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Some spirited new treats are taking over Houston. These doughnuts may come from dark magic, but followers have certainly seen the light. From Portland to Austin, Voodoo Doughnut fanatics have fallen under the spell of the funky flavors and daring designs.
And this summer, they’re headed to Houston. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Voodoo Doughnut is setting up its sweet shop at 3715 Washington Avenue. It may be Voodo’s second outpost in the Lone Star State, but there’s still a first — it’ll be the first drive-thru location, for when you just gotta get some on the go.
The drive thru wasn’t so much plan as serendipity. It’s all part of Voodoo’s go-with-the-flow attitude. The cult brand found this building on Washington and fell in love with it, and it happened to already had a drive-thru window attached.
“We’re just silly enough to do it. It’s not so much a question of ‘Why?’ but ‘Why not?’ ” Voodoo’s CEO Chris Schultz laughs.
Schultz can certainly attest to Voodoo’s unabashedly offbeat attitude, with a career that began at Starbucks before a move to Mod Pizza. You could call the cultures at Starbucks and Voodoo night and day.
“We paint outside the lines,” Schultz says. “We’re the originator of gourmet doughnuts. We did it 15 years ago when it was unheard of. Who put bacon on top of a Maple Bar? Voodoo did it 15 years ago. Today it feels like the norm.”
That’s yielded the Maple Blazer Blunt dusted in cinnamon sugar, the Viscous Hibiscus that tastes just like the flower, the Gay Bar with Bavarian cream and Fruit Loops.
And, of course, the signature Voodoo Doll — a truly funky fixture, shaped like a little doll and stabbed with a pretzel stick, voodoo in action. There are tons of different Voodoo Dolls out there.
Way back in the day, there was even a Nyquil Doughnut. It was a short-lived headline-grabber, ended by the FDA. Pepto Bismol was yet another unexpected flavor.
“We push the envelope, push the needle. That’s probably the wackiest we’ve done,” Schultz chuckles.
“Many of our ideas come from people that work in our stores — they come up with creative ideas. Or sometimes customers will come in with them. Our founders, they would go to the grocery store and just pull stuff off of shelves.”
Voodoo’s CEO anticipates some Bayou City-inspired doughnuts, but won’t reveal any designs just yet.
But for all of their own out-there ideas, the sky is the limit when it comes to creations. Custom orders are a big business, from holidays to birthdays to sports and beyond.
“We have incredibly creative artists that work for us. Decorating a doughnut sounds very simple. I will tell you from firsthand experience, it is not,” Schultz says.
But they don’t sacrifice flavor in favor of aesthetics. “I think people come for the novelty and stay for the quality,” Schultz says. “I think they come because they’ve heard of Vooodoo or read about it. The bar’s really high, the expectation of Voodoo.
“I think they walk away thinking ‘the doughnuts were really good, and by the way the service was awesome.’”
And there will be many opportunities and locations to experience it. Schultz wants to keep Voodoo exclusive, but it’s definitely growing. “We’re coming to Houston and very proud to be in Houston. We’ll open several more stores in and around Houston in the next six to 18 months. But we won’t be on every street corner,” he says.
The Voodoo Cult — and Long Lines
You can expect a long line at Voodoo, at least in the beginning, the doughnut king warns — but it’s worth it.
“You queue up to see a movie, you queue up to see a great concert, or for a museum. But when you get there, it’s worth the wait,” Schultz says.
Maybe the time of day will dictate the lines, and perhaps there’s a sweet spot you can hit as this sweet shop.
“We serve families in the morning and those folks who go off to work who want to grab a dozen uniquely different doughnuts for their friends at work,” he says.
“We serve the folks in the afternoon for a little snack, a little treat for themselves, or families after a soccer game or baseball game,” Schultz tells PaperCity. “Then, we also serve those friends who kind of roll in after midnight. Those folks tend to get a little hungry.
“In Houston, the default is Whataburger. We’ll be the Whataburger.”
Any time of day, people just keep coming back to doughnuts. “Doughnuts have been around forever. I think what harkens people back to doughnuts — as a kid, it was a treat you got. If I did well in school or did something really good, I got a treat,” Schultz says. “It reminds people of what they used to get as a kid.”
They’re something of an escape. “The world’s so crazy right now. Things are so crazy, we could argue for hours about all that’s going on in the world,” Schultz notes. “But we’re not going to argue that a glazed doughnut is damn good.”
So, is Voodoo Doughnut a doughnut hole in one? You’ll soon get to decide.