Business Person of the Month: Jeff Herman of Tiger Deaux-Nuts

Tiger Deaux-Nuts

Owner, Jeff Herman

5162 Government Street

225-421-1091

“Fry it and they will come”

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td2Jeff Herman is out to make Baton Rouge a better city, a half-dozen gourmet Deaux-nuts at a time.

“If you ever want to start a business, don’t think how hard can it be, just think it’s going to be the hardest thing you ever do in your life,” Jeff advises.

Jeff graduated from LSU with a degree in management and a concentration in entrepreneurship and small business.  His plan was to start and build small businesses as his career.  Jeff says, “I used my business classes to write a business plan and a start up plan.  I got a working capital loan, used my savings, and had some help from my parents.  It took me five months, and a significant investment before I could make my first doughnut.  This is the definition of insanity.”

The donut shop idea came to Jeff one Sunday morning.  He wanted a donut and the nearest available shop was Mary Lee donuts with standard donut fare.  Jeff realized Baton Rouge lacked a quality specialty donut shop and there were no donut shops near campus.   He had found his idea, a campus-area shop featuring gourmet donuts.  Jeff says, “This was a needed business venture I could execute on reasonable investment.   ‘How hard could it be to build a better doughnut shop?’ ” He found out.

When Jeff began the process of turning an idea into a business, he found it is a long and expensive process.  He turned to current innovative donut shops for ideas and inspiration, such as Voodoo donuts in Portland Oregon.   “They were innovative, but not culinary unique.  Voodoo is not just a donut shop; they made donuts fun and interesting.  They gave the donuts names and decorated them to be remembered; you remember which donut you ordered there,” Jeff says.

They created a brand, something Jeff wanted to do in Baton Rouge.  You would go out for “the donut” not just a donut.  Jeff wanted to go for quality, not convenience.  He wanted to put thought and creativity into his product. The experience should be fun and ‘rememberable’.  I want everyone who takes a bite of my doughnuts to say ‘wow,’ to think about what they’re eating. That’s what any good food should be.  You remember the name of the store and the product and want to go back.”

“When I set out to start Tiger Deaux-nuts, my dream wasn’t to wake up at 3 o’clock every morning to make donuts; my dream was to build businesses.”  Jeff opened his Tiger Deaux-nut shop in 2012 on Jones Creek road.  He was only open on Saturday and would sell out of donuts by 9 or 10 o’clock.  His plan was to open full time after building a customer base, and developing a product they wanted.   Jeff managed to bootstrap his startup Tiger Deaux-nuts into a thriving, yet almost secret, grassroots business.

The Deaux-nut flavors include bacon-maple, key lime pie, peanut butter and chocolate, bananas foster, apple pie, mint chocolate chip, vanilla jalapeño, s’mores and red velvet cake donuts. Some seasonal flavors are pumpkin spice, orange cranberry pecan and white chocolate peppermint.

“I was not reinventing anything, not creating a new product; I was taking something that’s outdated and putting some effort, and thought, and creativity into it. Consumers want lagniappe, they want something extra, and they’re willing to pay for it too,’’ Jeff says.

Jeff always had the idea to have his shop in Baton Rouge areas where people are forward thinking, and people in the neighborhood match what he was thinking, yet they geographically lack a donut shop.  In January, 2015, Jeff realized his long-term goal to move closer to his customers.  He moved his operation to 5162 Government Street in Mid-City.  He is now located in the building formerly known as Phil’s Oyster Bar.  He is open from 6:00 AM to noon Tuesday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday and closed on Monday.  Now he has space where he can brew coffee to pair with his Deaux-nuts.   The relocation also allows him to have an expanded breakfast menu, space for customers to “eat in”, and the possibility to expand his hours and his menu.  Jeff wanted to add something to bring people in without compromising the product he already has.  He created a breakfast sandwich; it comes with boudin, bacon or sausage, egg and cheddar cheese on a fried crispy Deaux-nut bun. The boudin is made in house.  Jeff says, “We are probably the only donut shop that makes its own boudin.   It has been very well received by our customers.  We could brand our business with it.  ”

Jeff has learned the demand for donuts falls as you get closer to lunch.  For lunch people want protein and sides so it is not financially feasible to be open all day.  He wants to continue to build the business and learn what he can offer on the menu to bring people in all day.

Jeff says, “My business is better since I stopped being the baker.  It’s really taking off.  I knew that it would; Baton Rouge is a culinary town.  I have the greatest staff in the city, two full-time staff and one part-time.  One is a pastry chef and the other has over a decade in top restaurants. We are a great team, we work well together, and our strengths complement each other.”

When asked about starting his business, Jeff says, “You always need a plan in place in the back of your mind, I need to know where I want to be; what I knew five years ago changes.  Some of it is learning as I go, growing up as I go, what is realistically important to me now may not have been when I started.  I’m changing my plan as I go. I am taking opportunities as they come.  Tiger Deaux-nuts has grown into something that does not fit the plan I originally had.”

