A few years ago, Pinkbox Donuts could be described as a sophisticated unbranded mom-and-pop store, says owner Stephen Siegel, who bought the chain in 2018 with his wife, Judith.
The first order of business was to develop an identity, including enhanced images, slogans, donut cases, boxes, mugs, napkins and bags.
The results of their work came to life in September 2019, when the chain opened its third store in Las Vegas and the first under a new owner. The restaurant is covered in different shades of pink from top to bottom, with walls featuring drips of frosting, a donut-shaped table, and a neon sign that says, “Every day is a good day for a donut.” Customers are greeted by 75 to 80 varieties of colorful and quirky donut flavors.
âI think they are impressed when they walk into the store just because of the general appearance of the store, and I think they are overwhelmed with the donuts,â says Siegel. âI don’t think anyone’s been into something like this before. We call it the Willy Wonka of donuts. It’s like Disneyland on the inside. It’s also part of our brand, not just fun donuts, but the whole fun experience from the heart of the store.
In terms of operations, Pinkbox has gradually moved away from wholesaling in order to be able to focus entirely on serving fresh produce to retail customers. Then, in August, the company revealed that it had been named the official donut partner of the Las Vegas Raiders, which are housed in the new Allegiant Stadium. Pinkbox has a stand in the facility, giving the chain access to customers across the country, especially nearby markets full of growth opportunities.
There were two stores when Siegel acquired Pinkbox, but the company has since expanded to seven outlets, most of which are open 24 hours a day. Three units opened in 2021, a new record for the brand. In 2022, Pinkbox aims to open a minimum of seven to 10 stores in Las Vegas and new out-of-state markets in Utah, California and Arizona. The following year, Siegel expects 20 more locations.
All will be managed by the company, with the channel showing no interest in the franchise at this time.
âAt this point, our focus is on running our own stores, managing our own growth,â says Siegel. âI’m not going to rule it out in the future, but it’s not part of our short-term or short-term plan. Every day we are asked to franchise or open in someone’s city or state.
This year’s growth includes the brand’s first drive-thru, which opened in April. Siegel says the biggest learning is how much Pinkbox’s experiential interior is lost when customers receive orders through drive-thru. The chain also sells more coffee through the channel than donuts, and that’s not the approach Pinkbox is looking for, says Siegel. While he cannot reveal any plans yet, the owner says the brand is working on ways to improve the drive-thru experience while encouraging people to enter stores so they can appreciate the vast showcase of donuts.
The biggest advantage, arguably, is that the store also serves as a commissary for units that do not cook on the spot. This is the same model that Krispy Kreme has implemented in recent years, in which donuts are prepared fresh every day in production centers and transported to multiple shelves or access points.
Going forward, Siegel says Pinkbox will move more towards this approach, with smaller stores that are more focused on retail.
âI think the one thing you get more than anything is more quality control and more oversight in one place than we do in multiple locations,â Siegel said. âWe are able to operate a little more strictly to monitor what is being done in the commissary rather than having several stores doing the same thing. It’s just harder to manage and monitor for quality and efficiency and that sort of thing. I think going under one roof with all of this makes it more effective just for aggregate purposes. “