Move over Shipley's and Dunkin, there's a new donut in town and this one comes with blue chip credentials starting with the name — River Oaks Donuts.
So what's a 77019 family to do when the nearest donut and kolache shops are miles from home? If you are billionaires Mindy and Jeff Hildebrand, you open your own shop in the 'hood, the 'hood being River Oaks.
"I felt like I wanted to provide the neighborhood with donuts," Mindy explained on Thursday, the first day of business. "It's as simple as that. There was a need so we are providing a service."
"I felt like I wanted to provide the neighborhood with donuts."
A need, indeed. Store director Scott Niemeyer estimated that the shop, located on Westheimer on the edge of River Oaks, would sell 90 dozen donuts on its first day and that includes both counter service and the handy drive-thru window. (In addition to donut testing, Niemeyer manages the concessions operation at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center, which the Hildebrands also own.)
The Hildebrand family, including their 15- and 17-year-old sons (reason enough for the donut interest according to Mindy), spent three months sampling Niemeyer's evolving donut recipe with multiple blind tastings. Jeff had declared that they weren't going to enter the business unless "we have the best donuts in town." Shipley's and Dunkin were the standard to be surpassed. All of River Oaks Donuts' creations are handmade.
Explaining the business move via email earlier in the day, Mindy wrote, "We needed the right location on Westheimer, due to visibility, close proximity to many churches, schools, neighborhoods and businesses that needed donuts!
"We were able to take advantage of the down market and buy the strip center with income-generating tenants, so the whole package is a long term investment. We put on a new roof, reconfigured the drive-through and improved the landscape."
And then there's that River Oaks touch. Silk stocking architects Curtis & Windham designed the shop. Advertising Hall of Famer Chuck Carlberg assisted with the whimsical logo. The coffee beans are from Java Pura Coffee Roasters. And in River Oaks tradition, customers can set up personal charge accounts — as Mindy explained in the style of the old Jamail's.
The tempting offerings include glazed, iced and cake donuts, kolaches, apple fritters, cinnamon rolls and long johns. There is even a "River Oaks" donut, iced in minty green and topped with pastel-colored sprinkles. (They sold out by lunch time on the first day.) That's just the start of the colorful possibilities. Icings come in pink, red, white, just about any color and designs of your choice to match school colors. They've already created special orders for Kinkaid, neighboring St. John's and the University of Texas.
Despite the River Oaks influences, the offerings are competitively priced with a dozen glazed donuts costing $7.99, iced donuts $8.99 and filled donut holes (really) $2.49 a dozen.