjoyment.”
Upon graduating from college with a degree in accounting, Juan Pablo felt unsatisfied with his career choice and decided to follow in his father’s entrepreneurial footsteps. He had the idea to create a better doughnut—one made with real things, by real people. He wanted to create an experience of joy for people, similar to what he felt as a child, where people could come to the store, love the product, and leave genuinely happy. While at a reunion in DC, Juan Pablo happened to meet a pastry chef, Christine, whom he pitched his idea to. Though reluctant at first, Chef Christine agreed to join the venture. Over the next couple years they planned out recipes, built a business plan, and brought old time friend Greg into the company. Juan Pablo made sure that Chef Christine had artistic freedom with her creations, leading to several incredible and beautiful flavors including: Brown Butter, Key Lime Pie, and Dulce de Leche. The group continued to work, bringing small batches to customers and “giving them testers as if they were final products,” expanding District Doughnut’s customer base. Finally, after three years of hard work, the group got their storefront at 749 8th St SE in DC and the response was unimaginable. “Lines down the block. Something that we never would’ve predicted and we realized we created something that people really responded to and loved,” said Greg.
While their story isn’t short of extraordinary, their doughnuts are no less impressive—each one looks like a unique work of art. Chef Christine’s artistic abilities shine with each individual creation. This attention to detail has earned the company nods from Food & Wine Magazine, which listed theirs as some of the best doughnuts in the country, as well as celebrity chef and TV personality Alton Brown, whom they personally delivered doughnuts to after his request to meet them. Chef Alton Brown even tweeted about them!
The flavors that Chef Christine creates vary by season, but she makes sure to include customer favorites. The two original doughnuts that the company is most famous for are the Dulce de Leche, which she made for Juan Pablo, and the Brown Butter, which was her original doughnut; her take on what a “quintessential” doughnut should be like.
For the fall season, they’re introducing some new flavors. “For fall we’ll have pumpkin spice and pumpkin glaze. And we do a sweet potato pie flavor during thanksgiving.” As for his favorite flavor, Greg says Chef Christine created a fluffernutter doughnut with homemade marshmallow filling topped with a peanut butter glaze. “I had never had real marshmallow before and it was incredible,” mentioned Greg. But the next flavor is one that he finds most exciting. Crowned the Crème Bruleche, this doughnut will be filled with dulce de leche crème and topped with a burnt sugar that they will be burning live for customers. I know. My mouth is watering too.
For those looking to start their own company, Greg says that the key is to “stay closest to the people who are good advisors and can keep you pushing forward.” I think it’s evident that District Doughnut will continue to climb to the top of the doughnut community. Look out for them at the farmers market each Wednesday in Red Square, and live by my new motto: whenever you do-nut feel like doing your homework, grab a doughnut!