When asked for advice on starting a business, he compares it to running a mile.  “Starting a business is like running a mile; it is not what you envision.  You drive a mile and say, I can do this, you envision it in your head and then you start running.  You take a few steps and say ‘This is easy’, then you get into it and it becomes hard, you become fatigued; the reality of running is not what you expected.  Do I have the motivation to finish?  Some people trip and never finish the race; you must adapt and keep running the mile.  The ones who start a business and make it work are those who push through and finish.  You can’t plan for everything when you build a small business.’’

Jeff is a member of the Baton Rouge area chamber, but is currently not very active.  He is still learning how to balance running the business and doing other things.  He has found there are a lot of things that need to be done for the business when it is not open.

When asked about the future of Baton Rouge, Jeff says “I started my business here; I stayed after graduation from LSU because I believe Baton Rouge has a future.  What I have seen as progress and growth in the city since I have been here is pretty unbelievable.  I can be an example of someone who wanted to stay.   As long as the city provides the fundamentals, Baton Rouge can grow and become a first class city.  The vision for the city will match what is happening, there is a lot of work ahead of us, and this is a very exciting time for Baton Rouge.”

On libraries, Jeff says, “Baton Rouge has one of the world class library systems in the world.  For Baton Rouge to grow and progress as a city, these resources are very important.  We need to catch up to other cities and surpass them.  It is fun to come to a library like this.  I came as a child but not so much as I got older.”

“The library system gives a community an opportunity to grow and move forward.  It is a place to meet people and is a great community center.  I am excited that the library continues to grow and has plans for a new facility downtown.  The library continues to plan for the future, for the new trends, digital books, computers, 3D technology and who knows what else is in the future.”

Jeff says, “I went straight from graduating to running and building a business.  Taking a full time job out of school would have been selling myself short and I might have become too comfortable to move on.  I am happy with where I am now; I enjoy what I am doing.”

Jeff tells us the Maple Bacon King cake will be back on Jan 2, 2016.  He recommends you place your order early because they sell out fast!

Business person of the month: City Gelato Mario Lozanov

Written by Anne Lemmon

 

City Gelato

Mobile stands are available for company events, birthday parties, wedding receptions, etc.  Call 225-819-7007 for details and prices.
Mobile stands are available for company events, birthday parties, wedding receptions, etc.  Call 225-819-7007 for details and prices.

Owner, Manager, Creator: Mario Lozanov

225-819-7007

City Gelato on Facebook

 

“Do what you love and the money will follow,” is Mario Lozanov’s motto.  He is putting this adage to the test with the creation and marketing of his gelato under the name City Gelato.  His long term goal is to go national and have City Gelato in stores across the United States.

 

Mario, an organic chemist turned culinary businessman, currently sells his gelato from three mobile stands and in local stores.  He opened his mobile gelato carts in the summer of 2014, appearing at festivals and parks around East Baton Rouge Parish.  City Gelato is now currently available at Calandro’s and Calvin’s grocery stores, Anthony’s Deli and Maxwell’s Market with more stores scheduled for distribution.

 

One of the mobile stands is currently open for business at the Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd, Monday through Friday 11:00-8:00, Saturday 1:00-6:00 and Sunday 2:00-8:00.

Mario came to the United States from Bulgaria in 1996 to pursue his Doctoral degree in organic chemistry.  He chose Wayne State University in Detroit to study for his doctorate.  He says, “I received an offer to study chemistry at LSU.  I turned them down; I did not want to live in the south because it was so hot there.  Now, ten years later here I am, it is fate.”

 

Mario moved to Baton Rouge in 2004 to join Albemarle as an organic chemist.   After moving to Baton Rouge, he became interested in gelato through his friendship with the founder and co-owner of Bacio di Roma Italian Café on Chimes street.  When the Café closed, Mario considered buying it but realized that it would have involved a substantial time commitment and that the overhead was too high as well.

Look for these containers in local stores.
Look for these containers in local stores.

When Mario was downsized from Albemarle in 2012, he reconsidered opening a gelato shop of his own.  Finding a space and renovating it for food production would have been too costly; so in 2013, he applied to the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator to assist in developing his gelato for the market.  His plan was to start slow with the mobile carts, then go wholesale in stores.  He has met each of these goals.

 

To develop the process and make the gelato, he needed access to a commercial kitchen.  Mario began working in the commercial kitchen at the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator in December, 2013; the AgCenter leases time and space to small food businesses and provides assistance in taking a product from an idea to the creation of a commercial food.   The food scientists provide the expertise in perfecting the product and the business people help in completing the paperwork and permits needed to become a legal culinary business.

 

When he started selling his own creation, City Gelato, Mario was located at Red Stick Farmers Market in downtown Baton Rouge. He had been going to the market since he moved here 11 years ago, shopping and enjoying the booths.  He considers the market a home to him and his product and purchases locally grown fruits and ingredients from the market, when possible, for his gelato.  Currently, one of his three stands can be found at the Main Library on Goodwood.

