Portland doughnut shops evolve to stay open

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland is known for a lot of things, doughnuts is certainly one of them. And Pip’s Original Doughnuts and Chai is well known for its doughnuts.

But these days you won’t find any doughnuts inside the doughnut shop. What you will find is rows of bags full of Community Chai.

“The donuts are taking a little bit of a back seat right now and the chai is stepping forward and it’s ruling the day,” said co-owner Nate Snell.

When the governor mandated restaurants shut down their dining rooms to customers, Pip’s got to work on revamping its business model.

“We pivoted and said our chai is world famous, let’s bottle it up and sell it and see if anyone’s interested,” said Snell. “And we sold out within minutes.”

So while the doughnut fryers might be cold, the stoves are still hot, brewing up batches of ultra-concentrated chai.

“It’s like the Popeye’s chicken sandwich of the Portland beverage industry right now,” Snell said.

There does seem to be a doughnut evolution unfolding across the city.

While there are no longer long lines of people waiting outside Voodoo Doughnuts in Old Town, the store is still open for business. It’s just take out and online orders only.

Blue Star Doughnuts is also changing up its game.

For the first time, the gourmet pastry shop will be selling a line of limited edition donuts in grocery stores around the metro area.

For many, it’s not just about business, it’s about giving back.

In Snell’s case, he’s actually donating 10% of his Community Chai profits to other struggling restaurants. 

“This one here is going to the restaurant Matta.”

Because when it comes to the local food industry, it might just take a community to save it.

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