Donut miss out on new pastry shop in Forager

September 21, 2018

An eclectic mix of donuts has been selling out at the newly opened Drift Dough shop.

Located at the former Fiddlehead Coffee location nestled inside of Forager Brewing Co.’s entryway, Nathan Matter’s new business venture has proved to be busy during its first two weeks of business.

While Dunkin’ Donuts serves up scads of coffee and pastries downtown, Matter’s small-batch approach is unique in this city.

“’There’s nothing like that in Rochester,’” Matter remembers Forager assistant brewer Zack Dunbar telling him when Matter mentioned the business in passing. That stuck with Matter, and soon he was moving to Rochester to open up Drift Dough. “That kind of got the wheels turning.”

Figuring out how many donuts to bake each day has been a fun challenge in the early days of operation.

In a three-day span, Drift Dough made 20 varieties of donuts, with 12 varieties available each day. Flavors range from simple chocolate and sprinkles to orange creamsicle and even Matcha green tea – all made from scratch. Some are even vegan and gluten-friendly - they may not be entirely gluten-free, as Drift Dough shares a kitchen with Forager, but the dough does not contain gluten, and they’re fried separately from their wheat-filled compatriots.

It took a lot of failed donuts to get to this point.

“Donuts are such a finicky product,” Matter said. “The first two weeks we were working on it, it was just dialing the batter in.”

This isn’t Matter’s first foray into business. Growing up with parents who ran a chicken hatchery and then a clothing store in Decorah, Iowa, Matter founded and ran the Courtyard & Cellar – a craft beer bar and hangout – for five years before selling it.

Courtyard & Cellar was a popular destination for craft beer fans, but Matter said it wasn’t a hard decision to sell it. He just felt that starting something new would be exciting. And he hasn’t totally gotten away from beer.

“We’re kind of looking at it like a tap list,” Matter said. “We’re never going to have 30 donuts on any given day, but we’re going to be frequently rotating our donut selection. You’ll find nine to 12 donuts every day, but their flavors will change every few weeks. And we’re always throwing one or two new things into the mix.”

Being in the same building as Forager gives him unique opportunities for donut glazes. During a soft opening, he sold donuts in flavors like Gummies Make Us Glazeable and Donut Goggles, which used Forager beers Gummies Make Us Likeable and Pudding Goggles.

Pastry stouts are all the rage these days in the beer world, so it is possible that Forager stouts could one day be made with Drift Dough donuts. And catering is something that could happen.

For now, Matter is excited to be a part of a growing Rochester that has seen an eclectic mix of mom-and-pop shops open in recent years.

“We’ve been having a good time,” Matter said. “If I was tired by now that would be a bad sign. … We’re slowly adding components… but overall, we’re in a pretty good rhythm.”

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