Dining With Denise Neil

New owners of Wichita’s Hurts Donut making changes, plotting east-side return

Since it first opened in 2015, the Hurts Donut at 7010 W. 21st has been a place to order a giant doughnut topped with a mountain of colorful, crazy and sweet toppings.

But the shop just got new owners, and they have another plan. They’ll soon be turning Hurts into a doughnut shop that also sells fancy coffee drinks (previously, Hurts had just drip coffee) and they hope it will become a place where people come and linger.

“It will be a place where you don’t just run in and grab a doughnut but a place where you grab your laptop and study, a place to hang out and play board games,” said Aaron Courtney, who just bought the store with his wife, Jenni, and his father-in-law, Danny Park.

Last summer, Trista Patterson and her family put their two local Hurts Donut shops up for sale, saying that running the businesses had become too intense since they also had young families. The group had opened the west-side store in 2015, followed by a shop at 3750 N. Woodlawn in 2016. Before they found a buyer, they closed the east-side store, and it’s since become a second location of The Donut Whole.

Jenni and Aaron Courtney watched the developments closely. The couple, both Wichita natives, were attending college in Springfield, Missouri, when the first Hurts Donut opened there in 2013, and they were regular customers.

The Courtneys were back in Wichita and both working full-time jobs — Jenni as the treasurer for the city of Valley Center and Aaron as a compliance officer at Fidelity Bank — when they learned the Wichita Hurts were for sale.

“We actually saw an ad on Facebook about Hurts being for sale several months prior to us even being interested,” Jenni said. “We thought it was really cool but we weren’t sure we were ready to take the plunge and be full-time small business owners.”

Last fall, though, they contacted the Pattersons, and the deal was made. They took possession of the store about two weeks ago.

Their goal now is to focus on getting to know the business and taking care of their customers. Both are now working full-time at the shop, which is open 24 hours.

“There was definitely some quality issues in the past, and so that’s something we’re really focusing on,” Aaron said. “We want it to be a destination doughnut shop. We want our doughnuts to be very exciting and very fresh. We’re focused on, ‘How can we make this the best experience possible for our customers?’”

Their new coffee menu will include all the espresso drinks available at big coffee shops plus some signature drinks designed to match some of Hurts most famous doughnuts. They’re thinking of a cinnamon sugar latte with a caramel drizzle that will be based off of their famous Jesus doughnut, for example.

The new owners also are working on a more efficient system for their drive-through window, and soon, they’ll have an artist add a big Wichita mural to the east side of the building.

Once they have a handle on the business, the Courtneys said, they plan to start eying expansion. Their plans include eventually reopening a Hurts store on the east-side of Wichita, and they also want to branch out into some other cities in Kansas.

Hurts Donut, founded by Valley Center native Kas Clegg, now has 20 stores across the central United States.

Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.