Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Innovative Business Not So Golden After All

Lately, the owner of Sugar Rush Golden Doughnuts is feeling like there's a big hole right in the middle of his business plan. Last year, when the 24-hour doughnut outlet first opened near Park Street, owner Karl Ebbs thought he'd found just the right niche. After all, where else can you get a doughnut at 3 a.m. around Park Street?

"I expected to have a fairly steady stream of customers, perhaps easing slightly during the hours when most people tend to be sleeping," Ebbs explained, shaking his head resignedly. "It's amazing how few people seem to want doughnuts in the afternoon and evening, though. Sometimes I sit all night just watching the crullers and the raised and the cakes sitting in their cases, unpurchased. I'm really starting to wish that I'd hired an employee or two so that I could sleep once in a while."

Because the 24-hour plan doesn't seem to be working out very well, Mr. Ebbs is asking the City to allow him to reduce his hours, perhaps focusing more on the morning than the evening. So far, however, the City seems to be reluctant to allow the change. Rumor has it that certain City officials and staff have grown accustomed to being able to make a doughnut run on those occasions when meetings stretch through the night and into breakfast time.

As a protest against the City's apparent lack of sympathy, Mr. Ebbs has started spray-painting his doughnuts silver. While watching Mr. Ebbs ply his spray can across a tray of chocolate glazed goodies, the Alameda Daily Noose and I noticed a customer trying to find some doughnuts whose colored sprinkles had not yet been intermingled with flecks of silver paint. She seemed a bit put off by the act of protest, even after Mr. Ebbs carefully explained its purpose to her. As she left, she pointed out that Mr. Ebbs might want to post his hours somewhere in the store if he wanted people to know they could expect to get doughnuts there 'round the clock.

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