 

Although gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, Gelato can be made with milk, cream, various sugars, fresh fruit, vegetables, etc.  It is generally lower in calories, fat and sugar than ice cream, (lower not free).  Mario began experimenting with various flavors and developing new ones.  He has the traditional flavors, such as chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, and plans to add birthday cake as a staple.  He is developing other local flavors, such as sweet potato and a purple and gold LSU flavor with blueberries and mango.City_Gelato3

 

 

When asked about his change in career direction, Mario says, “The first four or five years working for a corporation were great, and then it seemed to stalemate.  There were no challenges; it was no longer fun.  I started thinking of operating a food truck; I looked into bringing lobster from Maine to sell here.”

 

“Business is interesting to me; I never saw the other side of working.  As a scientist, I had a nine to five office job and never saw the other side that goes into running the business and selling the product.  I feel I was meant to do something everyone cannot do.  It is good to have a choice and be in charge of your own destiny,” Mario says.

 

Mario approaches the food market as a chemist, creating new flavors using the structure of the molecule, looking for a taste bridge between the main ingredient in his gelato, such as fruit, etc. and secondary flavors such as cinnamon or chocolate.

 

When I create a new flavor, I go through a process; I study things, what goes well together.   People request a flavor and I try to see if it is possible, I look into making it.  You need a molecular bridge between the fruit and spices; you can pair unusual items if you know the molecular structure of each.

 

Selling frozen treats from his three carts is hard work for Lozanov and his team of college students, especially during the fall and spring festival seasons.

“I like selling the gelato from the mobile stands, having the direct contact with people.  I see people stopping for a cup, it is a stress reliever, and they stop a minute from their busy schedule and relax.”

“It’s not rocket science …,” Mario said, “I just want to have a better impact on quality of life.”

 

Food for Fines Totals

In the month of December, we ran the Food for Fines program at all of our library branches, where for each item of food donated to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, a dollar was deducted from the patron’s library fines. Thanks to everyone who participated.

The grand total from this year’s Food for Fines food drive is 18,114 pounds, which is equivalent to 15,095 meals! Below is the breakdown per branch:

· Baker: 1,416 pounds

· Bluebonnet: 1,776 pounds

· Carver: 572 pounds

· Central: 1,104 pounds

· Delmont Gardens: 1,123 pounds

· Eden Park: 987 pounds

· Fairwood: 488 pounds

· Greenwell Springs: 1,112 pounds

· Jones Creek: 1,798 pounds

· Main Library: 3,306 pounds

· Pride-Chaneyville: 626 pounds

· River Center: 183 pounds

· Scotlandville: 1,368 pounds

· Zachary: 2,255 pounds

Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank

We Geek Food Week!

We geek Food Week! Baton Rouge Food Week is October 18-26, and includes Food Day, a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainable food held annually on October 24.

This year, HealthyBR has organized a week-long schedule of events that spotlight the exciting food work being done right here in Baton Rouge! Some of those events include a Healthy Cooking demonstration with Chef Eric Arceneaux, fundraising initiatives featuring local celebrity chefs, a film screening and panel discussion, and even an appearance of the library’s Bookmobile!

For more information and a complete list of events, visit www.HealthyBR.com, or call (225) 205-4124. Information can also be found on our Food InfoGuide

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Your Favorite Magazines on Zinio

If you haven’t tried Zinio yet, you’re missing out. With just your library card, you can access the latest digital issues of your favorite magazines for free. There are hundreds of magazines to choose from and no limit to how many you can download.

You can read them directly on your computer, or you can download them for offline reading on your smartphone or tablet. They look fantastic! To find out more information about using Zinio, take a look at our Zinio Guide.

Head over to the library’s Zinio catalog and see the collection.  You can either search for a specific title or browse magazines by genre. Magazines you can read include Consumer Reports, Cosmopolitan, ESPN The Magazine, Food Network magazine, Maxim, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and hundreds more! Go and take a look and I guarantee there will be something that interests you!

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Red Stick Farmers Market Goes Mobile

The Red Stick Farmers market offers the healthiest, freshest, local produce, and it’s now going mobile! Every Wednesday morning from 9:00am to 11:00am it will be at the Scotlandville Branch Library, 7373 Scenic Hwy. On Wednesday afternoons, the mobile market will be at Star Hill Baptist Church, 1400 North Foster Drive, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.

You can still catch the regular markets on Thursdays at 6400 Perkins Rd (Behind Pennington @ Kenilworth) from 8:00am to noon, and Saturdays, 5th and Main Streets Downtown 8:00am to noon. Check out Fresh Beginnings from HealthyBR.com and the Red Stick Farmers Market website for more information. Give your taste buds a treat!

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Take The Bon’App Survey and Win!

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library is partnering with Bon’App in an effort to help learn how to make healthier food choices. Everyone is encouraged to sign up for this free, healthy eating program. Those who register will be asked to complete a short survey, and use Bon’App each day for the next few months. Participants will receive weekly nutrition newsletters, and have the chance to win great prizes, including a tablet PC!

Click here to take the quick survey, sign up and have a chance to win big!  

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You can track your food using the Bon’App website or by downloading the app for Apple or Android devices:

Get the free app for Apple devices from the iTunes Store

Get the free app for Android devices from the Google play Store