If you’ve had the pleasure of catching the Doshier’s Donuts food truck, you know what a treat it is. If you haven’t, well, what are you waiting for?
Doshier’s Donuts is the delicious new food truck making its way around much of Central Virginia, filling a void left by the closure of Spudnuts in Charlottesville.
Shawn and Kelly Doshier started their business as a delivery service early in 2020.
“It took about two and a half years of doing delivery service to be able to have the trailer production done, health department [criteria handled], all those good things, and actually get on the road,” Shawn said. “We’ve been in the trailer for around three months now—open since October 20 of last year.”
Valued as they are by Louisa residents, Doshier’s Donuts also travels to surrounding localities.
“We typically stay in the Louisa/Palmyra area because we’re locals of Mineral,” Shawn said. “We do go to Charlottesville; people can catch us at Aqua-Clean Pool Services. Up towards Ruckersville, where Ryan Homes is, down to southern Albemarle County—the North Garden area—and out in Crozet as well. We’re trying to hit every county we can and get as much exposure [as possible].”
Formerly Charlottesville residents, the Doshiers moved to Mineral about four years ago in search of more bang for their buck. Shawn’s mom was born in Bumpass, and he visited the area fairly frequently throughout childhood to see his grandparents. Shawn and Kelly both like the quiet, along with the friendly community they’ve found here.
Before moving, the couple worked at Bodo’s Bagels, a Charlottesville staple. Shawn was the kitchen manager and Kelly was an opener before they decided to embark upon the Doshier’s Donuts journey.
“I’ve always wanted to open a food truck,” Shawn said. “I sat down and brainstormed what the area had been missing. Spudnuts was in Charlottesville for over 50 years, it was one of my personal favorites, so we went ahead and started doing recipe development. We did a couple samples to the general public, and then we started the delivery service.”
While they do benefit from a preexisting Spudnuts fanbase, the Doshier’s recipe is slightly different. For instance, Spudnuts was a chain, and their recipe included cake flour and a blend of flour with the seasonings mixed in. The Doshiers make everything from scratch (no pre-bought blends), and they only use all-purpose and potato flour. Both recipes involve frying donuts in shortening, but Spudnuts used more.
“Very similar, not a huge taste difference, but you can tell,” Shawn said. “People have asked us if we have any relation to the Spudnuts company, anybody that owned it, or if we’re still affiliated. It’s very humbling to be asked—it’s pretty awesome—but we are not. We’re our own thing,” Kelly added.
While most food trucks have shut down for the season by now, Doshier’s Donuts is just getting started. However, the decision to remain operational through winter has come with its own set of challenges.
“The weather in Virginia [has been difficult]. All of our pipes burst [in the truck] right before Christmas,” Shawn said.
In addition to weather-related obstacles, the Doshiers have had to jump through the classic hoops of taxes and business licenses for the various locations where they set up shop, and they’ve had to adjust to working odd hours.
“A lot of people don’t realize we usually start our day anywhere from 12:30 to 2:30 in the morning. We open at 7am, and we might be closed by 12 or 12:30 some days, but it’s not like we’ve only been working for five hours that day. It’s an 18- to 20-hour process for the business,” Shawn said. “You have to drop your water tanks off, refill things, clean up, all kinds of different stuff. And we don’t have your traditional commissary; we do everything in the trailer—that brings obstacles as well.”
The Doshiers worked with the Central Virginia Small Business Development Center (CVSBDC) to get their truck up and running.
“We [worked with] Yolunda Harrell, and she was amazing; she used to own a food truck,” Shawn said. “She helped me write my business plan from scratch; I had no prior business experience before this. Any stage [of business] you’re in, [the CVSBDC] is willing to help—all you have to do is reach out. They’re truly a blessing.”
If you follow the Doshier’s Donuts Facebook page, you may have noticed that they frequently share posts from other local businesses. Supporting fellow small businesses has been an important part of this journey for Kelly and Shawn.
“We had people sharing our posts, and they started coming by and buying donuts. Mostly it’s other Louisa business owners, and they’re just really nice people, and we’ve learned that they’re all about supporting their own community and other small business owners,” Kelly said. “Being small business owners, we’ve learned how hard it is, and you have to stick together. We’re just trying to help anybody we can.”
The couple is planning to start using one of their truck’s windows to advertise the business cards of interested local businesses, an idea they credit to Country Boys BBQ, located on Main Street in Louisa.
“Any way we can help out, because we’ve seen the support from everyone else,” Shawn said. “Most food trucks have shut down by now, and [ours has] still been beneficial to us. It’s allowed us to live and continue to grow, so why not do the same thing for our neighbors?”
All of their hard work and community focus is certainly paying off, but how do the Doshiers measure their own success? Through kids’ reactions, of course!
“If the kids like them, that’s huge,” Kelly said. “Kids are brutally honest, and they’re usually pretty picky. I think that’s the biggest [indicator] for me; knowing that the kids wanna come back—that’s awesome.” Shawn agreed. “One that stuck out to me, [the child] has a disability and it’s very hard to get him to show emotion, and [his mom] showed me a picture of him eating a donut, just smiling from ear to ear,” Shawn said. “If you’re having a bad day and you see something like that, you’re like ‘This is worth it.’”
Aside from children’s reactions, the Doshiers mentioned receiving media attention in The Central Virginian and being invited to set up at events as additional markers of success; something that they’re committed to earning each day.
While they’re still working on developing a more permanent schedule, you can find Doshier’s Donuts at Piedmont Store in Crozet every Friday, and at the Mineral Farmer’s Market every other Saturday.
In the future, they also plan on opening a brick-and-mortar store (likely in Louisa or Palmyra), adding a couple of food trucks, selling homemade ice cream, and, of course, coffee.
“We’re working with Makin’ Smiles Coffee here in Louisa. They’ve been here for a year, so it’s another small business that we can kind of raise up, and hopefully they can do the same for us,” Shawn said. “This is all a stepping stone for different phases.”