This week, David and Laura are joined by Virgil Downtree, owner of Downstate Donuts. Downstate Donuts has been cranking out life changing donuts since 2018. Many were shocked after just 4 months on the donut scene. They stole the show with first place @donutfest for a “simple” vanilla glazed donut. It’s all about that potato! Chicago restaurant industry pro Virgil, has taken the potato donut to new heights by focusing on fresh, local, and wholesome ingredients. You can find Downstate Donuts locally at Andale Market.
Listen to Episode 139 here!
Top podcast moments (by timestamp):
:49 – Hear Virgil tell us a little bit about himself and background. He’s been making donuts for 2 ½ years, but he originally went to school to become a political science major!
2:23 – What was he going to do with a poli-sci major? Tune in here to find out!
3:41 – Hear about how Downstate Donuts was started and the history behind the potato donut here. They ended up winning 1st prize their first time at a Donut Fest!
8:39 – Tune in to hear about where Downstate Donuts came from.
“I had this vision of the company being, sort of, small town America. A place where you could go with grandma and bring the kids.”
11:02 – Virgil tells us about how he came up with his “warm and welcoming” brand.
13:58 – What flavor did he win with at Donut Fest? Tune in to hear which donut to get during your next visit!
15:32 – Virgil explains their flavors and some crowd favorites. The sweet potato maple donut is a hit! He also discusses what differentiates them from other donut shops in the city.
“We’re not afraid to, sort of, test your palette … We try to find things that we like that are simple, good staples … But with that, we’ve always focused on trying to use really good ingredients.”
20:19 – Downstate Donuts works with the Andersonville Farmers Market. Hear about their journey to marketing themselves and becoming noticed. Their trikes make them hard to miss!
30:16 – Their donut business is now partnering with Ándale Market and selling donut tots! Hear about how this connection came about and if there are any new flavors in the works.
38:10 – What is it about the donut that draws such a large crowd? Hear Virgil’s answer here.
“It’s a vehicle for pretty much anything … It’s this very simplistic, easy thing that has flavor that everyone connects to.”
40:40 – Mia Sakai, the owner of Ándale Market, sent in some questions to ask our guest! Tune in here to listen. Questions include: You mentioned avoiding pastry in culinary school, so why donuts? Why potato? What does the potato add? You’ve been a resident of Andersonville for 10+ years (?) and started DSD here, both at the Farmer’s Market and with the trike. How has this community in particular helped shape your business? You’re a bit of a one man band — wearing all the hats including cook, distributor, business man, PR, marketing, everything. What are your favorite parts of the business? Least favorite? Last summer you shared a post about being a black business owner and what it felt like to see small businesses being destroyed, but also understanding what triggered everything. What can we, as a community, do to support our black and brown community members and business owners? [this is pretty loaded, and I’m not quite sure how to phrase this to him, but I think it’s a missed opportunity to skirt it.]
1:00:32 – Tune in to hear Rapid Fire Questions! Questions include: Donut hole or donut whole? Favorite TV show? When do you sleep? Favorite flavor?