No one can take a doughnut seriously. And that’s not a bad thing, either—at least not according to Chris Ritter, the 419’s newest doughnut purveyor at Holey Toledough. A self-proclaimed foodie and former line cook, Ritter decided now is the time to pursue his own culinary dreams.
Ritter hasn’t been making doughnuts for long; he came up with the idea last August, when he and his girlfriend realized that Toledo lacked a gourmet doughnut shop—a business concept which has recently become a staple in many large U.S. cities. After gathering inspiration from similar shops on the West Coast, he got hands-on pastry experience at Haas Bakery in Oregon, OH. He diligently practiced making doughnuts at home since September, testing shelf life and perfecting his recipes. The popular pastry has a standard four-to-six hour lifespan on the shelf, without preservatives.
When he was ready to sell his products, Ritter anticipated the awkward solicitation process typical for any new business, but was pleasantly surprised: “I put up a Facebook page instead of me going around door-to-door…it [was] more like trying to keep up with the emails of people saying, ‘hey, can we sell your doughnuts?’’ He added happily, “I haven’t had to go around looking like an idiot.”
The workday starts at 11:30pm for Ritter, as he’s responsible for making nearly 30 dozen doughnuts a night for his three café outlets. Each doughnut requires a three-part process from start to finish, and he refuses to cut any corners. He uses fresh apples for his apple fritters (versus canned pie filling), which happen to be his favorite. Ritter is adamant about having constantly changing varieties; a good mix of classic and trendy. “I like the idea of having a rotating, seasonal fresh menu,” he said.
Staples include the Maple Bacon, Holey Toledough’s most popular—and described by Ritter as “freaking great”—, fritters and glazed doughnuts. Ritter has non-traditional flavors down: The Whiskey Apple Cider doughnut with candied ginger (yes, he candies the ginger himself) is inspired by his favorite cocktail.
Bigger and better things
Holey Toledough’s progress is impressive given how long the business has been operating. In just a month of selling doughnuts, Ritter has already confirmed the company’s presence at the downtown Farmer’s Market this spring. He plans to put together a Kickstarter video for a business loan to eventually fund a storefront bakery. In the meantime, he’s trying to find a vacant space downtown with a pre-existing kitchen to accommodate the growing business – after all, those doughnuts won’t glaze themselves.
Get a taste of Holey Toledough at The Flying Joe (2130 Preston Pkwy., Perrysburg), or Black Kite Coffee & Pies (2499 Collingwood Blvd.). 410-810-7880. Daily vendor and flavor info available at facebook.com/HoleyToledough.