Wake Forest Foodies: Dough-Joe’s
Doing Good with Good Doughnuts
What do you get when you combine a boy, a girl, and a food truck with a recipe for darned good freshly baked cake doughnuts? If you’re in Winston-Salem, it can only mean Dough-Joe’s.
“Our mission is to serve incredible doughnuts while giving back to this place that is so dear to us,” Eric Disch (’14, MA ’17) and his wife Anna Margaret Roth (’17) wrote on their website. “We take pride in using high quality ingredients, recognizing our customers, and donating a portion of our sales directly to organizations that work to make food more accessible in the Winston-Salem area.”
Disch and Roth met as undergraduates at Wake Forest University. Roth studied communication and music. Disch studied Spanish and then enrolled in the Master’s in Management program. Five months after graduation, the couple started their Dough-Joe’s food truck.
“I was really enjoying the Management program, and I thought a lot about either pursuing a more traditional career or starting my own business,” Disch said. “We actually talked about opening a bakery, but there were really high capital requirements.”
“We pivoted when we realized there wasn’t a boutique doughnut shop in town,” Roth said. “My dad always used to talk about opening a doughnut shop, so we borrowed his idea. A truck was on a smaller scale, and more manageable.”
Disch said his experience in the Master’s in Management program provided him with the necessary foundation to understand the inner workings of a business.
During the program, he and his teammates consulted for Fifth Third Bank during their Action Learning Project, generating a recommendation for expansion to a new market by identifying key economic drivers for loan production and private wealth management offices and performing comparative analysis with test markets.
The couple knew that they wanted to open their business in Winston-Salem after falling in love with the community while attending Wake Forest. When they decided to open Dough-Joe’s, their inexperience in the food service industry was their main obstacle.
“We had to learn so much in such a short period of time,” Roth said. “It was great that Eric had a business degree because he was able to handle the accounting and keep the financial side of the business in order. At the beginning, the easiest part of the business was making the food. The hardest part was everything else.”
The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. The company’s social media following has taken off, and they now have regulars who visit the truck multiple times a week.
“We’re becoming part of people’s weekly routine, which makes us a part of their life,” Disch said. “As long as you’re nice, honest, and hardworking and your customers see where you’re coming from, they’re very quick to offer you grace.”
In addition to continuing their food truck business, expanding their catering presence, and increasing their special event bookings, Disch and Roth plan to open a shop in Reynolda Village by the end of the summer.
“Ever since we opened the business, everything has moved so much faster than we would’ve thought,” Disch said. “It takes a lot of work but we’re learning really quickly.”