Nova Scotia

New made-to-order doughnut shop in Halifax a family affair

Jagger's Cafe is set to open this week — a joint venture between a son and a couple who put retirement on hold to pursue a newfound passion: made-to-order doughnuts

'You have to be ready to talk about business at turkey dinner,' says Jagger Winterbourne

Family members Helen Allen, left, Graham Winterbourne, middle, and Jagger Winterbourne joined forces one year ago to open a new made-to-order doughnut shop in Halifax. (Aly Thomson/CBC)

Immersed in the aroma of frying dough, Jagger Winterbourne looks over to his father as he attempts to recall this month's featured flavours being served up at a unique doughnut shop in Halifax.

The 22-year-old man is still learning the ropes of running a business, and his dad Graham Winterbourne and his partner Helen Allen are with him every step of the way.

Jagger's Cafe and Donut Bar is set to open this week — a joint venture between a son and a couple who put retirement on hold to pursue a newfound passion: made-to-order doughnuts.

"It's been a journey — most of it good," said Graham Winterbourne, who co-owns the business with Allen while training Jagger Winterbourne as a manager, in the hopes he'll one day become another proprietor.

An employee of Jagger's Cafe and Donut Bar prepares a box of assorted doughnuts. (Aly Thomson/CBC)

Allen said Jagger's Cafe isn't like the other doughnut shops in Halifax, or in Atlantic Canada, for that matter. Here, you get to customize your doughnut and the sweet treat is served up warm, having been freshly fried moments before.

"We have a total of 450 combinations — or more than that even if you took all of the different options and put them together in different ways," said Allen, as an employee decorated a doughnut with hot fudge, Reese's Pieces and strawberry glaze.

Customers of Jagger's Cafe will fill out this form when they come into the shop, choosing from an array of icings, toppings and glazes. (Submitted by Helen Allen)

It all started about a year ago, when Allen and her partner were enjoying their retirement, travelling on Anna Maria Island off Florida's Gulf Coast. They visited a café that decorated doughnuts before your eyes.

"There were a whole lot of people of all ages and everybody was just really enjoying themselves," said Allen, who worked in the telecommunications industry for 30 years.

"We thought, this is something that we don't have back in Nova Scotia, so maybe this is something we could create here in our own way."

The couple decided to go for it, and got Jagger Winterbourne involved as well. He had decided that finishing a university business degree was no longer a path he wanted to pursue.

Graham Winterbourne acknowledged the family members-turned-business partners were not without their differences as they navigated the colossal task of opening a new small business.

"We had a few moments where we didn't agree on certain things," said Graham Winterbourne, who owned two waste management companies before retirement.

Graham Winterbourne said made-to-order doughnuts are unique in Atlantic Canada. (Aly Thomson/CBC)

"I'm sure that's always going to happen and it's actually a good thing. That's what builds a business and we turn it all into productive conversation."

Jagger Winterbourne added that opening a business with family isn't for everyone.

"You have to be ready to talk about business at turkey dinner," he said with a laugh.

The inspiration for the café came from a similar operation in Florida. (Aly Thomson/CBC)

The doughnuts are made on a special machine — reminiscent of a conveyor belt — that plops cylinders of dough into oil and flips them halfway through. They eventually land in shallow bowl before being scooped up for decorating.

Along with made-to-order doughnuts, Jagger's Cafe will offer some ready-made doughnuts, breakfast sandwiches, soups, sandwiches, speciality coffee drinks, frappés and smoothies.

A featured menu item is the café's doughnut breakfast sandwich: egg, bacon or sausage and cheese sandwiched between a sliced fresh doughnut, topped with maple glaze and bacon bits.

Topping options include bacon, Reese's Pieces, M&M's, coconut, Oreo, peanuts, sea salt and cinnamon sugar. (Aly Thomson/CBC)

Graham Winterbourne said they designed the café in the hopes they'll be able to one incorporate a drive-thru and eventually franchise the business.

Jagger Winterborune said he has mixed feelings about the business being a namesake.

"Originally, I wasn't too keen on my name going up on the building," he said. "But eventually I gave in. I guess I'm in it for the long haul now."