There are a dozen different places to get a doughnut in Tucson these days, but the city of San Diego has one to rule them all.
The SoCal chain Donut Bar commands lines every morning with whimsical creations like the unicorn doughnut and the Big Poppa-Tart stuffed with an entire Pop Tart. Donut Bar has been called the best doughnut shop in the state of California by Thrillist ... and now it's expanding into Tucson.
Franchisees Jessica and Nick Mueller decided to move to Tucson from San Diego to pursue Nick's dream of owning his own business.
"This is something that I've been passionate about for awhile," Nick said. "I started looking at franchises awhile back knowing that we wanted to go back to our roots in Tucson. And the franchise became available, we talked to them about it, they thought it was a great idea and now we're here."
Donut Bar is going into the previously vacant space at 33 N. Sixth Ave., part of the historic Arizona Hotel Building which also houses the downtown location of Miss Saigon. Jessica said that Donut Bar's atmosphere is one of its biggest selling points. The Tucson location will feature a "cool glass window" where you can see your doughnuts being made in the kitchen.
The store will make 15 varieties of cake and yeast doughnuts every day, and will stay open until it sells out, usually between 11 a.m. and noon. The chain is also known for its Instagrammable mashups like the made-to-order French toast doughnut and the grilled cheese doughnut with melted American and havarti cheese in the center.
Every Thursday through Saturday, the store will reopen in the evenings from 5-10 p.m. to serve doughnuts and local craft beers. The store has eight taps and will serve brews from Dillinger Brewing Company, Dragoon Brewing Company, 1912 Brewing and more. They will also have a red, white and rosé wine, as well as a sparkling wine for those morning mimosas.
The company itself ran into legal trouble last November when three different franchisees filed a case against the chain's franchising operation Sweet Assets Franchise Group. According to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, the franchisees alleged that they were misled about the costs and financial performance of the business. One of the parties involved were the owners of the now-closed Scottsdale store, which shuttered in October and lasted less than a year.
The Tucson location is also going up against locally-owned gourmet doughnut shops, like Batch Cafe & Bar a couple blocks away on Congress. (Irene's Donuts on Fourth Avenue is set to close Feb. 23.) But Jessica and Nick aren't too worried.
"We believe in our product and the experience, and there's definitely things that set us apart from what other establishments offer," Jessica said. "There's always worry and concern, but we trust in our product and our staff, and yeah, we're just gonna work hard."
Donut Bar will hold its grand opening at 8 a.m. Feb. 22 with family activities and swag bag giveaways for the first 100 people in line. Regular hours will be Monday through Friday 7 a.m. until they sell out, and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. until they sell out. The store will also be open Thursday through Saturday evenings from 5-10 p.m.