The owners of Tandem Doughnuts give us a bite of their sweet wheels
The words vegan and doughnut aren’t likely neighbors in the same sentence. For some, they’re hardly a pair, but for Beth Gherlein they’re a necessity—one that Missoula was without before she and her husband, David Tyson, brought Tandem Doughnuts, a wholesale vegan and gluten-free bakery, into existence in 2011.
It began passionately, when Beth had a craving that she couldn’t fill. She and David journeyed around Missoula to sniff out a vegan doughnut, but little did they know they would bring this desired treat to their community and, with it, a sweet option for those with dietary restrictions or personal preferences regarding sustainability and environmental practices.
Having extensive experience in overseas travel and ethnic foods, Beth and David set out, right in their own backyard, to create the perfect recipe that would forge its way through the Missoula food scene, and they did. These doughnuts come by way of fluffy, delicious wheels—huckleberry with huckleberry glaze, lavender lemon, sweet potato pie with spicy cream cheese glaze, and cinnamon (Beth’s favorite), among many others.
Initially, Beth and David worked other full-time jobs, baking during their days off until Beth took the plunge and quit her day job to prepare for public sale at the Clark Fork Farmers Market. From sharing their creations with the community on Saturday mornings to working the full production of their doughnuts at a local commercial kitchen for wholesale, Beth and David know, and have touched, every facet of their business—nurturing it and raising it from its humble face-to-face beginning.
“Meeting new customers at the market, having them return each week, then running into them out in the community was so rewarding,” said David.
“Honestly, one of the best parts of my job is hearing from customers who were able to eat something we made that they have missed for years,” said Beth. “In terms of our business, we think of ourselves as a bakery that creates beautiful and delicious treats for folks who might otherwise not be able to eat those foods, whether those restrictions are by choice or genetics. So in this sense, the vegan aspect of our business goes hand-in-hand, or in tandem, with the gluten-free side of things.”
In tandem isn’t a foreign concept to Beth and David. Their bakery name comes from their mutual enjoyment of riding their tandem bicycle and the idea of working together, which in turn has given them both a sweetened sense of what it takes to make a business and relationship work.
“When one is tired, the other keeps going, but pedaling together is the most productive energy,” said Beth.
Two years ago, they added Beatrice to their sweet success—a doughnut-loving daughter who will hopefully enjoy bike riding, too.
“I see her making local deliveries on her bicycle when she gets a little older,” said David. “I sometimes wonder what her memories will be as she grows,” said David. “She’s with us on all our errands. One of her first words was Costco because we were there buying supplies for the bakery so much.” Her very first word? Doughnut, of course.
Beth and David are excited and grateful to raise their daughter in Missoula. The community is filled with individuals and companies that have helped Tandem Doughnuts grow, and the energy is positive.
“We had so much encouragement and support from this town right from the start,” said Beth. “Even though this business might work well in other communities, I just can’t imagine being anywhere else. It’s fun to be creative and independent in such a supportive community.”
“There are so many amazing people in the growing food scene in Missoula, a lot of really smart, creative individuals. It’s a great place to be a part of that. And it’s so cool that people here are so receptive to some of the wacky flavors we try,” said David.
Beth and David’s dream is to expand Tandem Doughnuts, adding regional accounts and eventually opening their own retail space. Until then, we’ll find their doughnuts dotted throughout our community and beyond, like a tasty trail of all the places where these little wheels have spun.