Chris Schultz has been the CEO of Voodoo Doughnut since 2018 after a career that started when his father gave him the “gift” for his 16th birthday of a job washing dishes at a restaurant in Los Angeles.
Schultz resented that, but it did launch him into a career that he’s been in ever since. It has included 13 years at what was then a young coffeehouse chain called Starbucks, followed by nine years at the Seattle-based fast-casual chain MOD Pizza.
When it was time to make a career move, Schultz reflected on when he has had the most fun in his career, and he realized that it was when he was at small, spunky chains that he was eager to help expand.
Now he’s doing that in Portland, Ore., at Voodoo Doughnut, which has a cult following in its hometown in particular, but its fan base is growing as the concept expands to Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and beyond.
In many ways, Schultz and team were caught particularly flat-footed during the pandemic. Although doughnuts were a favorite treat for Americans during lockdown, Voodoo Doughnut was an in-person experiential concept known for its long in-person lines. It didn’t have online ordering or third-party-delivery capabilities that were a crucial part of the success of the best-performing restaurants.
But Schultz and his team acted quickly to alleviate that, while also doing their best to enjoy the process.
"We don't take ourselves too seriously,” he said. “Heck we make doughnuts for a living."
Schultz recently discussed his career path before taking the helm at Voodoo Doughnut, how the brand has adjusted to the changing times, and his plans for the future.
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