It’s eight o'clock in the morning in Frisco and Detour Doughnuts and Coffee just opened. Entering the store plays with your senses from the strong aroma of fresh coffee followed by sights of intricately decorated doughnuts laid out in the display case. Sounds of mellow hip-hop music can be heard along with a “good morning” from the welcoming staff. One bite of their Melona Mint doughnut completes the sensory experience; its pillowy bite and an unlikely combination of smooth honeydew and fresh mint delight the taste buds.
Customers (or “Detourists”, as they are endearingly called) get to enjoy offerings from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., which is only made possible with a 4 a.m. start time for the staff, with several ingredients prepared the night before. The dough goes through a series of stages: mixed, kneaded, rolled out, cut, fried and scooped away when ready. Each doughnut is carefully decorated, topped with either a generous slather of glaze, fresh whipped cream, a glass-like coating of caramelized sugar or drizzles of tempered chocolate, then finished with fruits, nuts, herbs or sprinkles.
Every day sweet and savory items are offered, such as glazed doughnuts, pigs in a blanket and Tacodeli breakfast tacos. However, weekly flavors keep the menu venturesome. The bright green Melona Mint is an ode to the popular South Korean ice pop, which could be a nostalgic taste for some or an entirely new experience for others. Fig Mascarpone has a slightly savory cream that compliments the deep honey-like fig. Key Lime Pie is filled with lime-infused cream, a dusting of crushed graham crackers, which is then topped with dollops of toasted meringue. Strawberry Clementine is a glazed doughnut that is sliced and filled with fresh whipped cream and slices of strawberry and clementines, reminiscent of a Japanese fruit sando. Drinks like lavender lemonade and “Goth Latte” add to the fun and quirky menu.
Following that path wasn't her initial plan. Cho received a degree in biomedical engineering in 2016 and set her sights on medical school until an unfortunate medical diagnosis for her father prompted her to switch gears. She was helping run her parents’ doughnut shop, caring for her father while also pregnant with her first child. The situation inspired her to do something that was always in the back of her mind: open a gourmet doughnut shop.
The first year was difficult.
“It was a year of only saying ‘yes’ to any opportunity,” she says. “I would do a lot just to move the needle a small minuscule amount.”
Cho had to learn new skills unattainable from her parents’ traditional mom and pop shop: leading a team, catering to a different clientele, and connecting with customers via social media just to name a few — all in addition to being a single mother.
2020 proved to be a year of readjustment, as all small businesses experienced. Detour’s operations were temporarily altered by halting walk-ins and shifting instead to online preorders and no-contact curbside pickup. At the same time, Cho welcomed discussions, showed support and donated to social causes such as Black Lives Matter and the AAPI community — not afraid to stand up and be a voice for the community.
On Sunday, July 11, 2021, Detour celebrated its third anniversary and in her own words, things have been “really good.” She continues to look for inspiration for new flavors, find opportunities to learn something new and makes time to connect with her staff. When asked what keeps her motivated, Cho said every day is a chance to be grateful and provide new opportunities, but her real motivation is her son.
“With him, I have to maintain a certain baseline of decency, financial security, curiosity, positivity and happiness,” Cho says. “His joy is incredible and inspiring.”
Detour Doughnuts and Coffee, 8161 FM 423 #250, Frisco. Open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays - Sundays.