It’s a quiet Friday morning on Sunset Corporate Drive in the southeast valley.
Although Carl’s Donuts’ glass doors are locked and the front room is empty, the back bakery is springing into action.
An orderly formation of doughnuts travels down a conveyor belt. Machines softly flip the doughnuts, giving them a soft and fluffy texture on each side.
On another machine, jumbo twists pass under a waterfall of glaze.
Tall carts hold countless trays of doughnuts, some of which are waiting to be decorated.
Carl’s Donuts is just the tip of the iceberg in the doughnut industry.
With so many options, how do shops keep their customers coming back?
“It’s about offering an experience that a customer can’t get somewhere else,” said Mary Chapman, director of product innovation at Technomic, a Chicago food consulting firm. Such as having seasonal ingredients or outside-of-the-box flavors, she said.
Dunkin’ Donuts also offers a selection of breakfast and bakery sandwiches, as well as hot and iced beverages so its customers have options. According to a company press kit, more than 1.8 billion cups of coffee, both hot and iced, are sold globally each year.
The worldwide franchise, is expanding in Las Vegas. There are 17 locations in Southern Nevada. The latest location opened July 15.
Chapman said that if Dunkin’ Donuts — which is “the leader by far” in the national doughnut industry — is growing, then the doughnut business is growing.
Wholesale doughnut bakeries, franchises and small doughnut businesses in the valley have different characteristics that distinguish them from the “traditional” doughnut shop.
O Face Doughnuts, located inside the John E. Carson Hotel, 124 S. Sixth St., offers three kinds of doughnuts: In Hand, Fork and Knives and Savory, in addition to a variety of beverages to accompany the doughnuts.
The In Hand doughnuts, according to its menu, are “easy to eat by hand.” According to Crystal Whitford, chef and general manager, Fork and Knives doughnuts are gourmet (and they don’t have to be eaten with utensils) and last, the Savory doughnuts are made to order and served straight out of the fryer.
Whitford said that all of the doughnuts are made in house from scratch. She said O Faces uses canola oil rather than shortening to keep the doughnuts fresh longer.
The chef said she takes different dessert components and puts them in a doughnut. O Face is“always changing things” for customers to try but keep “consistent quality product.”
Pink Box Doughnuts also offers gourmet doughnuts.
“We offer between 45 and 55 flavors a day,” said owner Roberto Armanino, which “keeps customers intrigued.”
There are three types of doughnuts: classic, gourmet and specialty.
Armanino said he likes “to call it affordable leisure” and that it’s an escape.
The customers for Carl’s Donuts are different from your average doughnut shop since it’s a wholesale bakery. According to David Ramsay, director of sales, customers include major convenience stores, casinos and local businesses.
Carl’s Donuts offers doughnuts, danishes, muffins, bagels, cookies, brownies and croissants.
“No one else in town can do what we do at the scale of what we do,” Ramsay said. “We’re a Las Vegas company.”
The company’s location at 6350 Sunset Corporate Drive covers 23,000 square feet and employs 85 people. According to Ramsay, Carl’s sold 23 million doughnuts last year.
Craving a hot glazed doughnut?
When Krispy Kreme’s “hot light” is on, it tells customers that glazed doughnuts are being made, said Lincoln Spoor, owner of the five franchises in Nevada as well as in four other states.
Walking into the shop during that time, customers are “able to see doughnuts being made” and receive a free glazed doughnut, he said.
Spoor said that Krispy Kreme has “survived the test of time” since it have been around since 1937 and in Las Vegas since 1998.
Whitford hopes that doughnuts are the “next cupcake craze.”
“As long as people enjoy sweet treats, we’ll be around,” Ramsay said.
Contact Andrea Corral at email@example.com or 702-383-0285. Find her on Twitter: @andrea_corral2.