Business that makes donuts made from local craft beer wins a tasty opportunity

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CLEVELAND - A staggering 80 percent of new businesses fail within their first 18 months. It's a figure that doesn't sit well with the tight-knit Tremont neighborhood.

Nearly a dozen businesses competed for the spot - and tonight we introduce you to the winner - who is now getting a little help to see the possible.

"Our product is so Cleveland, because it's artisan and craft and very cool, but it also has blue collar roots," Shelley Fasulko, co-owner of Brewnuts says.

Brewnuts is a start-up business that specializes in sophisticated donut flavors made with local craft beers.

It's a concept that is so winning, they won some prime real estate at an incredible price.

It's all part of the Tremont Storefront Incubator Project, a community initiative designed to help local businesses get off the ground.

"The mission of the Incubator is to get quality tenants in there who have a dream, have a vision and just need some help, just needs that bricks-and-mortar space to realize their dream," explains Cory Riordan, Executive Director of Tremont West Development Corporation.

Colaborating with the Hispanic Business Center, Tremont West Development Corporation sent out a call for proposals from small businesses.

The winning proposal would get FREE rent for three months in a retail space right on trendy Professor Ave. The business would then get greatly reduced rent for seven months after that.

"After that ten months, we're helping them identify that next space and that next segment of their growth," Riordan says.

Criteria for the winning proposal included having a clear plan for after the incubation period, as well as being a business that was ready for growth.

"How would you utilize it? What's your business plan?" Riordan rattles off some of the questions asked of competing businesses. "How are you going to finance it so we're sure that you're going to incubate this so after ten months there's a future business?"

So how did Brewnuts score the coveted spot?

"Brewnuts is a tremendous idea and concept, using craft beer and that whole scene and turning it into something everyone loves - donunts," Riordan smiles. "They brought in samples and maybe that's what won the day. You feed me a donut and you get high marks."

Fasulko knows this can be the growth opportunity that they've been looking for.

After working in a shared kitchen and largely selling their products through other retailers, this will be the first time Brewnuts has it's own shop.

"It's that opportunity to stress-test the business plan and say, 'What are we capable of? What's the right fit for us?" And to work out the kinks that so many businesses don't get to until they have their permanent space," Fasulko says.

And the real key to their success is, of course, their donuts.

The Bernie is a classic glazed and frosted donut, made with Great lakes Brewing Company's Dortmunder Lager.

The Bumbler uses Fathead's Bumbleberry Ale to create a blueberry cake muffin with a Meyer lemon zest glaze.

For a little salty goodness, the Boss Hog is a maple-bacon donut that uses the bourbon-y flavor of a nut brown ale that is fermented in whiskey barrels.

For now, Brewnuts is enjoying a warm reception and sell-out days in the hip, urban storefront.

It's a small shop, but Riordan hope the Incubator mission will lead to very big things.

"We're only using our one storefront, but we're hoping that can seed development within the city of Cleveland."

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