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Q&A: A Dessert Deep Dive

The Denver franchise owner of Fractured Prune, Mark Rothermel, shares the strategy behind his doughnuts


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As Denver's dining scene has expanded and matured over the last decade, national brands have taken notice and made the move to the Mile High City.

One such brand, Fractured Prune, originally opened its doors in 1976 in Ocean City, Maryland. Since, the franchise has expanded to 26 stores nationwide, including one brick and mortar location in Denver.

Following a year-long closure, the build-your-own doughnut destination re-opened February 16 in the Denver Tech Center at 9696 East Arapahoe Road. The original Denver location opened in 2015 at 4090 East

Mark Rothermel, franchise owner of Fractured Prune doughnuts in Colorado is a U.S. Army veteran with a business background. The father of four focuses on work-life balance, and runs five franchise locations of the doughnut shop in three states. 

We caught up with Rothermel to discuss the business behind his tasty rounds

CB: DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF RE-OPENING FRACTURED PRUNE IN THE DENVER MARKET.

MR: "We had to become as efficient as possible. A big part of that process is ensuring that we're getting doughnuts to people the way they want them, and when. One of our greatest successes in that arena has been our business delivery program which delivers Fractured Prune doughnuts to offices on a monthly/regular schedule.

WHAT WAS THE THOUGHT PROCESS BEHIND MOVING THE ORIGINAL FRACTURED PRUNE LOCATION ON COLORADO BOULEVARD TO THE DTC AREA? 

People loved our doughnuts, but being further north made it difficult for most of our customers to get to us. Our biggest fan base was already in DTC, so when the building became available, it just made sense to make the move.

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THIS BUSINESS?

As a doughnut lover myself, I really liked the idea of providing people with fresh doughnuts that are made-to-order. This model also allows people to create their own custom doughnut flavor – an interactive process that the customer can watch from start to finish.

HOW DOES FRACTURED PRUNE DIFFERENTIATE ITSELF?

Our proprietary mix definitely sets us apart. It's unlike any other vanilla cake doughnut; it's not greasy and has a great crunchy outer layer. It really is more like a pastry than a dense doughnut.

WHAT'S THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EACH MARKET WHERE YOU OWN LOCATIONS – NEVADA AND ARIZONA?

Each market has certain flavors that people gravitate toward. Here in Denver, fruity flavors are really popular while our mocha doughnut is a top seller in Vegas.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE LOCAL SMALL- TO MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESS COMMUNITY HERE IN COLORADO? HAS THAT PROVEN BENEFICIAL FOR FRACTURED PRUNE HERE?

It's been very supportive, specifically in the business community of Greenwood Village. They have really welcomed us and have been extremely supportive.

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR CHALLENGES WITHIN THIS BUSINESS?

Like many other restaurant and business owners are feeling in the city right now, there is a demand for loyal, energetic employees. It's much more of a challenge making doughnuts to order versus making a big batch in the morning and closing when inventory runs out. Staying open later provided us the opportunity to be there for our customer when a craving strikes.

WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR YOUR BRAND?

Hopefully more expansion across Colorado and the West.

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Gigi Sukin

Gigi Sukin is digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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