Rob, Connie & Frank
NOLA Doughnuts is the story of a landscape architect, a nurse and an entrepreneur, who together opened a doughnut shop. Siblings Rob and Connie were close as young children growing up in New Orleans, but their life experiences took them in different directions as adults. With dreams of opening a doughnut shop, Rob was working to perfect his recipe in his small Baton Rouge kitchen; all while Connie was raising a beautiful family in Portland, Oregon. In 2012 tragedy struck, and Connie lost her husband and her mother within three months. In the wake of these losses, Connie’s siblings relocated to help their sister. Rob didn’t give up on that recipe and was soon wowing Connie’s Portland friends with his mouthwatering doughnuts. Before long, entrepreneur and doughnut lover, Frank Halpin, got on board to support Rob and Connie with their goal of opening a doughnut shop that reminded them of their New Orleans roots.
New Orleans is a city deeply rooted in food, family, and community, and these traditions are important to us at NOLA Doughnuts. One of Connie and Rob’s fondest memories as children is having a po'boy and other traditional New Orleans dishes at Lama’s Seafood, a second-generation restaurant owned and operated by their Aunt Pam and Uncle Joe Lama, in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Family would come together, fill their tummies with humble dishes and feed their souls with love and support from those who gathered around the table.
At NOLA, we make our La’ssants, beignets, and po’ boys with these customs and culture in mind, hoping to help create new traditions for families in Portland!
The taste, smell, and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories not just of the food itself, but also of the setting and the people who were part of the experience. Everything about NOLA, from the wall colors and décor, to the excessive amount of powdered sugar on our beignets, is intentional.
Our square doughnuts are made using a combination of traditional French and innovative pastry techniques, relying on traditional flavors to create classic and new La’ssant varieties. Our La’ssants are a gourmet item, made with dough that is handcrafted over a three-day period and layered with the finest grass fed, European butter. The result is a doughnut with great complexity of flavor, a deep richness, and a delicate, crisp outer layer.
Like most New Orleans natives, Rob and Connie’s first time eating beignets was a shared experience with family. An outing to the local beignet shop was truly a highly anticipated event, where the traditional rules of avoiding too much sugar or making a mess were thrown out the window. When you pick up that beignet, your fingers become sticky and powdered sugar falls on the table, your clothes, and the floor. Don’t worry, nobody’s looking…or at least, nobody’s judging. Beignets are a special routine and tradition for everyone in New Orleans.
Wanting to share this tradition with his niece and nephews living in Portland, Rob taught himself how to make beignets. Seeing their joy was all the motivation needed to share beignets with the Portland community. NOLA’s beignets are an enriched, sweetened dough gently worked and lightly fried into pillowy squares. They are traditionally served in quantities of three topped with an excessive amount of powdered sugar, and that’s how we make and serve our beignets at NOLA.
Mardi Gras is synonymous with excess, indulgence and debauchery. However, there is a deeper side of Mardi Gras that’s not as well known outside New Orleans. The real Mardi Gras is centered on community and family, bringing people together. And one of the greatest shared experiences of Mardi Gras is the king cake.
Starting on January 6th and continuing through Mardi Gras day, King Cakes are often served at school birthday parties, office gatherings, and homes throughout New Orleans. The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. The cake is decorated in the royal colors of purple, which signifies justice, green for faith, and gold for power. In the past, a bean or coin was hidden in the cake. Today, a tiny plastic baby is the hidden prize. Whoever is served the slice of king cake with the hidden baby is named “King" or “Queen” for the day and tradition states the “King” or “Queen” receives the honor of hosting the next King Cake party. Every family has a favorite king cake from their favorite local bakery. Rob’s King Cake captures characteristics of his family's favorite.
NOLA Doughnuts' King Cake is a brioche dough baked to perfection and topped with our house-made Madagascar Vanilla frosting.
We are delighted to share a piece of New Orleans’s rich history and culinary tradition with the recent addition of po'boys to our menu.
There is more than one version of the history of the po'boy in New Orleans, but many say that the sandwich was invented by the Martin brothers, Benny and Clovis, to inexpensively feed striking streetcar drivers in 1929. According to the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, Benny Martin once said: "We fed those men free of charge until the strike ended. Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming, one of us would say, 'Here comes another poor boy.’"
At NOLA, the humble po'boy is thoughtfully prepared with high quality ingredients and Leidenheimer French Bread, a New Orleans institution since 1896. When the New Orleans po'boy is "dressed," the reference has nothing to do with fashion! "Dressed" in New Orleans nomenclature means that lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise are added to the sandwich. Please visit us to see our current offering of po’boys.