Dear Donuts in St. Charles has been serving Korean pastries since opening earlier this summer, but it isn’t for the early birds.
The donut shop also aims to provide a late night hang-out for kids and families in the community, and owners say they have worked to create an atmosphere that didn’t exist in St. Charles before.
Dear Donuts is owned by sisters Sue Park and Sophie Kim.
The café, located at 570 S Randall Road, is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day and owners said it was designed to be a safe and relaxing place for kids to come and hang out with friends.
Park said it is a great place for families to get together over boba and soft serve or for students to get a late night caffeine boost and snack while they study.
“I want people to think of this more like a café than a donut shop,” Park said. “I wanted a cozy place where people can feel safe to come to late at night.”
Park said business has been great during the day, but they are looking to bring in a bigger crowd in the evenings. She said Dear Donuts is just about the only alternative to bars, for St. Charles residents looking for a late night hang out.
“I felt like our community didn’t have an asian dessert shop or a place where kids can hang out late at night,” Park said. “I just wanted to offer something new to the community, I guess.”
A long table sits near the front window of the shop, which Kim said is perfect for big groups projects or game nights. Kim said they plan to supply board games and puzzles for anyone to use.
Though this is their first business endeavor, the sisters are no strangers to the community, as their parents own the neighboring restaurant, Mr. Samurai Steak and Sushi.
Growing up in Geneva, Park and Kim both helped out at their parents’ restaurant. While Park said opening her own place was always in the back of her mind, she never expected she would open Dear Donuts so soon.
“There was an opportunity to do it, so I took it with my family,” Park said.
Park said working with her sister is great because they get along so well. She said there are no clear lines between their roles; the two do everything together, from making and tasting new menu ideas to serving and managing the shop.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it if she wasn’t part of it,” Park said. “We’re together 24/7. She’s basically the other half of the brain.”
Kim said their parents often come to help prepare the donuts in the early hours of the morning. Kim said she and Park often work until around 2 a.m. and leave the shop just before their parents arrive at 3 a.m.
Park said everything Dear Donuts serves is made from scratch and their most popular dish is the Korean brioche cream donut. She said the brioche cream donut is very popular in Korea right now, but can’t be found many places in the midwest.
Park said the specialty pastry is very different from the classic cream-filled donuts found in American donut shops.
The Korean brioche donuts go through multiple proofing stages to achieve a much softer texture, and are filled with a hand-whipped cream that is much lighter than custard. Kim said they learned the technique for making them from Korean pastry chefs.
Park said a few customers have driven over an hour to try them, and many have said they are the best donuts they’ve ever had.
The coffee menu offers hot or iced lattes, cappuccinos, and more, sourced by Gaslight Coffee Roasters out of Chicago. They also offer premium lattes like matcha and honey lavender.
Late night guests who aren’t looking for caffeine can get soft serve, bubble tea, chai lattes, smoothies, tea, hot chocolate and Korean corn dogs. Kim said the K-corn dogs and boba have been very popular with the late night crowd.
K-corn dogs are made with your choice of sausage, cheese, or half and half on a stick, battered, fried, and topped with your choice of Hot Cheetos, Fruity Pebbles, Doritos, potatoes or sweet potatoes.
Dear Donuts also sells Asian stationary supplies, as well as Asian art and pottery from local artists. Kim said they decided to sell the supplies because she was tired of driving to Naperville for her own, and wanted them to be available closer to home.