The FINANCIAL -- Many readers might remember dear Frank Grienke, successful self-made American businessman and philanthropist who has had a long love affair with Georgia. In the
late 90's Frank, who always had a nose for business wondered "why are there not any donuts for sale in Georgia". The rest is history. In 2000, the first donut bakery was opened - and behold, a new product was introduced by a small business in Georgia.
On 28th of September's 1000 donuts - a favorite of Americans - a day are sold at the Donut Stop. The donuts are sold at Kekelidze 16 and at the newest location Abashidze 10/12. In addition, you can find donuts at various prestigious supermarkets around town.
It was the pilgrims from Holland who brought donuts (or dough-nuts - since they originally were made with nuts in the middle) to America in the mid-19th century. The donuts of the American forefathers were usually prepared by then with apples, prunes or raisins in the middle. But now why do donuts have holes? Popular legend has it that Captain Hanson Crockett Gregory was given donuts by his mother for a long sea voyage. But he had difficulty steering his ship and holding his donut at the same time.
To solve the problem he poked the donut onto the spoke of the wheel. Happy with his practical solution he ordered his cook to henceforth prepare all donuts with a hole in the middle.
By the 1920's, donuts were being sold in mass though they were more popular as a snack in theatres then as a breakfast food. Nowadays, donuts - which average of 150 less calories than a bagel with cream cheese are popular not only for breakfast, but also for children birthday parties, staff meetings or as a dessert for guests.
The 1940's and 50's saw the advent of donut chains such as Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts. As coffee became more of a staple in bakeries across the country, the perception of the donut as a breakfast item became more prevalent. There was no stopping the famous donut at this point.
"Fridays are traditionally the best-selling days for donuts when around 1000 donuts are baked and distributed. We have 15 different types of donuts, including wonderful cinnamon buns," declared Gela Gelovani, Director of Donut Stop.
The original owners of the Donut Stop were Gia Morchiladze and his close friend Sergi Nakaidze. A few months ago, Amy Denman, an American who has lived in Georgia for more than 10 years, came in as a partner. Ms. Denman hopes to eventually start baking bagels at the bakery. "The market would be small, but certainly steady" Amy adds. "I've been so far concentrating on the lunch menu, because I'm not entirely convinced of a large breakfast market yet in Georgia."
Breakfast sales in the states are an estimated $65 million per year and growing according to instorebuyer.com online magazine.
The Donut Stop on Abashidze has two sections. One is for donut sales and the other is an excellent full service café. "We recently asked Rod MacKenzie to come in and do a complete revision of the menu and to do chef's training. It's perfect for a fast business lunch - soups and salads and terrific sandwiches. As a connoisseur of salads, I can honestly say we've got the best Caesar in town. " says Amy Denman.
"As for the price policy, Donuts have never been overly expensive. They are an affordable treat widely available to a large percentage of the population, regardless of social class. "We're intending to expand our net as far as possible without harming the quality of the products.
"All of our ingredients are imported from the US, except the chocolate products which come from Belgium. You simply can't find coconut or soy oil of the same standard anywhere else but the States," claimed Gelovani.
The model of the Donut Stop is something like a much more upscale Dunkin' Donuts - an international coffee and donut retailer that was founded in 1950 in Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S. by William Rosenberg. Dunkin' Donuts' slogan is America Runs On Dunkin'.
Dunkin Donuts claims to be "the world's largest coffee and baked goods chain," serving 2.7 million customers per day at over 7,000 stores globally which includes approximately 5,300 Dunkin' Donuts locations in 34 states throughout the USA. This figure is comparable to the 10,800 stores of the coffee chain Starbucks, whose baked goods are usually prepared out of shop.
Most Dunkin' Donuts stores are franchises.
Dunkin' Donuts is owned by Dunkin' Brands Inc. (previously Allied Domecq Quick Service Restaurants, a part of Allied Domecq). Dunkin' Brands was owned by the French beverage company, Pernod Ricard S.A. after it purchased Allied Domecq. They reached an agreement in December 2005 to sell the brand to a consortium of three private equity firms, Bain Capital Partners, the Carlyle Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners.
Dunkin' Donuts is well-known for their advertisements which have become popular culture references, especially in their home region of the north-eastern United States. As well as being featured in many films, they have a close relationship with the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots, making new commercials at the start of each team's season for promotions.
As for the Donut Stop, there are only two stores so far. But plans for expansion are underway. "So far we are concentrating on the center of Tbilisi, as we're not really sure yet of the market in the suburbs" stated Gelovani. Donut prices start as low as GEL 0.90.
"Donut Stop is most popular with the youth commented Khatuna Saganelidze, Donut Stop
Manager, "but our lunch market is growing rapidly with the new menu and we're seeing a lot of professionals come in for a quick salad and sandwich." The top selling salad on the menu is the Caesar followed by the Greek Feta salad. The BLT (bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich) is the number one best selling sandwich.
"We're also seeing a lot of people meet here for a date over donuts and coffee," added Saganelidze.
Thanks to the delivery service Donut Stop is ready to deliver directly to your office or home. "I always serve donuts at staff meetings," laughs Denman, "I think the sugar buzz makes everyone more alert"
Specially decorated mini donut holes are available for parties or special occasions,
but need to be ordered in advance. "In this respect we've had cooperation with the
Marriott and Sheraton hotels," said Saganelidze.