Rise Biscuits and Donuts opens on Guadalupe

Meara Isenberg

Early risers and brunch lovers commuting on Guadalupe Street have something to celebrate today, as Rise Biscuits and Donuts opens for business on the Drag.

Store co-owner Shashin Desai said the sweet and savory breakfast joint, which is the franchise’s first location in Austin, aims to provide students with a fun atmosphere and fresh food options.

“We make fresh biscuits, we do fun donuts, sandwiches, coffee and hash puppies,” Desai said. “It’s a unique combination where we do sweet things in our donuts, but we also do savory through our biscuits and our sandwiches.”

Desai said the store’s donuts are made fresh every day, and a new batch of biscuits is baked every 30 minutes. The store’s menu includes the potentially sugar-coma-inducing apple fritter and maple bacon bar, as well as biscuit sandwiches such as the “Savory Buffalo,” a buttermilk biscuit tossed in buffalo and blue cheese sauce.

Founder and CEO Tom Ferguson opened the first Rise location in North Carolina in 2012, and said inspiration for a donut-biscuit hybrid came from his experience making biscuits and his three daughters’ love for donuts. Since then, the franchise has spread to more than 15 locations across the country, offering customers something sugary or savory to indulge in.

“We’re not ‘the healthy thing,’ and ‘the healthy thing’ is what’s kind of (popular) now, but to pump in some calories into you for whatever the reason is, we’re a great spot for it,” Ferguson said. “We use really high-quality ingredients for our stuff; that’s what makes us a little bit more expensive, but our portion sizes are bigger.”

Austinite Patrick Hoffstetter, who lives near Rise, said he is not a fan of the Dunkin’ Donuts location on the Drag and is exited for more fresh breakfast options in the University area.

“I’m excited to have this place be properly open because now I’ve got a new place to meet people for breakfast,” Hoffstetter said.

On Monday morning, 150 people who opted into a social media promotion were able to visit Rise’s new location early and taste some food. Computer engineering freshman Ottavio Peruzzi, who works at the new location and served customers during the event, said he sees how Rise will be convenient to students.

“It’s right off Dean Keeton, so it’s really easy to pick up a donut on the way to class or get lunch here,” Peruzzi said. “Everything’s made right behind the counter — you can see it being made as you order it.”

Peruzzi said his favorite thing off the menu is the buffalo chicken biscuit and hash puppies, which are tater tots with cheddar cheese and chives.

“They might look like tater tots, but if tater tots evolved for, like, 10 billion years, maybe that’s what hash puppies would be,” Peruzzi said.

Ferguson said the Austin location likely won’t be the last for the franchise, but he wants to make sure all the current stores are operating consistently before thinking about expanding the donut and biscuit joint.

“We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time,” Ferguson said. “I still would like to do 1,000 stores, that would be awesome, but right now we are focused on what we’ve got at hand.”