Early mornings, loading a van, setting up a farmer’s market tent in the cold, heat, rain and sun. The first Hero Doughnuts outpost was a shared commercial kitchen where founder Will Drake’s 2-day process of making brioche style, yeast doughnuts started. Fresh fruit cooked down and mixed into glazes and fillings, topped with crunchy nuts, streusel, chocolate and sprinkles became the expression of joy that customers feel when they taste our doughnuts. What started as a “pop-up” grew into a market stall where folks liked up and the doughnuts sold out regularly. It became evident that doughnuts matter--they bring people together, spark joy and satisfy our cravings with more than just sugar.
Hero Doughnuts and Buns is now a restaurant that continues to evolve with fun, satisfying sandwiches, salads and treats. Will Drake wants to make folks happy and it’s his earnest effort of not compromising quality and his commitment to hard work that has elevated Hero Doughnuts and Buns to its cherished place in the Birmingham community with plans to spread the joy throughout the land.
Founder and innovative mind behind Hero Doughnuts and Buns, Wil Drake is a Birmingham boy with a desire to do good work and make life joyful. A former professional drummer, Wil learned early that discipline and creativity produce a beautiful result and whether he is playing music or cooking, the steps to success are the same. He has worked in many restaurants--flipped hamburgers, frothed coffee, baked bread and decorated cakes. His knack for lifting folks from life’s troubles was honed when he once worked to create happy, healthy meals for those suffering from eating disorders. Wil traveled to Ireland to study whole-animal butchery and came back to the States with a refreshed view of what serving great food can do for a community.
Partnering with friend and photographer, Jason Wallis, Hero Doughnuts garnered a cult following through their pop-up stands and farmer’s market stalls. In 2017 Wallis and Drake teamed up with the Pihakis Restaurant Group to open their first Hero Doughnuts and Buns store in Homewood, Alabama. The menu has expanded to include savory offerings and a growing roster of devoted customers fills the space. Plans are now underway for stores in Trussville, AL and Atlanta, GA.
“Family” takes on many forms and we love to see all family variations inside our shop. Every day at Hero Doughnuts and Buns there are co-workers meeting, friends talking, solo diners enjoying a book or working all while energetic children frolic in the space. These kids give us joy and renew our energy. They help us to do better and be better. We offer food that spreads happiness and celebrates victories like good behavior, high marks at school, accomplishments that no matter how small or large, build up to create good character. Hero customers are our family and we celebrate you.