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Business Beacon: Inside Parlor Doughnuts

Editor’s note: This month’s Business Beacon is a spotlight on Parlor Doughnuts. With two locations in Fort Walton Beach and Miramar Beach, it’s certain to become your newest glazed craze. We talked to GM Ryan Ford to get his take on this “hole” food.

Do you have a business you think we should feature? Leave a comment below!

1. How did you get the idea or concept for your business?

RF: The owner of the business has always had a passion for doughnuts and coffee. That passion began to form into a dream whenever he and his son’s band traveled around the United States touring from city to city and stopping to eat doughnuts and drink coffee along the way. Over a 10-year time span, the owner and his son compiled a list of items that they thought made the perfect doughnut and best coffee. From that list, Parlor Doughnuts and Proper Coffee were born.

2. Let’s discuss numbers: What year did you open? How many locations do you have? How many people do you employ?

RF: We opened in February 2018. We currently have six Parlor Doughnuts that are open. We have four that are being built or designed.

3. What do you sell or what service do you provide? What’s your best seller?

RF: We sell a wide variety of doughnuts including our famous layered doughnuts in 22 flavors, keto doughnuts, dog doughnuts, vegan and gluten-free doughnuts, fresh-pressed orange juice, a variety of coffee, and soon, a full breakfast menu all day.

4. What’s unique about what you do or offer?

RF: What makes Parlor Doughnuts unique is our products and our genuine aim to serve the people. At our core, we try and think outside of the box and swim upstream compared to the traditional way of doing things and we truly strive to have the person we serve come back and see us again.

5. How would you describe your business to a potential customer?

RF: Parlor Doughnuts can be summed up by our core values. We serve each other and our customers with enthusiasm. We are driven by the constant progression of everything we do with excellence and an entrepreneurial spirit. In every city we go to we are looking to engage with the community. We strive to serve our customers and our employees with efficiency. And lastly, we uphold a high ethical standard in business.

6. What do you love most about your line of work?

RF: The thing I love most about my job at Parlor is the diversity of work that I have on a day-to-day basis. I may be making doughnuts at 3:30 in the morning, designing kitchens at noon, and framing walls in the evening. There is never a dull moment at the doughnut shop.

7. What sorts of trends are you seeing in your industry?

RF: It seems like doughnuts are everywhere nowadays. From pool floats to dog toys, doughnuts are penetrating more than just the restaurant business. I see the big corporations like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts popping up all over the country in the next five years and, in the same vein, I see many people with a dream and some dough taking a leap of faith of their own dreams of owning and operating a pastry and coffee shop.

8. Tell me in just a sentence or two what you feel sets you apart from your competitors.

RF: I’ve said it before, the proof is in the dough. Our doughnuts are unlike most pastries that people have had before. We strive to be different with what we offer and we have a genuine desire to deliver our customers an experience that has them come back and see us again.

9. Who or what inspires you? This could be a family member or celebrity, a particular quote or even a book/movie/podcast. This sky’s the limit!

RF: I have been most inspired by the person of Jesus. I would be lying if I said that I could take credit for where I’m at in my life or for the successes that have accompanied me. The only way I could do what I’m doing is because He has done what He’s done. The teachings of Jesus have inspired much of my young adult life.

10. What’s the best thing about being a part of the Emerald Coast, personally and/or professionally?

RF: We started this company back in Evansville, Indiana, in 2018. That being said, most of us used to see the beach once or twice a year at best. Now that my family and I live here and get to experience the beach on a daily basis, there is nothing that could pull us back to the cornfields of Indiana.

11. Are you/your business involved in the community in any way? Volunteering or giving back? If so, how?

RF: We are actively trying to join efforts in the community that have been presented to us by our coworkers and by some of the organizations that we are a part of. We have partnered with some local churches to help with welcoming new members to the church and we are excited to help in any way we can with the Fort Walton Beach Chamber Of Commerce and their efforts to find a solution to help the homeless in the community.

12. What does a typical day in your business look like? (Pretend it’s Monday (or Friday!) and take me through the highlights of your day.)

RF: My day starts around 3 a.m. on my journey to the coffee shop. I set the tone early with an Americano and have my dough prepped by 3:30. I enjoy my moments alone in the morning with the doughnuts as I wait on my first sleepy employees to stroll in to help get the store ready for our first customers. By 6:30 a.m., we have a full case (48 dozen) of doughnuts that are ready to be boxed up and shipped out. Those are normally taken by the first wave of people at 8 a.m. The process never stops and the people don’t stop coming until around noon when they are ready to hit the beach. At that moment, we reload on coffee and start prepping dough for the next shift and for the following day. We will fry the night away until close around 6:30 p.m., where the last lucky customers may walk away with a free box of doughnuts. A small nap after work and we’re back at it again in the morning for the next battle.

13. What’s your best “insider tip?” (This could be a community tip for vacationers or homeowners or even a tip for customers related to your business.)

RF: My best tip for anyone visiting the area is to be totally spontaneous. The Emerald Coast is so fortunate to have so many different activities and things to do that there should never be someone that goes home bored. My wife and I have found ourselves on our days off trying to narrow down what NOT to do, which was always the opposite for us back home. Do something new!

14. How do you recharge or relax when the day is done?

RF: This may come as a surprise to those who know me, but I am naturally very introverted. Not saying I don’t love people, but it takes a lot for me to engage in conversation for an extended period of time. The best way for me to recharge and relax is to just be at home with my wife, son, and puppy. Spending time with them is my favorite pastime in the world.

15. Just the deets, please! Where are you located? Business hours? Social media profiles and/or website links we need to know about? (Please feel free to add social media handles or direct links!)

RF: Fort Walton Beach — 191 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
Miramar Beach — 9375 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Miramar Beach, FL 32550
We are open Monday-Sunday, 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Check out their social media accounts: Facebook | Instagram or on the web.

16. One final question: If there was just one thing you wish the public knew about your business, what would it be?

RF: We genuinely want our customers to come back and see us. For us, being able to see that person come back, greet them by name, say hi to their kids and ask how school is, and serve them a product that we enjoy ourselves is everything. Being in a tourist spot I understand that isn’t always the case but I hope as we stand in the community long enough and continue to be faithful to serve, we will get to see families come back and get our doughnuts and coffee as a tradition to their vacations.

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