By Brenlee Coates
Brett Zahari has a little advice for anyone who wants to start a business: “Start small; don’t try to dive into it – and don’t have a baby at the same time,” he jokes.
In the best way possible, his new baby, Emelyn Zahari, affects everyone in his business.
Bronuts, the new doughnut shop that has taken the Exchange District and all of Winnipeg by storm, is already steeped in family tradition.
Obviously, the name gives two of the members away – yes, the owners Brett and Dylan Zahari are brothers – but Brett’s wife, Meghan Zahari, is also a part-owner.
“All the way along, our (whole) family helped us,” says Brett. “Between my dad and ourselves, we did all the construction.”
The hole idea
What started as a joke – “It was actually my girlfriend who proposed the name ‘Bronuts,’ and we just thought it was hilarious,” says Dylan – turned into a really viable business once all the pieces came together.
Brett and Meghan took a vacation to Portland, and without intending on it, studied a bunch of doughnut shops. They came back convinced they had to bring the concept to Winnipeg.
“We knew that Winnipeg would do well with them and really wanted them,” says Dylan.
So, Dylan, with only a computer science background, went to work learning to bake some really tasty doughnuts. “Need-based learning,” laughs Brett.
When they shared their idea with friends and family in Winnipeg, they discovered people were not only jazzed to frequent the place, but were willing to pitch in however they could to help make it happen.
“The amount of people that helped us build the dream…People like Joelle (Foster, of Futurpreneur), or people like our banker, or our real estate agent felt like our mom,” says Brett.
Love thy neighbour
The Zaharis already feel right at home in the Exchange District, especially thanks to their neighbouring tenant, King + Bannatyne. “Mike (Del Buono) has been the best neighbour ever,” says Brett, of the sandwich shop owner next door.
He recounts the story of his daughter’s birth, and although not many outside his family knew where he was, he was notified someone had sent an Edible Arrangement. It was Mike.
There is still a space next to King + Bannatyne and Bronuts up for grabs, and the Zaharis say their landlord is very protective of who joins them. “She wants to make sure it complements us,” says Brett.
Worth the wait
Though most people’s experience of Bronuts in the first couple weeks of it opening was either braving a lineup to get their hands on some of the illustrious pastries, or hearing doughnuts were sold out, the shop is finally starting to see things taper off.
“I think some of the hype has subsided-ish,” says Brett. “And I think hype is different than a customer base.”
One of Brett’s least favourite parts about the start of the business was telling a lineup of people who had been waiting that the doughnuts were all sold out.
The only thing that consoled him was that many who got a taste of their goods took to social media to say the wait was worth it.
“We’ve talked to doughnut shops we really respect, and we’re feeling really good about the number (we make). That’s the number that they’re usually hitting,” says Brett.
While they are taking measures to make more doughnuts and fine-tune their process, the idea is these aren’t just any doughnuts – they are special, and take time to make with care.
That said, Bronuts isn’t reinventing the wheel. Familiar tastes like peanut butter and chocolate, Nutella, sugar doughnuts and glazed inhabit the menu – but you can taste the efforts put in to making the glazes buttery smooth, and the pastries mega-fresh.
They offer accessible doughnuts done well to be sure they’re appeasing Joe Blow as well as the pastry connoisseurs.
“Our doughnuts need to be simple and approachable, and then we can build on that,” says Brett.
Visit Bronuts at 3-100 King St. in the Exchange.