By Carson Lewis | Assistant Digital Managing Editor
Nightlight donut shop is set to open their first physical location this Friday. The storefront, located at 6500 Woodway Drive, has been open this week for a “practice week,” in order to increase efficiency with the drive-through line and get familiar with the new space.
Jackson Wren, who founded the company with his twin brother Eric Wren in 2018, said that the opening of the store offers more stability than their previous outlet of selling from a food truck.
“The truck has been a break-even experiment to see if this will work — and it does work,” Wren said. “We were getting cut off at the knees with capacity, so it was either keep operating a break-even operation, which I didn’t want to do, or go with something I knew would work … [the new storefront is] definitely more stable.”
Wren said that the problem with their previous food truck was that they had to make their product in a commissary kitchen, which was in use by several parties and had specific hours for use, meaning that the business was forced to close after selling their stock for the day.
Other problems also arose with fans of the donut joint being unable to find their truck, as issues came up with finding a good location for the vehicle.
“People would be chasing down our truck, trying to find us. It was super hard to find. We would have to fight for parking,” Wren said.
Now, the physical location should offer a degree of security in the pandemic, as the company had to close down due to the quarantine restrictions. It decided to use its manpower and extra cash resources to manufacture masks for healthcare workers, as Wren said that helping people was the number one priority.
“I would have felt weird selling [masks]… Even though we’re a business, 1a is being there for people, and 1b is making money. I put being there for people slightly ahead,” Wren said. “I didn’t feel comfortable selling them.”
The company is developing their culture with the opening of the location, and Sam Park, Nightlight’s vice president of operations and college friend of Wren, said that developing a good working culture with both employees and customers is imperative.
“The culture is super important to us. That’s something we’re really trying to cultivate. I want everyone to be having fun,” Park said. “We’re going to work hard, we’re going to get our jobs done, we’re going to make sure this is a great experience for our customers — but we’re going to make sure that we’re having fun, that our employees are taking care of.”
Wren said that the end goal of the business is to have locations in all college cities in the U.S.
“Day one, when we started the truck, I wanted to see if this would work for a storefront. And if we could make it work for a storefront, I think we could make it work for multiple locations. The idea is we want to franchise this,” Wren said. “I want us to be in every college town across the country. It’s a lofty goal.”