Connect
To Top

Daily Inspiration: Meet Louis Hohl

Today we’d like to introduce you to Louis Hohl.

Hi Louis, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I am the owner of Sweet Dough Cinna-Rolls formerly known as Sweet Dough Cafe. In 2016, my wife and I started an experiment. Armed with a killer cinnamon roll recipe, we set out to determine if an all gourmet Cinnamon Roll Bakery could thrive in the Inland Empire by creating a bold new niche bakery called Sweet Dough Café. We decided to become a vendor at the Upland Lemon Festival and sold our cinnamon rolls to the public for the first time to test the concept. The Festival commission required that we use lemons in all the products sold, so we decided to dress up our cinnamon rolls with lemon curd, blueberry lemon compote and a special lemon cream cheese frosting and BOOM, the different flavored cinnamon roll movement was born and we sold out all three days of the Lemon Festival that year. Foothill Kitchens, the same commercial kitchen we used to bake our Lemon Festival goodies, decided to take a chance on us and incubate our unique idea. The owners were sold on our product and allowed us to set up shop in their commercial kitchen’s small retail space.

During our time in the kitchen, we came up with about 40 different flavored cinnamon rolls through trial and error. The first two months there in 2016 (September and October), we were only open twice a week for 5 hours a day… that didn’t last long. People loved it and the new demand allowed us to gradually extend our hours and days. By January 1st, 2017 we were open six days a week, 11 hours a day and began holding our kid’s baking classes. Our fans soon turned into regulars and we began to develop a pretty strong following, especially for a bakery that rented space out of someone else’s building. We were starting to become somewhat of a foodie destination and a hidden gem in the city of Upland. We outgrew that space and moved into our own small space in the food court of the Victoria Gardens Mall in November 2017. We offered over 80 different varieties of Cinnamon Rolls, Breakfast Sammies, fried chicken sammies, coffee creations and sundaes. We made all of our own frosting and compotes and caramel sauce. We not only offered a plethora of varieties but we also baked and served our rolls in a way that has never been served before. We baked the rolls individually and topped them right in front of the customer with an ice cream scoop of cream cheese frosting and scoops of other sweet toppings. The end result looked like a cinnamon roll muffin topped with ice cream and toppings and was very Instagrammable.

Up to this point, we’ve built our entire following through Instagram and Facebook. The end of 2019 going into 2020, we got hit pretty hard with misfortune and had to close down our store in the mall. We lost all of it but we still had a killer product and a demand. With Covid now making its way through the U.S. we were forced to change everything and instead of hanging up our apron, we decided to pivot in a different direction. We closed the cafe and started Sweet Dough Cinna-Rolls focusing on the core product that garnered the most attention and demand. We had no storefront so we decided to move back into another commercial kitchen and sell directly to the consumer through social media and deliver it right to their door. The response was literally overwhelming and we quickly had a queue of 100’s of orders a week. We would post an order form and the order form would fill up to capacity within an hour! We have been doing this ever since but have now added the ability to pick up orders from the commercial kitchen every Wednesday and Friday mornings. As festivals and events are slowly opening back up, we are again hitting that circuit and showing up at many different street fairs and festivals.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road at all and we are STILL trying to figure it out as we speak. Covid threw a wrench in many of our routines and created a need to be more flexible and willing to operate out of our expertise. We have had to close our location causing us to be in debt the size of Mt Rushmore. We still had to make money to keep us afloat so I looked into going back to my old profession but after crunching the numbers and reading the 100’s of social media messages asking us to make rolls again, I figured it was best to hold out and create a new entity to try and meet the new demand. Also, I am now a one man band and I am doing everything myself. Marketing, baking, pop ups, calls, purchasing the whole nine, it’s all me. I do have hired drivers that help me deliver but thats it. I have to keep costs down.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
My family bakery specializes in creating over 80 different varieties of Gourmet Cinna-Rolls like our Peach Cobbler Cinna-Roll with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, pie crust, spiced peach compote and chopped pecans and our Elvis Presley Cinna-Roll stuffed with banana, topped with our Original cream cheese frosting, house made caramel sauce, peanut butter and chopped peanuts. We make all of our own frosting and compotes and caramel sauce in house and rotate our flavors monthly to customers coming back for more. We serve our customers through community pop ups, festivals, street fairs and markets and local pickup. We also provide catering, home/office deliveries, corporate orders, and amazingly lucrative fundraisers!

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
We have learned that anything can happen at any time, anywhere and you are either going to sink with the broken boat or pick up the pieces and build a new one to stay afloat. Tragedy and despair are all right around the corner so we’ve learned to appreciate what we have everyday and to live life like there is no tomorrow.

Pricing:

  • Original and Vanilla Bean Glazed Rolls – $5.50
  • Assorted Cinna Rolls – $6.50
  • Cinna-Jars (Now Available for Nationwide Shipping) $8-$10 each plus shipping

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Louis Hohl

Suggest a Story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in