February 2, 2015

Dat Donut wins nationwide grant, may open third location

Dat Donut, a popular doughnut store in the Chatham neighborhood, located at 83nd Street and S. Cottage Grove Avenue, received a $150,000 grant last Friday from Chase Bank’s nationwide Mission Main Street Grants Program.

Dat Donut was one of 20 winners chosen from over 30,000 applicants, all of whom were competing for a portion of the $3 million grant money. The winners also receive a Chromebook laptop, a trip to Google headquarters for a marketing workshop, and a $2,000 credit for Google Consumer Surveys. Due to local support garnered through social media, Dat Donut was able to gather the 250 signatures needed to submit its application.

The Mission Main Street Grants Program is designed to help small businesses, choosing the top applicants to be judged by its panel through a public vote. The panel includes judges from Google, the Women Business Enterprise National Council, the National Urban League and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

Other winners include Bill Lewis Outdoors, a fish and tackle manufacturer in Los Angeles, La Casa Azul Bookstore, a bookstore and educational center that promotes Latino traditions in New York, and Qubits Toys Inc., a company that makes educational geometric toys in Florida. 

Darryl Townson, co-owner of Dat Donut with his wife, Andrea Townson, told the Chicago Citizen they intend to use the money on various store improvements, including updating the facade, additional employee training, purchasing new equipment, adding to their staff of 36 employees, and potentially opening a third location.

Michael McDonald, general manager of Dat Donut, said other planned improvements included remodeling the store’s lobby, roof, HVAC system, and lights, as well as making investments into employees by paying for their culinary classes.

McDonald also indicated that they were planning on completing the remodel within one to two years.

“Once the weather is better, we’ll have contractors come in and give us some estimates on the roof...We can open up the counter space and make it more accessible, so it can feel like it’s a more welcoming environment…with the improvements, I think people will see it right away,” McDonald said.

Laura Helmuth, Market Manager for Business Banking at Chase Bank Chicago, told the Chicago Citizen that the story of Dat Donut’s growth and success in the community earned them the grant.

“There were two really great stories here that captured our attention,” Helmuth told the Chicago Citizen. “For one, there is a great story about growth and adding jobs into the community and we’ve got a business that’s a local institution, and [second], the story of Darryl and Andrea and how they’ve grown this business with the people who voted for them.”