The path from home-based business to retail was paved with deliciousness for this Boise couple.
While most people are settling into bed each night, Angel and Kevin Moran are headed into work to start making dough and frying and frosting donuts before the world wakes up.
The two are co-owners of Guru Donuts, a business that has blossomed over the past two years from the couple’s home to its new retail spot shared with Boise Fry Co. in downtown Boise. Every morning, dozens of donuts are laid out across the display case, but they don’t meet the typical definition of the baked good. On any given day, donut varieties range from berry flavors to Girl Scout cookie style, Butterfinger pieces to Boston cream. Some are given fun pop culture names, like the whiskey-glazed Don Draper, and the Mexican chocolate Frida Kahlo.
With so many flavors and house-made sauces, it would be logical to assume the two have a background in baking, but that assumption would be incorrect. Both do have experience in the service industry and Angel Moran has experience in marketing. Kevin Moran is the music director at Radio Boise. Neither knew the baking world — they just knew Boise had a need for this type of shop.
“We realized we hadn’t eaten a really good donut in Boise,” Angel Moran said. “We thought, ‘God, Boise would be such a great place for a gourmet shop.’”
A neighbor knew how to make donuts, and helped show them the ropes two years ago. The two started selling at flea markets and out of their home, and demand quickly built for the treats.
“There was one day we sold 780 donuts in an hour and a half,” she said.
At that point, Angel said they decided to expand into the Boise Farmers Market and the Boise Co-Op. They held “pop-up shop” sales whenever possible, sold donuts in bulk and to coffee shops around town, and word continued to spread about the product. All of it was leading them to the store open now on Capitol Boulevard.
“It gave us practice, like playing house, of how we would do it.”
Much of Guru’s style is modeled after Voodoo Donuts in Portland, Oregon. The Morans enjoyed the culture and feel of Voodoo and wanted to bring it to Boise. The name “Guru” came from the idea that every person can teach another something in life, and the idea of elevating society’s idea of what a donut is. It also helped that it rhymed with “Voodoo,” Moran joked, and it has worked well as a marketing tool.
One of the most important tenets of the business for the Morans is a commitment to natural ingredients and sustainability. When Boise Fry Co. approached Guru about sharing a store space, one of the reasons it made sense is because both have similar business philosophies, Angel Moran said. The two companies recycle their oil and use composting, and Guru offers vegan donut options and makes all of its ingredients and sauces from scratch. Much of it is also locally sourced — including Dream Chocolate from Boise and coffee from Hailey.
“We always wanted to do as much of that as possible,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be local, we just want it to be quality. If we can find it as close to home as possible, then we start there.”
As a result, donuts are a little bit more pricey at Guru than the ones a consumer finds at a grocery store, but it’s also because Guru’s products have a short shelf life.
Though the Morans want to keep honing their craft and doing it well, they are looking ahead to new spaces that could be filled. Angel said they hope to start a “late night” operation that would be paired with Boise Fry Co. to have donuts and beer. Customers could come to Guru late into the night for a snack and a good beer pairing, she said. They are also experimenting with donut burgers.
At the end of a 14- to 20-hour work day, Angel said it is more about the people and Boise than anything else, and she looks forward to the future.
“We really have just begun.”
Note: For hours and location information, visit Guru’s website.
Photography by Nick Groff