Doughnut man rises from tech wreck
Steve Hiatt gets to have his cake and eat it too Ñ but if he does he's nibbling into his profits.
The 48-year-old former software engineer traded in a 20-year tech career Ñ 10 of them spent at Intel Corp. Ñ for a custom doughnut cart in the park across from the Multnomah County Courthouse at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Salmon Street.
Hiatt started two months ago and makes plain, sugared and cinnamon doughnuts while you wait.
He was director of engineering for Digimarc Corp. last summer when layoffs loomed; he volunteered to leave.
'I had the entrepreneurial urge,' he says. 'I wanted to be my own boss. It was a very conscious lifestyle change.'
Hiatt spent six months writing business plans, then found something that suited his taste Ñ doughnuts.
'Last December, I came across this. And I thought, Where can you get fresh doughnuts in downtown Portland?'
Hiatt bought a $5,000 cart from another vendor and rebuilt it to his requirements, adding a $6,000 doughnut-maker, microwave oven and fire extinguisher. His wife, Kathy, came up with the name 'Carpe Donuts Ñ Seize a Dozen.'
Hiatt's baby doughnuts are larger than doughnut holes and sell for $2 for a half-dozen or $3 a dozen.
Are they healthy?
'There's no cholesterol in the doughnut mix or the oil, so they're as healthy as doughnuts get,' he laughs.
Carpe Donuts is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, with business at its peak as people arrive at work between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m., and another rush at coffee break from 10:30 a.m. to about 11 a.m.
Frequent eaters get 12 free doughnuts for every 144 they buy. Hiatt can handle large orders if people call ahead. (The number is 503-887-0202.) He also sells fruit juice, pop and organic milk.
'I'm working hard, having fun and making money,' Hiatt says. 'What else is there?'