Sonny and Jocelyn DeCarlo spent a lot of time searching for the best vegan doughnuts in the Valley before they eventually decided to take matters into their own hands.
They’re making them themselves.
They hope to open SoJo’s Donuts on the southwest corner of Alma School and Guadalupe roads in Mesa later this month.
Using the first two letters of their first names for the bakery’s name, the couple will sell vegan specialty doughnuts and pastries as well as cakes and a breakfast sandwich with veggie bacon or veggie ham that can be topped onto a donut for an extra buck.
Setting up shop in Mesa was a no brainer. Sonny has long felt a need for more vegan options in Mesa. He found this out while working at Green, a vegan restaurant in Tempe.
“Anytime people would walk in, they would say ‘We need something like this in Mesa,’” said Sonny. “That’s all you would hear.”
Before the two met, Jocelyn trained at the French Pastry School in Chicago, Illinois. When she finished, she moved back to the Valley to be closer to her family and got a job as a bartender at the Palo Verde Lounge.
There, she met Sonny, who became
Five years after their first encounter, they’re getting ready to open SoJo’s Donuts in what was once the home of other bakeries in a strip mall anchored by a Safeway supermarket.
“We couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” said Jocelyn DeCarlo. “The place was fully built out.”
SoJo’s Donuts will have the classic doughnuts one would expect at a regular bakery, but they’ll also be experimenting with new recipes.
Jocelyn suggests that customers try their maple bacon, which includes rice paper bacon that will be made in-house. They will also have a prickly-pear doughnut shaped like a cactus and a flaming hot “Peetos” doughnut – a vegan version of Cheetos.
“It’s fun to try different things, especially now that we have the shop,” said Sonny. “We can just do what we want.”
The couple will also provide sugar-free and gluten-free options on their menu.
While the main goal of this business is to sell doughnuts, the DeCarlos are also looking to showcase local art around their space.
“We have so many friends that do great art,” said Sonny DeCarlo. “It would be nice to bring that in such an open environment.”
They hope to do an art exchange when they open. Customers will be able to take art pieces from the wall, but in return, they will have to put one of their own pieces.
They are not when they will start doing this because they’re cautious about the COVID pandemic. They’re also skipping a grand opening to avoid spreading the virus.
“Once things get kind of back to normal, we’ll do a second grand opening,” said Jocelyn DeCarlo.
SoJo’s will brew coffee from Alchemy Roasters, which is also based in Mesa. The DeCarlos hope to keep their resources as local as they can.
With the bakery, Sonny and Jocelyn hope to spread happiness – and doughnuts – to as many people as possible throughout Mesa and the Valley.
“Spread vegan everywhere,” said Sonny DeCarlo. “We don’t need to just keep it in Tempe and Phoenix.”