I always love seeing new and innovative food businesses. So when I saw that friend from college was one half of Drew and Eric’s Uptown Donuts, who connected with their customers by bike, I knew I had to follow along — even if I was out of the delivery zone.
Eric loves donuts. As a twenty-something living in Minneapolis, he developed a habit of treating himself to a donut and an OJ from a shop down the street on Saturday mornings. One day, he and his roommate, Drew, decided they could make better and more creative donuts themselves. (Side note: notice a trend?)
I met Drew when we were both sophomores at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. One of my best friends from high school was roommates with some of his friends from high school, so our paths crossed quite a bit during our remaining years at school. I always knew that Drew loved to cook and bake (delicious baked goods occasionally made their way over to our apartment) — this would prove to come in handy years later.
Building a Business
Around the same time, Drew and Eric also learned about Taco Cat — an underground taco delivery service in Minneapolis, delivering late night eats to customers by bike. This inspired the distribution model for Drew and Eric’s Uptown Donuts.
Like most food businesses, Eric and Drew started by promoting their products to their friends, family, and social networks and news spread through word of mouth. Since delivery by bike is a big component of their business, they shared their new business with a group called Tap n’ Tire — a Minneapolis biking group that would visit local breweries together. Friends and acquaintances would place orders, and they would share their satisfaction with their friends, until one day a complete stranger placed an order.
Shortly after starting the business, Eric got an opportunity to move to Melbourne, Australia. Now, Drew and Eric’s Uptown Donuts crosses borders (and hemispheres). Though they are not in the same location, and the tastes of their customers can vary (turns out Australians love chocolate donuts!), the production process remains the same. On Friday night the dough is mixed, then fried, glazed, and delivered on Saturday morning. The weekend hours on top of already full lives are worth it when they see the smile that only a delivered donut can bring.
They create new and interesting flavors every week, but a few stand out. Nutella Banana, Lemon Poppyseed, and PB&J are fan favorites… and I can see why.