A fresh donut is a glorious thing, but Faith Ko, the owner of Flower Mound’s own Sara Donuts, can satisfy anybody’s craving for a fresh, custom-made donut.
You read that right, custom-made. Got a hankering for a gluten-free strawberry shortcake glazed donut? Done. Oh, you like Greek yogurt. Done. Crème brûlée, red velvet, salty caramel? No problem. Maple bacon and s’mores flavored icings don’t faze the energetic southern Denton County entrepreneur.
Color and texture begin a customer’s Sara Donuts experience. The homey store is unique from its eye-catching marigold yellow front door with the big oval window, and pale yellow woodwork around sidelights, to its bright interior decorated with Ko family art works.
Several of her children are good illustrators who have brought amusing donut characters to life on the walls. There are other drawings and paintings well worth perusing.
The atmosphere comes alive with employees’ ebullient good cheer, and of course the irresistible fresh bakery smells envelope the place.
“By the time I figured out I wanted to become a pastry chef, I was married and had four children,” Ko said. “I didn’t have time for the lengthy schooling. Then my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, and I wanted a way to help with his medical expenses. The chance to buy Sara’s came up, and that’s how I got into the donut business which is a creative mix of baking arts I enjoy.”
The business competition is fierce, but Faith, whose customers call her Sara, found a niche.
“I like pretty pastries and a pretty shop.”
She ignored the one-size-fits-all franchise business model, and developed 50 unique donut varieties, and store décor that is a warm fuzzy wake up call. If you want to settle into a pair of cozy upholstered chairs to share donuts and coffee with your honey, go ahead, and watch the world wake up outside from a small umbrella’d table inside Sara’s front window. Garlands of paper flowers busy-up the ceiling above the other colorful tables and chairs around the room. Step up to the counter, choose a tasty delight then find a seat, and munch away.
“About the time I was born my father inherited some buildings in Seoul, Korea.” Unfortunately ownership papers were lost, and it took two decades of litigation to straighten the matters out. “When it was over my father sold everything. He wanted to go somewhere else for a new start in life.”
Many years before, his sister had married a Texan of Korean ancestry, and she had become a Texan as well. Faith’s Dad followed his sister, and soon after high school graduation Faith and her family immigrated across the Pacific Ocean. The rest of the tale — as they say — is history.
“I’ve lived here for 30 years now, and I have extended family all over the country,” she says with a slight Asian pronunciation. “I learned basic English in school in Korea, but the two languages are very different grammatically.” It took a lot of practice to become fluent in her adopted language, but young people have an easier time making that shift than older men and women, and Faith was a natural.
“In Korean the same word can have many meanings. You have to listen to where it is placed in the sentence. The words on both sides of it tell you what it means.”
The Lone Star State owns her heart.
“My auntie in Philadelphia invited me there for a visit, and that’s where I met my husband.” She brought him back to suburban Fort Worth.
“We lived in North Richland Hills, but went to a Korean church over here. I decided when it came time to move, we’d get closer to church, and that’s how we arrived in this part of town,” she said.
The Kos reared their son and three daughters in Flower Mound. The oldest children are students at the University of Texas at Dallas, and the girls are part-time employees at Sara Donuts.
“I have two full-time employees, my baker and me.” The baker arrives at work around 1 a.m. seven days a week. “He prepares the dough and the undecorated donuts, kolaches, and breakfast burritos. I come in around 3:30 a.m. to make the icings and decorate
The other employees come in when the shop opens at 5:30 a.m., and work their shift until closing time at noon. Her sister pinch hits from time to time.
If customers make breakfast plans after midnight they can call 469-939-0021 and leave a takeout order by voice message or text. How’s that for value-added service?
Walk into the shop, and it’s hard to miss the soothing background music. It is unlikely you will hear anything similar elsewhere. Why?
“I got interested in classical guitar music about the time I came to the States.”
The classical repertoire is mostly defined by the absence of jazz and rock’n’roll sounds.
“I’m a Spanish guitarist at heart,” she said.
Faith is a Pepe Romero fan. She likes Andres Segovia, and non-Spanish guitarists Christopher Parkening and Ana Vidovic. She takes time out of her busy life for lessons from Christopher Maguire of Carrollton, and Michael Daily of Fort Worth.
“Playing the guitar is what I do for relaxation.” She nodded toward a guitar and its case both hanging on the wall near the store cash register.
What does Faith Ko think about life’s adventure?
“Five years ago I had three goals, to make pastries, to perform as a classical guitarist, and to help my father. Overnight my dad’s illness changed everything” she said. “I thought my dreams had disappeared for good.
“I discovered giving up on dreams is a dumb idea. Never give up, keep going, because nobody knows what’s going to happen. I had to be flexible, but look at me! I have fun with the donut shop, I have a couple of terrific guitar teachers, and my Dad’s lung cancer went into remission.”
Faith posts photos of each day’s creations on her Facebook site, saradoughnuts.
“There are lots of Sara’s Donuts shops in the U.S. so you have to be sure to type flower mound with your online inquiry to get our store,” Faith added.
The address of the store is 2201 Long Prairie Road, Suite 113. It’s near the northwest corner of the intersection of FM 2499 and Flower Mound Road.
Contact Noelle at [email protected]