Jellyfish Donuts opens with a splash, near downtown

Jellyfish Donuts owner Brianna Krantz holds two gourmet donuts from her menu on July 10 at her storefront on Tongass Avenue. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

Over the July 4 holiday, Ketchikan saw the opening of Jellyfish Donuts.

Located at 910 Water St., Jellyfish Donuts will provide a rotating menu of sweet, savory and specialty options. Choices can include anything from a raspberry glazed doughnut to the “everything bagel” doughnut.

The “soft opening” of Jellyfish Donuts was early on the morning of July 4. Brianna Krantz, the owner and operator, estimated that the business sold out its stock of around 400 doughnuts before noon. The business' grand opening was July 8, when the doughnuts again sold out.

Initially, Krantz was concerned that Jellyfish Donuts would not be functional in time to serve Ketchikan's summer tourists. Now, she estimates that the ratio of local to tourist customers is somewhere around “75 to 25.”

“People seem to be really excited,” Krantz said about Ketchikan's response to the new shop.

Krantz was born and raised in Ketchikan.

In her early 20s, she traveled the world, spending time living in New Zealand, South Africa and Norway, as well as visiting India, Australia, Central America and Asia.

She said she always held the idea to come back to Ketchikan “in the back of her mind.”

After returning to the U.S., Krantz worked on the east and west coasts as a nanny and personal chef. She studied yoga and had planned on going to massage school. However, she always expected to one day venture into managing her own business, and had attended business marketing school prior to her world travel.

Krantz noticed that Ketchikan residents had many good ideas for new shops or restaurants in town, but often, they do not act on their ideas.

“I think that there's a lot of niches that haven't happened in Ketchikan yet, and I think Ketchikan is growing into kind of more of a craft, hipster town,” Krantz said. “I think 'local' is really huge here.”

Initially, Krantz was interested in the idea of a health food-style restaurant or shop in Ketchikan. She played with the idea of a Peruvian theme, where the food would include “Buddha bowls” and smoothies. Later, she decided that it would be too expensive to support, and switched to doughnuts.

“It can be breakfast, it's a celebration, kids love it (doughnuts),” Krantz said about her new plan.

The idea for Jellyfish Donuts came about in February of last year.

Finding a logo was a challenge. She tossed around the name 'Dough-phoria' for some time before her brother randomly suggested the name 'Jellyfish Donuts.'

For Krantz, starting a shop that sold doughnuts was a big change from her original, health-food based plans.

“I was never actually really good with baking,” she said. “I have just always loved food.”

Krantz received a grant from Ketchikan Indian Community, which helped cover the opening costs, and recently became a finalist for financial assistance from The Path to Prosperity development program, which is associated with the Spruce Root foundation, a loan company for startup businesses in Southeast Alaska.

Jellyfish Donuts' kitchen space and building is small, but the walls are already filling up with different kinds of art contributed by locals. Krantz plans to sell the art from the building, without charging commission rates.

Krantz said that during the process of opening, everything fell into place, even if she thought the process was slow-going.

“It was kind of meant to be in all these little ways,” Krantz said, “where if something didn't work out, something else happened that was better.”

“It all kind of came together,” she continued. “... I was nervous. You know, it's a lot of pressure to create something, and then sometimes you feel you aren't quite as qualified as other people.”

Even though Krantz was optimistic about how the business was “meant to be,” there were still difficulties in getting the shop ready to open.

The machinery that Krantz bought for the kitchen was used, and the doughnut fryer required unexpected repairs. Arrangements for inspections with the City of Ketchikan and the installation of electricity had to be rescheduled as she worked to prep the space.

Krantz said that learning to make her doughnuts before the shop's kitchen was functional was difficult, as her own kitchen was too small to handle the project.

Now, using the shop's kitchen, she has to wake up early in the morning to start the dough, which takes around an hour and a half to make, and must refrigerate and then set up for a few more hours.

Before the official opening on July 8, she would often have to use a friend's kitchen to practice making doughnuts for the shop, as her own kitchen was too small.

“It's going to be a new learning experience to really be an owner and a boss,” she said. “I've always, in my life, taken big risks. I think this is just another way I can live my life, kind of.”

Krantz thinks that “maybe something big can happen out of this.”

Right now, the shop is open seven days a week, beginning at 8 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends, and will stay open until the doughnuts sell out each day.