Protein-Packed Doughnuts find new home in RiNo

“Shark Tank” company, The Dough Bar, has firmly planted its roots in Colorado after a year of changes, challenges, and, finally, triumph.
The Dough Bar
The Dough Bar co-founders, Marquez and Ondrea Fernandez outside of The Doughnut Club in Denver.

The active lifestyle of many Coloradans often leaves no room for indulging in junk food. But The Dough Bar, with an idea for healthy high-protein doughnuts that landed them $300,000 on Shark Tank, is giving consumers the best of both worlds as it opens its first two physical stores. However, the company’s journey from Shark Tank to opening its first brick-and-mortar stores in Colorado has been anything but easy.

The co-founders of The Dough Bar, Marquez and Ondrea Fernandez, started the company in 2015 with the vision of a doughnut that could be enjoyed daily without all the added fat, oil and sugar of a normal doughnut, Ondrea says. After taking the idea on Shark Tank, the couple won a $300,000 investment from Barbara Corcoran, who took a 20% stake in the company.

In 2018, the pair began the process of moving the business from the San Francisco Bay Area to Northern Colorado. However, when the costs of renovating a facility in Fort Collins set the business back financially, The Dough Bar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2019.

Since then, the pair has been rebuilding. “You never know how the cookie will crumble (or doughnut in this case) and sometimes you have to pick yourself up, dust off and fight for what you love. That’s what we’ve been doing,” Ondrea says. “We’ve been working our butts off, cutting costs where we can, expanding our product line to meet our customers demands and strategizing daily on how to best run our business.”

Part of this expansion and work includes two new retail locations for The Dough Bar — a flagship store in Fort Collins, which temporarily closed in the fall, and a new location at Backyard on Blake in the RiNo Arts District — under the name The Doughnut Club. While COVID-19 delayed the planned initial opening for the RiNo store, the business had its grand opening, for both locations, in early June.

“We debated whether or not to open at all,” Ondrea says. “We want to meet the needs of the community and be sensitive to what’s happening in our world. At the end of the day, this isn’t about business to us. It’s about the underlying desire to give folks something to smile about during hard times. It might be a lofty concept, but we believe that something as simple as sharing a doughnut like you’ve never seen can foster a stronger community.”

The two locations will offer The Dough Bar’s signature protein doughnuts (in all the fun flavors you’d want), cinnamon and chocolate rolls, monkey bread, gluten free whoopie pie and cake doughnuts, and more.

Categories: Companies, Company Perspectives