Known for its imaginative and sometimes eccentric flavors, Voodoo Doughnut continues to spur growth since its fruition nearly 20 years ago.

Friends and entertainment-oriented Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon collaborated on creating Voodoo Doughnut, a boldly designed doughnut shop with bubble-gum pink walls in Old Town Portland. Today, the business has expanded beyond its roots to 20 locations across the country.

The chain offers 50 different doughnut flavors, made in-house daily, such as its signature Bacon Maple Bar, a raised bar with maple frosting and bacon. Other flavors include the Oh Captain, My Captain, a raised ring with vanilla frosting topped with Cap’n Crunch cereal, and the Grape Ape, featuring grape dust and lavender sprinkles—to name a few. The company also has a dedicated phone line for custom, special request, takeout orders.

Voodoo Doughnut offers 50 different flavors across stores, made in-house daily.

“We have a pretty strong cult following throughout in the country. We continue to be recognized as one of the places to see or go when you’re in Portland,” said Voodoo Doughnut CEO, Chris Schultz.

Schultz joined Voodoo in 2017 after three decades of experience in the restaurant industry, most recently as Senior Vice President of Operations for MOD Pizza, where he led the company’s expansion from a single location to over 350 outlets.

In 2020, Schultz helped the business adapt to having an omnichannel presence amid the pandemic. Prior to that, Voodoo was surprisingly still a cash-only business. However, the unprecedented times led the chain to quickly build an online ordering and delivery ecosystem. With a new focus on off-premises strategies, the company utilized Toast for online ordering and leveraged third-party platforms for delivery.

Chris Schultz, CEO Voodoo Doughnut

Utilizing AI for omnichannel feedback

With dine-in, online ordering, delivery, takeout and drive-thru (at select locations) live across a multitude of stores and counting, Schultz wanted to bring in technology to better manage the chain’s customer feedback across stores.

Jumping on the wave of artificial intelligence (AI) the chain recently partnered with Tattle, an AI-driven, customer feedback technology built with an open API that aims to simplify the guest feedback process. The platform collects customer feedback across all channels through its automated survey emails post-transaction, which breaks down each operational category (food quality, hospitality, accuracy, speed of service etc.) into underlying factors such as temperature, texture and more.

“This way operations, marketing, guest service and culinary teams can identify the highest-impact opportunities to improve guest satisfaction both at a location level and at the brand level,” Tattle wrote in a statement.

Tattle also uses AI to recommend monthly objectives for each location that has the highest likelihood of boosting guest satisfaction.

“It’s super important, especially coming out of Covid, that you listen to your customers, so many times customers drive our decisions on not only our offerings, but our pricing and the service that we provide in our store,” said Schultz. “I can’t be in every store and Tattle provides us a really great opportunity to keep our pulse on what our customers say about us and how our customers are viewing us. I think that’s even more important today than it has ever been in the restaurant industry.”

Prior to Tattle the chain used an in-person secret shopper program for feedback and although it was useful, Schultz says the Tattle platform has enabled the business to explore more information from their customers.

“We are super excited about what Tattle will bring to us, allowing us an opportunity to explore perhaps doughnuts that are developed from our customers,” said Schultz. “What do they want to see, what do they want to do. We choose to play in a different doughnut world, we’ve got some wacky doughnuts and we’re proud of that.”

Looking ahead, Voodoo plans to open three more locations this year and another eight to 10 in 2024, with the most recent debut in Tempe, Arizona.