New name, same homemade biscuits and donuts

Claremont’s new donut and biscuit shop is making a change. The shop, which opened as Grizzly’s Biscuits and Donuts in April, is changing its name to Grizzby’s.

The shop’s co-owners, Matt Fong and Travis Flood, were recently contacted by the owners of a bar and saloon in Montana, which holds the trademark to the name Grizzly’s.

“We’re happy it got caught and they reached out to us, especially early on,” Mr. Fong said.

Aside from this small snag, business is running smoothing at Grizzby’s. Word has quickly spread around Claremont about the shop, which features handmade donuts and biscuits made from scratch in the shop, using high-quality local ingredients.

Mr. Fong and Mr. Flood are not new to the restaurant industry. For four years, they have co-owned the popular eatery Pappas Artisanal in La Verne.

Mr. Flood is also an experienced cook who trained with Michelin Star chefs and was running a San Francisco restaurant when he was 26 years old.

Both have strong ties to Claremont, where they first met. Mr. Fong and Mr. Flood have for several years catered and participated in various local events, including A Taste of Claremont, Claremont Wine Walk and Blues and Brews, and have long been planning to open a restaurant in town. Mr. Flood is also a Claremont resident.

When the Grizzby’s location on Bonita Avenue in the Village became available in spring of 2016, Mr. Fong and Mr. Flood quickly pursued the space, initially planning to open a crab and lobster roll shop. They later returned to a stalled earlier idea—opening a donut shop.

There was just one problem—Mr. Flood did not know how to make donuts.

“Travis watched YouTube videos of donut making and worked in a test kitchen for eight months. They were really bad at the beginning, but they got better and we started asking friends to come test them, and we came up with a product in time for April 1,” Mr. Fong said.

During this process, Mr. Flood dedicated himself to precision, comparing his work to his experiences at Michelin Star restaurants with exacting standards. He took eight months to perfect Grizzby’s standard glazed donut.

“I made 20 batches two times per week for eight months. I looked for certain things like the perfect halo—the light-colored line in the center of the donut,” Mr. Flood said. “It looks simple and plain, but there’s more to it. When you open it up, there’s texture and layers.”

Grizzby’s also commits itself to using the best ingredients. Unlike most donut shops, Grizzby’s makes its own dough from four types of non-GMO, unbleached, never-bromated flours, and milk and eggs from Chino, Mr. Flood said. Grizzby’s also never uses corn syrup. The full process for making Grizzby’s donuts takes 24 hours.

“I want to make sure it’s the best product we can make. We want you to eat it and be happy,” Mr. Flood said. “We don’t want you to feel heavy and run down after you eat it, we want to you feel it was amazing, and with the same melt-in-your-mouth flavor you expect.”

Grizzby’s does not aim to make a better donut than every other shop in the area—just to make the best donut that they can and one that their customers enjoy, Mr. Flood added.

Mr. Flood’s commitment to homemade, non-processed ingredients extends to toppings and fillings. He refuses to put cereal on his donuts despite its current popularity, and even removed a popular Oreo-topped donut from Grizzby’s menu because of the processed ingredients in the cookies.

Grizzby’s also uses all natural colors, flavors and pigments in its icings and fillings, all of which are made in-house. The only processed topping is the sprinkles.

In addition to its donuts, Grizzby’s offers biscuits and biscuit sandwiches on homemade, hand-mixed, Southern-style biscuits, which have won compliments even from native Southerners.

“Our first month, there was this old Southern lady who came in for a biscuit every day for a month. She said it was one of the best biscuits she’d ever had,” Mr. Flood said.

While Mr. Flood was the initial mastermind behind Grizzby’s unique donut flavors, the shop’s cooks, many of whom are experienced bakers, have developed some of the newer donuts, like the carrot cake bar.

“I like coaching and mentoring them, and helping them see their potential in the industry,” Mr. Flood said. He believes that a job at Grizzby’s should be a pathway for cooks to achieve higher positions in the restaurant industry.

The staff’s hard work has paid off, as Grizzby’s business is busy and growing, Mr. Flood said. Word is also spreading about the shop in the wider community. Mr. Flood frequently receives compliments from teachers and parents at his child’s preschool, and customers keep coming back.

In August, as college students return to Claremont, Grizzby’s will to stay open until midnight on Friday, Saturday and possibly Thursday nights.

The shop will also be collaborating with area chefs to design specialty donut flavors, with the proceeds  donated to No Kid Hungry, a charity dedicated to ending childhood hunger.

—Marc Rod


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