In neon-yellow bakery cases, doughnuts dressed in a variety of toppings glisten, waiting to be plucked out of the case and placed in a bright pink box by a barista. Clad in a polka-dotted shirt dress and sporting a severe undercut, she’s a tattooed, modern-day Bettie Page.
Glam Doll Donuts pulls off an aesthetic that is part punk rock, part ’50s pinup. The captains of this well-oiled, pastry-production machine, Arwyn Birch and Teresa Fox, steer at the helm with lipstick smiles and sleek pin curls.
After catching an Aesop Rock show in Portland, Ore., while on vacation two years ago, Fox and Birch made a late-night stop at Voodoo Doughnut and immediately fell for the funky shop.
“We waited in a line around the block at 1:30 in the morning for a donut — but it wasn’t just the donut. It was the concept,” Birch said.
The duo drove from Portland to Seattle and talked the entire way about the doughnut hole they saw in the Twin Cities, and how they planned to fill it. Returning from their trip, they began the process of building their own doughnut dynasty in Minneapolis.
Friends since childhood, the pair decided to take the kitsch that makes Voodoo tick — trippy and dark — and turn it on its head to be flirty and feminine.
Fox worked for months with her family to perfect many of the wacky recipes that grace the menu.
“My grandma always made doughnuts, so when we decided to open up the doughnut shop it was just natural to be like ‘OK granny, let’s whip out the recipes,’”**** she said.
A classic doughnut, pillow soft on the inside with crisp edges, provide the base for the “Showgirl” a maple-iced, bacon-topped long john and the “Chart Topper” a sweet Sriracha and peanut concoction. These favorites are just two of the standouts on a menu that features light crullers, savory filled doughnuts and dense, sugary fritters, plus tamer choices.
Obsessed with everything vintage, Birch recalls going to Tatters Alternative Clothing for the first time at age 15 with Fox and falling in love with the look.
Trained as a fashion designer, Birch molded their bland, empty Eat Street space into a plush pad fit for any beauty school dropout.
A small black awning with the shop’s name doesn’t drop much of a hint to the retro wonderland inside. Antique issues of Cosmopolitan, spread out on hand-painted tables and accompanied by a powder-pink ceiling and psychedelic, tiled floors, give the space the vibe of a grown-up Candyland.
After scouring the city for a space for more than a year, Fox and Birch were growing desperate in their search. When they found the space on Nicollet and 26th, it fit like a glove.
“We came in and those bakery cases were still here from the bakery that got closed down before,” Birch said.
Decorating came easily, as did the front-of-the-house aspects of service.
“We were waitresses forever — this is our ticket out of that,” Fox said.
Diving head first into owning a business wasn’t without its struggles.
“You think you come up with these awesome financial projections, and then the bank is like ‘Yeah, you’re never going to sell that many donuts,’”**** Fox said.
Bank estimates aside, in the second week of business, the Glam Doll doughnut frenzy is booming. Morning commuters and bar flies alike stream through the shop at all hours to pick up a pastry.
Constantly dividing tasks at the bakery, Birch and Fox had no doubts that their 22-year friendship could withstand the test of business ownership.
“Any slack is automatically picked up. I’m teetering on the edge [then] we’ll balance back out. Then she’ll take her turn,” Birch said of Fox.
After a vastly successful first week in business, the worries of demand, production and the everyday trials of running a restaurant have subsided. Now the duo just has to figure out how to keep its elegant vintage wardrobe clean.
“We’re considering dipping all of our dresses in the fryer,” Birch said, laughing.
“Then all the stains will go away,” Fox said.
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