Pandemic Donuts opens new bakery in Denver — and business is sweet

Owners started the business after they lost jobs
Posted at 12:48 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 10:51:28-05

DENVER -- Gabe Henning and Michael Milton ran out of space in their home kitchen almost as soon as they started posting photos of their colorful donuts on Instagram.

The Denver couple started Pandemic Donuts during the early days of stay-at-home orders after they lost their jobs in the service industry. What started as an idea to pay rent would turn into a full-time business in a matter of weeks.

Denver7 profiled Henning and Milton back in April but a lot has changed since then. Instead of making donuts out of their home under Colorado's Cottage Foods Act, they now have their very own commercial bakery.

"In April, we had just started dreaming about getting a bakery open, never knew if it was going to happen, didn’t know if we were going to go back to work. And as our business kind of kept accelerating, it became more and more of a possibility that we were going to open a bakery," said Milton.

The new bakery is located inside Queen City Collective Coffee, located at 2962 Welton Street in Denver. The partnership with the coffee shop began months ago when they started selling Pandemic Donuts at their two Denver locations.

"Queen City reached out to us with an offer of taking over half of their space here and it was kind of a match made in heaven. We knew we wanted to do it right away," said Milton.

They started building out the space in late August and opened three weeks ago. A grand opening event is still in the works.

It's hard to believe that just one year ago the couple was working at a nearby coffee shop, unaware they were about to lose their jobs on March 17 when the world shutdown. Henning said she never would have imaged she would be running her own doughnut shop.

"Oh my God, I would not have believed them. I really didn’t think I could have this, you know, 'cause it’s something I always wanted, my own bakery," said Henning.

Henning is still the mastermind behind the rotating list of flavors that change on a daily basis. They now have six flavors to choose from, and she added a gulten-free doughnut to the mix.

The new kitchen is giving Henning more room to experiment and branch out beyond doughnuts. The bakery launched a breakfast sandwich last weekend and plans to add a full pastry line soon.

“Transitioning from the home kitchen to a commercial kitchen, we can now do wholesale. So, we can sell to other coffee shops, hotels, co-working spaces, things like that," said Milton. "It opens up all kinds of doors that were closed working out of a home kitchen out of the Cottage Foods Act."

If wholesale business takes off like they expect, Milton says they will soon be searching for a second bakery location.

"I think in the next 18 to 24 months we’d love to have a little bit bigger bakery so we can focus on more of our delivery and our wholesale side of the business," said Milton.

As Pandemic Donuts gets ready to celebrate one year in business, the couple says it's amazing to see how far they've come.

"I think about this all the time and I know how lucky we were," said Milton. "It says more about our customers and how they supported us than it does what we did but the truth is the community supported us so much that we were able to do it.”

You can find Pandemic Donuts at Queen City Collective Coffee or you can place an order online. The only thing better than fresh donuts, is a dozen donuts delivered to your doorstep. Delivery is still available Wednesday through Sunday.

"It’s amazing, I don’t know how it happened but yeah it’s awesome," said Henning."