For Louisiana restaurant owners Shaun Ross and Marianne Spears, success is all in the “chicken scratch” numbers he keeps in a bunch of gnarly notebooks, a great donut recipe and a thriving breakfast business.
As of Friday, Feb. 15, the Daybreak Donuts couple had sold 1,008,143 donuts from their location at the corner of Main and Georgia streets since July 4, 2006.
“I broke one million on Jan. 30,” Ross said. “I can tell you what I made on what day and what the weather was,” from his records.
“You have to keep track of what you made and sold so the next day your can adjust your batches to meet the demand. Otherwise, I’d just be making donuts.
“When Valentine’s Day was coming, I looked at the book and it said it would be busy but the day before and the day after it isn’t,” Ross said.
The records tell Ross and Spears how much flour and sugar they are using at any given time and what the yield is to control costs.
Ross learned his “nearly greaseless” donut recipe from his grandmother and used it at his first bakery, Gussie’s Donuts, which he ran in Bowling Green from 1996 to 2006.
“I’m really on my second million,” Ross said. “I made my first million (donuts) in that bakery.”
The new bakery’s record for one day is 3,600 donuts, which he did about three years ago, boosted by a large order from the Northeast Correctional Center in Bowling Green.
“They wanted 100 dozen but my fryer broke down in the middle of everything and I only got to 88 dozen,” Ross said.
The old way
With the donuts, “everything’s done old-fashioned, it’s mixed and raised three times, hand cut, rolled and filled. There’s no thawing involved, which means fresh.”
They are also closely scrutinized.
“Everything counts, the room temperature, the flour temperature and the humidity,” Ross said. “You get your dough to 80 degrees and cut your doughnuts from that.”
Ross starts his work day at 10 p.m. and immediately begins making donuts.
“It takes us until 5 a.m. to get them all done and to get ready for breakfast,” Ross said.
Joining him through the night is employee Patrick Eastman of Louisiana.
“Marianne comes at 8 a.m., closes breakfast, makes sure we have what we need from the suppliers and gets us ready for the night,” Ross said. “I’m generally in bed by 3 p.m.”
Although the hard work, returning clientele and donut recipe all make the business go, “it’s also the passion,” Ross said.
“What bugs me is when I go somewhere (to eat) and the people don’t care about what they are doing.”
It’s also about pleasing customers.
“At the end of the day, it’s about folks getting here and having a good time,” Ross said. “It’s lots of work but they keep coming back and I get to do what I do.”
Daybreak Donuts is open every morning except Monday.