Sean Harshbargar never imagined his hometown pastor would eventually become his boss.
The 32-year-old Denver resident opened Colorado’s first Parlor Doughnuts, which is based in his hometown of Evansville, Indiana, in Denver in February. He’s planning to open a second location next month at 5001 S. Parker Road, Unit 112, in Aurora.
Harshbargar’s former pastor, Darrick Hayden, launched Parlor Doughnuts with his son Noah in 2019. The chain now has seven locations in Indiana, Florida, California, South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee, along with Denver.
Harshbargar is a part-owner of the Colorado stores, and also serves as general manager.
“The way he started was by getting managers that he knew and trusted well, and it kind of worked out for both of us,” Harshbargar said of Hayden. “I saw the success in Evansville, and really enjoy the product and the overall company itself. So, I knew it would be a great fit.”
The chain serves “layered donuts” made from croissant dough. The items are sometimes referred to as “cronuts,” although technically that’s trademarked.
Parlor Doughnuts’ 1,700-square-foot shop at 95 Lincoln St., previously home to Spur Coffee, is open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
It serves layered donuts in 20 different flavors, including strawberry shortcake, cookies n’ cream, French toast and “Campfire” with a chocolate glaze, toasted mini marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs. The dough is layered in butter for a flaky sweet finish.
The donut shop also offers vegan and keto donuts, donuts for dogs, coffee, fresh-pressed juices and milkshakes in every donut flavor.
Harshbargar signed a lease for the Aurora space around the same time he opened the Baker location and has already been making all the donuts there. Now, he’s adding counter service.
“Darrick knew Denver would be a great market for these donuts since there’s not too many croissant-like donuts around here. And, as a big time snowboarder, he wanted an excuse to visit the mountains,” Harshbargar said.
Hayden was always a donut connoisseur, trying new types when he toured with his son Noah’s Christian rock band back in the day, and he fell in love with the “cronut” fad that started in New York.
Noah, on the other hand, was a coffee connoisseur who opened his own coffee roastery in Evansville in 2015 after his band days. Each of Parlor Doughnuts’ locations serve coffee roasted by his company.
Eventually, Harshbargar said, he hopes to open around five donut shops in Colorado, including another in Denver and possibly one in Boulder or other mountain towns.
Parlor Doughnuts, which he said has plans to open six new stores this year, is also getting ready to franchise and expand into New York.
“Darrick has been successful since the start, and now he’s riding the wave,” Harshbargar said.