The Doers: Rendezvous Doughnuts

Rendezvous Doughnuts opened its doors to downtown Durango in October of 2017, and in just a few short months they have established themselves as an integral part of the local community. Their mission is to create doughnuts as a destination and a space for people to enjoy delicious treats in a cozy meeting space, complete with games and puzzles to encourage their visitors to stay a while. Each doughnut at Rendezvous is artfully crafted with quality ingredients producing consistently tasty dough, glazes and toppings.

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If you ever have a chance to sit down with the founder, Charlie Shew, he will tell you that his love for doughnuts developed early. He tells of fond memories of friends and family visiting a small local doughnut shop with a large community presence. Upon recent graduation from Fort Lewis College, he set out to fill that missing void right here in Durango with a small town, community-centric doughnut shop of his own.

“I quickly came to realize that if I could determine if there was a market for this niche product, discern the proper business model, and achieve the financing hurtle, it was an adventure worth pursuing.”

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Charlie credits a large portion of his successful launch to the many business resources in Durango that he has taken advantage of as a startup. The mentorship and assistance from the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Fort Lewis College Hawk Tank, Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs (SCAPE), and  First Southwest Bank were all invaluable in making the doughnut shop a reality. Charlie also just got approved for the First Southwest Community Fund’s New Pioneers Microloan, a loan funded by  the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) for small businesses just like Rendezvous! A community filled with talented and dedicated business partners, bookkeepers, accountants, lawyers and bankers, graphic designers, bakers, restaurateurs, local artists, and family and friends makes overcoming the hurdles of entrepreneurship just a little easier.

The small town launch has not been without its hurdles. Charlie sites the seasonality of foot traffic, maintaining reliable employees, and creating sustainable growth as his biggest challenges. The surprisingly dry 2018 winter snow season recently affected Durango’s overall tourism traffic, but the Rendezvous team has taken advantage of the slower days by allocating more time to improving their production process, shop environment, and doughnut quality. They’ve even created a business membership discount program where local businesses can reserve doughnuts for their standing weekly and monthly business meetings.

“I think anyone with their wits about them would like to achieve the liberty of owning their own business, and to do it in a town like this,” Charlie concluded his interview. “I am surprised I have not had to get in line for such an experience. In all seriousness, doughnuts in Durango were a no-brainer because of the support network the local community provided during our initial days up to now.  Unexpected and bountiful waves of support — from regular local walk-ins, to amazing press coverage; mentors galore in the Durango food service industry, and family and friend support in the shop; help with brand development and marketing, to help with plans to expand the menu (HINT: it involves breakfast and lunch sandwiches!) — being welcomed by the business and entrepreneurial cohorts of this town has provided me a caliber of experience I could not dream of having elsewhere.”

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Rendezvous is open everyday (except Tuesday) from 7am-2pm and is located at 139 E 5th St. near the D&SNGR train station. For more on Rendezvous Doughnuts, visit them at www.rendezvousdoughnuts.com, or on instagram @rendezvousdoughnuts. To learn more about the opportunities offered to small businesses by First Southwest Bank, including the New Pioneers Microloan, visit www.fswcf.org, or email allspeciallending@fswb.com.