Follow up: Nibble Inc

Nibble Inc 2016-June Jesse Cramer

By Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

AOA is on summer break this week. So, like last summer, we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've covered during the last few years.

Today we're checking back in with Jessie Cramer of Nibble Inc, a donut shop in downtown Troy. Nibble is known for its gourmet donuts that are made out of a potato-based dough.

When we first met Nibble, Cramer told us that this inspiration for her shop came from eating an amazingly delicious donut in Maine:

"The best doughnut I've ever had," Cramer adds. "And I thought 'How can I make this donut so I can have it whenever I want?'"

After almost two years in business, Cramer has refined her recipe, grown her business, and is planning for an upcoming move.

Nibble Inc 2016-June exterior

What's changed since you opened, in terms of what you offer and what you're doing for your business?

Hmm, that's a good question. I think mostly the quality has changed. When we first opened, we weren't ready. We thought we were, but we had no idea. So to mass-produce that many donuts, it was hard to be consistent.

So now we have added a bunch of new things into the recipe so it's a totally different dough than in the beginning. We've hired a lot of new people. In the beginning it was just the couple of us, and mostly my family, and now I have lots of different people working for us.

Flavors just get more creative, I think. And now we do wholesale, which we didn't do in the beginning, either. We also offer gelato from Crisan bakery, we have espresso, which we didn't do in the beginning, so now we make lattes, we have a couple smoothies, and that's about it.

Nibble Inc 2016-June donuts shelves

Since opening Nibble, what have you learned?

I've learned that sometimes you just have to be confident in your own knowledge. Everybody wants to change something. I had no idea when I opened this that I would have 50 people telling me what I should do different. Sometimes it's helpful; other times you just end up getting frustrated because there are so many different voices. Although, my donuts are so much different than a lot of doughnuts. There is a huge market for our donuts, and the people that like them like them because they are different. So if I conformed and made them more like a normal donut, I would lose a little of the respect, I guess. That was a big thing.

I didn't know that I was going to bring it home with me every day. You never stop thinking about it; it's always on your mind. It's part of who you are.

What's something that's been surprising to you about running Nibble?

That I still have no idea what to expect on a daily basis, as far as customers. No idea.

Some days you'll be like, 'Today is probably going to be a slow day,' and you'll be slammed all day. And then on certain days that you expect to be busy, it will be slow all of a sudden, and next week it's totally different. I guess I didn't expect such a fluctuation in the market. I thought I would always know what to expect on a weekly basis.

Nibble Inc 2016-June interior

How do you deal with that, because everything is fresh...

If you make too much, then you donate it, and you can always write it off anyway. I make enough to get through the day, but then some days we sell out. But it's a risk that you take because you don't want to have waste. I feel like I am getting better at guessing, but it's still a guess.

What has frustrated you?

Probably the lack of bakers that are available and looking for jobs. It's so hard to find somebody who wants to work all night baking. That's what's frustrated me the most, because you do have people that will come in and work during the day, but I had no idea. I thought there would be a ton of people that this is what they do, and they work overnight.

What else has really frustrated me is that Troy has no allowance for business owners and parking. So you spend a lot of money paying parking tickets. I know that all the business owners in town are super mad because they all get tickets all the time and you don't get, as an owner, a parking pass for free or anything; you have to pay, and you can't always leave [to move your car] because we're small businesses.

What is something that has felt like a win?

Whole Foods [wholesale account] was definitely my biggest win, so far, because it was validating in a way. Because we are different and there are ingredients that I use that most donut shops don't use and it makes a different donut. So knowing that they wanted to have us because we were different, that was a huge win. And to have them come to us and say all these people have been asking for you, that was a win for sure.

What's next for you guys?

What's next? We're moving!

In September, it looks like, we'll be moving into 333 Broadway -- the Center of Gravity Building. It's a much smaller space, but we're building it to be the most efficient way for us to be in there. We're doing it for financial reasons, but also in going forward it will be awesome. There are 200 people who work in that building that walk by your door, so it's a whole new exposure that you don't always get. I think there is a lot of college kids in there a lot of the time too, so it kinda fits with us better.

We're going to do a couple of new things when we're there. We're going to specialize in making really cool looking specialty donuts, but then I'm also going to do a couple paninis for lunch, and a couple other breakfast options, just so people will have a few more things, since there's nothing else being offered in the building right now. So instead of them always having to leave, now they'll have an option to stay, which will be nice.

Yeah, so I guess mostly the move and just opening up what we offer a little more. We'll extend our hours, because being in the less expensive space will allow me to have employees work longer, and there are so many people that are in that building late. I think probably at least until 5 [pm], but maybe certain times of the year until 7, depending.

Nibble Inc 2016-June donuts

If you're making the donuts even fancier, will the price point change too?

I think I have a way to do it so it's the same as what it is now. A different way, but a little more efficient. I want to concentrate. We do really gourmet styled donuts for Whole Foods, and I kind of want every donut to not only to taste good but to be, visually, works of art, more on the artist end of it to be sure.

Is there anything else that you want to say?

I love Troy; that's why I'm staying in Troy. It's a really good community and I think that something else I didn't expect was the support from the other businesses. So when you're having a bad day somebody will email you and be like, 'Dude, I feel you, I'm going through the same kind of thing.' That has been a real help, I guess in getting through rough days and they support you and cheer you on when the good things happen too, so that's awesome.

This interview has been lightly edited.
____

Lauren Hittinger Hodgson is a freelance writer and contributor to AOA. She lives in Troy with her husband, baby, and dozen almost-dead houseplants.

Comments

Troy desperately needs a parking permit system for residents and business owners. It's ridiculous that on the occasional weekday I'm off work between 8 and 5 I can't park outside my own building without worrying about tickets. If I wanted parking hassles, I'd live in Albany!

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