For Bilstad’s Beignets, it all started right in the heart of the pandemic.
“Everybody was stuck at home and the neighbors within our HOA were doing little things to cheer each other up — cookouts and things of that nature,” explains Scott Bilstad.
So Bilstad and his wife, Jenny, decided they were going to make beignets. And those beignets were a hit.
“Our HOA management company has other sister companies and suddenly the other communities wanted us to do it for them, too, and that was when we realized we were on to something,” Bilstad says.
Bilstad started an LLC in early 2020 and began selling warm, fresh beignets at local farmers markets, breweries, and wineries.
While Bilstad’s Beignets may have started off a bit unconventionally, Bilstad says being an entrepreneur in the food industry has always been a dream of his.
“I have a restaurant background and this kind of gave me an opportunity that I never would have thought of,” he says. “I never thought I could do something with just beignets, but it actually makes a lot of sense. It’s unique. It’s niche, and it gets enough foot traffic.”
Bilstad learned how to bake in the Navy.
“I had a good fellow shipmate of mine who taught me how to make doughnuts,” he says. “I took that recipe and tweaked it a bit to make my own version of beignets.”
Bilstad describes a beignet as a square-shaped French doughnut.
“Growing up, I was always a big fan of Krispy Kreme,” he explains, adding that he uses a similar flavor profile as that signature glaze, utilizing a simple syrup mixture with powdered sugar and a little bit of ginger.
When he decided to start the business, Bilstad says he did a lot of research into how to produce a fried beignet that would absorb less oil and add more of a shelf life to it. His beignets now can last up to two days on the counter or be frozen to enjoy later.
“We have instructions on our website for how to reheat them as well,” Bilstad adds.
The beignets can be ordered in groups of three, six, or 12 or in a flight of half a dozen with three dipping sauces — strawberry five spice, fudgy chocolate, and pomegranate buttercream.
Bilstad’s Beignets also serves hot coffee and cold brew from local company Joan + Joe Coffee.
“They do the whole 12-hour process and it’s just really good and refreshing coffee,” Bilstad says.
The Bilstad’s Beignets brick-and-mortar location opened in October in Ashburn, and Bilstad says the reception has been great.
“The first week, we ran out a few times,” he says. “If you’re thinking of coming after 1 p.m., you may want to give us a call to make sure we have some. That’s kind of how we want to operate. Sort of ‘first come, first serve’ like an old school BBQ restaurant.”
Bilstad’s Beignets is open Wednesday–Sunday from 8 a.m.–3 p.m. or until they sell out. 20937 Ashburn Rd., Ashburn
Megan Herr is an editor and writer residing in the Shenandoah Valley. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Penn State University.
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