Mōr Doughnuts

Laguna alum launches successful small business in the midst of the pandemic.

Abby Kim

Mochi doughnuts, a chewy and light treat, have finally come to Santa Barbara. Tommy Chang, a Laguna alum, started his own small business called Mōr Doughnuts which focuses on making and selling mochi doughnuts. 

The local business opened its doors November of 2020 and it is not an exaggeration to say that business is booming. 

Despite Chang opening in late 2020 in the midst of COVID-19, his business is flourishing–a fact that can be seen with the fast sellout of Chang’s doughnuts every week. 

The doughnuts can be ordered on the website “mordoughnuts.com” with pre-orders available every Thursday for pickup between Friday and Sunday. With only a limited number of doughnuts available each week, Chang’s doughnuts are known to sell out immediately and are in high demand. 

The doughnuts come in the popular bubble mold and are covered with colorful icing and fun toppings. They come in aesthetically appealing boxes with a holographic design on the inside and a nice note from the owner. 

With their flavors changing every week, the doughnuts come in a variety that customers are able to explore.

In reflecting on why he chose mochi doughnuts in particular, Chang mentions that  he wanted to incorporate both his American and Asian cultural background into a food.  

“Doughnuts, an American staple, when added with chewy rice flour found in mochi, which is nostalgic to Asians, creates doughnuts with an Asian twist that all people can enjoy.”

Chang explains how by choosing doughnuts, which many Americans are familiar with, even if he were to incorporate an “Asian twist” on the food, or the mochi, people would be more open to trying his product. 

When his Black Sesame mochi doughnut, a popular flavor in Asian culture, was first introduced, Chang describes his surprise in the very positive response in the doughnut. 

Despite the doughnut being an inherently Asian flavor, its popularity makes Chang excited to see different cultures making their breakthrough through food. 

Another doughnut flavor, Mango Tajin, which is a combination of Taiwanese and Mexican flavors, received positive feedback these positive responses make Chang thrilled for the growing acceptance of diverse cultures’ flavors. 

The flavors vary from more conventional to rarer options; flavors range from Fruity Pebbles and Ferrero Rocher to Thai Tea Oreo and Browned Butter Maple Blueberry depending on the week. 

While at first these flavors may seem to just appeal to customers, there is a deeper meaning behind each flavor. Chang describes how meaningful stories from him and those around him have inspired his flavors. 

“The Oreo Milk, while others can say it’s Cookies and Cream, it is not. For me, when I was little I would always get a six pack of Oreos with my brother and when I would get home, I would first put an Oreo in a glass of milk and then slowly enjoy the other Oreos slowly dipping them in milk. 

“By the time I was done, the Oreo that I put in the beginning would have disintegrated and I would stir the Oreo in the milk which would make Oreo milk,” Chang said. 

Chang describes how it is fun for him to tell customers the story behind his flavors as it sparks conversations and allows him to have meaningful conversations with others which can be rare due to stay at home orders this past year.

The stay at home order is not the only thing that has resulted from the pandemic, but the loss of jobs has been momentous as well. 

While many are losing their jobs during the pandemic, Chang was able to start his own successful business which came as a shock to many. 

While most would not even consider starting their own business during this time, Chang’s story is an inspirational one. 

Chang describes how, like many others, he lost his job because of the pandemic and because of his loss, he wanted to do something for himself that was meaningful. 

Chang previously worked in marketing and branding and used this knowledge to grow his company. However, despite his hard work, his company let him go because of the pandemic. 

“I want to do something where I am in control and where all the work I put in a company is meaningful to me and not thrown out the bucket like with my previous company,” Chang expressed. He knew that the journey to starting a business was not going to be easy, but with the support of his parents, Chang felt motivated to start Mōr Doughnuts. “During the pandemic, I first started making mochi doughnuts for fun, but after my mom tried it, she really liked it and suggested that I sell it. This surprised me a lot, but with her support and later my dad’s as well, I decided to fully invest in this business.” 

Because of his experience in losing his job, like many Americans this past year, Chang decided to name his business Mōr Doughnuts, not only because he hopes “more” people will come back for his doughnuts, but also because through selling doughnuts, he is able to meet customers personally and have the rare opportunity to have small talk with them which he hopes will make them “more” happy despite the pandemic.

Chang emphasizes how his business is beyond just selling doughnuts, but how his doughnuts can positively impact his customers especially during these difficult times when something as trivial as small talk is treasured. “My business is centered around what more can I do beyond doughnuts through doughnuts because life is more than doughnuts. Through my short interactions with people, or just trying to remember certain things customers like, I hope that through my doughnuts I can bring people happiness despite tough times,” he said. 

Chang is also thinking beyond his current operation. He hopes that if he is successful enough with marketing his own doughnuts, he wants to grow and possibly sell his doughnuts in other small restaurants or cafes to “help bring other small businesses foot traffic” in the midst of this challenging pandemic. 

Chang currently makes all of his doughnuts from home and sells them at his father’s place of business. With Chang’s business becoming increasingly popular and still having a limited number of doughnuts each week, Chang is still waiting for the right time to expand. Currently, Chang is not thinking of expanding the number of doughnuts produced each week because, “[He doesn’t] have [his] own kitchen and since [he][has] to transport the doughnuts, there is a lag time between the freshness of the doughnuts.” 

However, in terms of expanding his company to a permanent location and having more team members, he says, “As long as the opportunity presents itself, the space is right, and the people involved are right, then I am all for it. If expanding is a forced business decision, then I would want to wait to expand.” 

Since Chang’s company is based around having his doughnuts bring people happiness, he explains how he would want to expand his business with people that have similar goals like him instead of expanding to increase his revenue.

Despite the pandemic and the increasing number of businesses shutting down, Chang was successful in launching his own small business featuring mochi doughnuts, something very unique to Santa Barbara. Despite his business still being a pop up right now, it is sure to expand as it becomes increasingly popular.