Since the famed Japanese doughnut chain Mister Donut entered Taiwan late last year and created a nationwide sensation, most people -- even those who do not have a sweet tooth -- assume that it's the only place they can get delicious doughnuts.
But actually, one year before the imported business started to create a craze, local doughnut shop Tien Chiu Fang (
"We have 15 branches in the greater Taipei area and a total of 70 nationwide," said Chang Chia-chien (
Tien Chiu Fang's first outlet was launched in September 2003 in Taipei's Ximending district, a magnet for the young who love trying novel things.
Everyday at 1:30pm, when its door open, a queue starts growing in front of the glass cabinet, where the steaming hot fried donuts are soon snatched away. Business always peaks after 4pm when people take some time off for a tea break, Chang said.
In contrast to the Japanese-style sweets sold at Mister Donut, Chang said his recipe is based on the traditional confection, with a crisp outer layer and chewy texture inside that richens the taste.
"The crispy part makes it even more tasty. The only drawback is that it's fried and therefore a bit greasy," said a woman surnamed Liao
Chang is proud of his golden crispy confection, which are sprinkled with white sugar.
"They require ten ingredients and special `fen hsin' flour
A former salesman in traditional markets who used to hawk mushrooms and clothes, Chang said he's had rich experience on how to do business as customers are always attracted to "different but good quality" products. Applied to his doughnut world, that rule means providing different but delicious flavors.
After working with friends in southern Taiwan selling traditional doughnuts, he decided to explore the market in the north.
Following months of research and development, he and his wife Huang Mei-chun (
With initial capital of nearly NT$400,000 (US$13,000) in the store, the Chang family broke even within two months. Now the shop sells an average of 1,000 doughnuts a day while its other outlets sell some 700 a day.
His sophisticated business sense is also reflected in the shop's logo, which was designed by the well-known cartoonist Chang Jung-kuei (
"Many customers said that wherever they go, they look for our sign to get donuts," he added.
Indeed, the small shop has quickly proliferated to cover 70 locations, most of which are run by couples. Now Chang is in charge of the business in the north, while his brother-in-law takes care of branches in central and southern Taiwan.
While Chang was being interviewed by the Taipei Times, a man in his 30s waited nearby to ask for information about franchising and tips on fulfilling his family's dream.