“People are switching back to doughnuts,” according to Noel Johnston. Mr Johnston is owner of the newly opened Donut Tree, a retail outlet in Lisburn’s Bow Street Mall in Northern Ireland.
He has worked in the catering business for over 15 years, attending sporting events and exhibitions with a specialist donut unit. But when Mr Johnston took over the ailing café site that is now the Donut Tree, he had big plans for his new business.
Up and running since the beginning of the year, Donut Tree sells a range of US-style ring donuts, including hot sugared and cold glazed varieties. The 12-strong standard range of flavours includes maple syrup, chocolate, strawberry, caramel and mint, and extra toppings such as chopped nuts, coconuts and M&Ms are available too. Mr Johnston says the most popular flavours are maple and caramel.
Also on offer is a range of cookies and muffins, which are freshly baked in the store each day, mainly from scratch, and any unsold product is discarded at the end of the day. Beverages include milkshakes, teas and coffees, provided by local supplier Johnsons.
Mr Johnston says that while the Bow Street Mall has a number of food outlets, there is no direct competition for the Donut Tree – he regards the store as being in a class of its own. “Our sales are buoyant and there’s certainly no sign of decline,” he says.
He is already looking to expand the business, although at present is undecided whether it will be through the acquisition of new outlets or by creating a franchise chain.
“If the right sites come up then we will look at opening new outlets,” he says, “but equally we could be franchising in the future. It’s all up for discussion.”