By Victoria Kidd
Photos by Lauri Bridgeforth
It’s an unnecessary food, really. Sweet fried dough— often coated with a sugary glaze and formed into a circular shape before its center is removed—does not serve a nutritional purpose, after all. Nonetheless, the doughnut is a food with a following, and doughnut connoisseurs have welcomed the sweet offerings of Front Royal’s Naughty Girls Donut Shop, located in the Riverton Commons Retail Center.
Owner Tiana Ramos, a high school junior at the time the store opened, runs the store with the assistance of her parents, Natalie and Miguel Ramos. The store is a true experiment in entrepreneurship for Tiana, but it’s also a proving ground for some of her classmates as the shop is fully managed by high school students. It all started with a simple confession. The young Ramos had been mulling over her future, and she told to her parents that she wanted to be a pastry chef. Natalie and Miguel, both having professional training and experience in the food industry, put plans into action to help her get a taste of sweet success.
“The Naughty Girls idea was a joke,” Tiana relays. “When I worked at the hospital volunteering they called me ‘Naughty Girl,’ because of my tattoos.” She says her hospital colleagues would capitalize on her desire to make great food by applying her nickname to their requests for “naughty treats.” The request would be the topic of numerous family discussions. “My mom use to joke with me about opening up a bakery and calling it Naughty Girls Bake Shop. We never thought it would actually come to pass.”
But it did. The store opened its first location in June of 2014. Their following has grown well beyond the borders of Front Royal, and there are even rumors that the team may be being courted for a reality television show. All of that success is the product of a young entrepreneur who spent years perfecting a vision. On the Naughty Girls website Tiana is quoted as saying, “Once I decided to go for it, everything came together so quickly. I realized that I had been considering it for so long that I had already made most of the decisions.”
Tiana applied her affinity for the glamorous pin-up style of the 1940s to the restaurant’s theme. It’s a style that capitalizes on the “naughty” premise while also positioning her venture as alternative to the common nationally recognized brands. Uniforms, décor, color schemes, and virtually every other aspect of the shop has been carefully considered to make sure customers step into an atmosphere that sets a very specific mood. The mood serves Tiana’s purpose by further exemplifying the subtle seduction the doughnut has.
While posters of Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page allure customers with their iconic images, doughnuts covered in everything from bacon to M&Ms entreat guests to temporarily forget about the calories. Forget about the sugar. Just indulge. The parallel between the seductive attraction of the 1940s pin-ups and the uniqueness of Tiana’s offerings is not accidental. It’s what Naughty Girls refers to as “wholesome naughtiness.”
The menu behind that wholesome naughtiness was originally developed by Tiana, and she has been perfecting it ever since. Her family has been the lucky beneficiaries of the research and development necessary for the business to continually innovate their menu. “I would make doughnuts for my family nearly every day,” Tiana says. “It was all trial and error. Now we just keep experimenting, and if I like a combination, we put it in the shop. Like honey, avocado, and Oreo. You would have thought that would be a bad combination, right? Well, it worked on a chocolate doughnut perfectly.”
Her efforts don’t stop with doughnuts. The shop offers specialty breakfast and lunch items as well, and even a product line she calls “drunken doughnuts.” As the name implies, this line available to patrons 21 and over. If you have a special flavor in mind, order a hot doughnut and customize it with your choice of toppings. Between the doughnut flavors offered on any particular day and the wide variety available through customizations, the shop has gained a following.
Integral to that following is their “community mindset,” as they call it. Discounts are offered to seniors, U.S. servicemen and women, students, and individuals out supporting local businesses. Tiana believes in “buying local,” and supports local producers and nearby businesses when possible.
To her, these aren’t just good business practices. They are part of truly being a member of the community one serves, and she sees the shop as a means of furthering the message (and her mantra) that “being different is okay.”
“I am interested in giving back because that is why God gave me the shop,” she explains. “I was given the shop to deliver a message that it’s okay to be different, and it’s okay not to fit in. You can still make change in the world, and God will still use you, even if it is by way of a doughnut!”
It’s a message designed to counteract the negative response concerning the Naughty Girl name Tiana reported having received early on in her venture. The shop’s story has been covered extensively in the media, and word of the little shop in Front Royal has been spread far and wide online. The press worked to her advantage, disseminating the story of the youthful entrepreneur and her goods to a now national audience. At the time of this article, the Naughty Girls Facebook page has more than 18,000 likes, an astounding achievement for such a young business.
According to Tiana, the voices of those few anonymous dissenters have only hardened her resolve to grow her business and offer the public a place accepting of all. If you are a lover of the circular sweetness offered up by the shop, you would find a warm welcome at Naughty Girls Donuts.
To view their competitively priced menu and learn more, call 540-636-3313 or visit www.naughtygirlsdonutshop.com. (For a real treat, like them on Facebook, where you’ll have a chance to weigh in on discussions about new flavors and toppings choices!)