It's good that Russ DiGilio, the creator of a fast-growing doughnut shop, has a sense of humor.

He's the founder and CEO of a company with "a tremendous fanbase, all over doughnuts," he says, laughing. DiGilio spent 30 years in healthcare and planned to end his career doing just that. But that sense of humor gets serious: Duck Donuts has blossomed into 80+ shops, with 145 more stores expected to open across the country eventually.

"I still scratch my head over it sometimes," he says.

Duck Donuts starts with just one option: a vanilla-cake doughnut. Then, customers choose their own doughnut coating, topping and drizzle. (Pictured here: maple icing with bacon on top)

Duck Donuts starts with just one option: a vanilla-cake doughnut. Then, customers choose their own doughnut coating, topping and drizzle. (Pictured here: maple icing with bacon on top)

Ashley Landis/Staff Photographer

Duck Donuts opens its first North Texas shop in Addison on Saturday, July 13. Its remodel took longer than expected — it was initially going to open in late fall 2018 — but managers Sunny Bassi and Jesse Bassi hope it'll be worth the wait.

Customers watch their doughnuts get iced as they walk down the line at Duck Donuts.

Customers watch their doughnuts get iced as they walk down the line at Duck Donuts.

Ashley Landis/Staff Photographer

Duck Donuts is a made-to-order shop where every step happens in front of the customer, starting with a single option: a vanilla-cake doughnut. 

"You watch us mix the batter, drop it in to the fryers," the CEO says. Customers can press their noses against the Plexiglass (or, y'know, get close) and choose a coating (like cinnamon sugar, glazed, chocolate, peanut butter and more); a topping (sprinkles, chopped peanuts, shredded coconut, or bacon pieces, casual); and a drizzle (hot fudge, marshmallow, salted caramel and more).

The Addison shop is located near Belt Line Road and Marsh Lane. PR manager Kristin Kellum says patrons can possibly expect "a line, out the door, all day," if other openings are an indicator. 

The blueberry icing and powdered sugar on top of a vanilla-cake doughnut makes this Duck Donuts treat taste like a blueberry pancake.

The blueberry icing and powdered sugar on top of a vanilla-cake doughnut makes this Duck Donuts treat taste like a blueberry pancake.

Ashley Landis/Staff Photographer

The company was created because DiGilio and his family members were vacationing in North Carolina and lamenting the lack of a great doughnut shop. "I've always been a bit of an entrepreneur," he says, and "I thought, You know what? For fun, let's try to figure this out and make something of it."

The first stores opened in 2007, and at first, they struggled, he says. The company is named for Duck, North Carolina, a small town in the Outer Banks where the DiGilios take vacations. The regulars were around only seasonally, and it took a few years for Duck to establish a name. Once it did, however, the company turned into a franchise in 2013.

When Duck Donuts' first franchise opened in Williamsburg, Virginia, DiGilio says it drew TV cameras and fanfare. "It was craziness, over a doughnut shop."

Store Manager Sunny Bassi (left) will operate Duck Donuts in Addison for owner Dr. Gary Bhatti, her brother.

Store Manager Sunny Bassi (left) will operate Duck Donuts in Addison for owner Dr. Gary Bhatti, her brother.

Ashley Landis/Staff Photographer

The Addison shop is owned by North Carolina resident and ex-military man Dr. Gary Bhatti. He visited the North Carolina shop before it was a franchise, then signed on to open his own shop in North Texas when DiGilio began growing the business. Bhatti asked his sister Sunny Bassi and her husband Jesse Bassi to run the first North Texas shop, which was a significant change for both of them: Jesse operates gas stations in North Texas and Sunny resigned her position as a medical assistant with Baylor Scott & White.

After one day of dipping doughnuts at the Houston restaurant, Sunny says she was in.

"When I first heard about it, I didn't get the concept," she says. "I thought it was just a doughnut shop. It's so much more than that." The shop tries to differentiate itself with its made-to-order model and special vanilla-cake recipe.

Duck Donuts opens in Addison also sells doughnut sundaes: a choose-your-own doughnut dolloped with ice cream and toppings like chocolate sauce and sprinkles.

Duck Donuts opens in Addison also sells doughnut sundaes: a choose-your-own doughnut dolloped with ice cream and toppings like chocolate sauce and sprinkles.

Duck Donuts Franchising Company/

While 90 percent of the customers buy doughnuts, the company also sells coffee.

Customers can also consider two seriously stacked doughnut options: a doughnut breakfast sandwich, made with egg, bacon or sausage and cheese; or a doughnut sundae. Because who's counting calories anyhow?

Actually: Calorie counts are listed on the menu. You don't need to know.

Duck Donuts opens at 3765 Belt Line Road, Addison, on July 13, 2019.

Editor's note: This story was originally written Sept. 5, 2018. It was revised July 12, 2019, before the opening.

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