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The Salty Is Planning a Doughnut Domination
It all started as a pop-up in a tiny trailer
In early December 2015, a small blue and white trailer set up shop in a parking lot in the Wynwood section of Miami. The trailer sold doughnuts and coffee and called itself the Salty Donut (the company has since changed its name to the Salty).
At first, partners in life and business, Andy Rodriguez and Amanda Pizarro, saw little activity. “The first couple of weeks, there was nobody there — just friends and family.” The couple closed the little trailer for the Christmas holiday and when they reopened a few weeks later, something remarkable happened: Lines of hundreds of people started forming each morning, with the couple selling out of doughnuts in just a few short hours. “When we came back it was like our customer base multiplied times a thousand,” says Rodriguez.
In a few short months, the Salty moved into a permanent brick-and-mortar in Wynwood. The lines continue to this day, with people waiting in the hot Florida sun for a chance to snag a brown butter and salt or maple bacon doughnut.
Just shy of the Salty’s seventh anniversary, there are now six locations in Miami, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Austin, and Dallas — with shops in Coconut Grove, Tampa, and Charlotte, North Carolina on the way.
“We’re expanding all over the place,” says Rodriguez, adding that the company’s growth strategy is choosing cities that have a ton of growth potential. On the radar: Houston, Nashville, Atlanta, and Charlotte.”
Rodriguez says that he and Pizarro’s passion for doughnuts is also what drives the company’s success. “Amanda and I have also been obsessed with food and food experiences. This is going back to childhood. “ The couple first learned about artisanal doughnuts when they started traveling throughout the United States together. “We didn’t even know artisanal doughnuts were a thing,” the Miami native admits. Together, they decided to explore the country in search of the best doughnuts. “In California and Oregon on every other block there’s a cool bakery or a brewery,” says Rodriguez adding that as early as 2014, Miami wasn’t the hotbed of culinary activity it is today. “We didn’t have any of that stuff.”
So, the couple decided that if they were obsessed with doughnuts, Miamians would be, too. First, however, they had to perfect their product. Though neither had formal baking experience, Rodriguez said they both had good palates and a solid idea of what they wanted in a product. "From the beginning, we knew we wanted a brioche doughnut”
Different than traditional yeast or cake doughnuts, the Salty’s doughnuts eat more like a pastry: break open a Salty doughnut and you’ll see layers of brioche dough. This makes for a doughnut that’s also less sugary and allows for more creativity when it comes to fillings and toppings. “We wanted our doughnuts to stand on their own. We wanted a doughnut that felt like a pastry in your hand.”
The Salty has several core flavors that are unique to each location. From there, there are several seasonal flavors that rotate continuously. The company also collaborates with local favorite restaurants and breweries.
More than anything, Rodriguez contributes the Salty’s success in the basics. “At the end of the day, we’re in the hospitality industry. The service has to be awesome, the product has to be great, and the place has to be clean. Sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how hard it is.”
The doughnut maven said that the company plans to grow strategically, starting through the south and southwest. From there, the skies the limit. “How big can we go? For me, it’s more a question of how many people can we get to have the Salty experience? That’s what it is for me. That’s what gets me up in the morning.”