Little Bite of Heaven 7

Paradise Donuts has become Fort Worth’s go-to for gourmet donuts.

As a career social worker, Melissa Gradel nurtured a secret dream: the desire to break out on her own, and spread smiles and cheer through the purveyance of sugared confections. For many people, owning a bakery seems like ‘paradise’. You set your own hours, you spend days surrounded by iced and sugary goodies; and the localvore movement has even created a larger market for homegrown and creative enterprises, including bakeries like Melissa’s Paradise Donuts.

“I’m a retired social worker, and spent 26 years doing that at a large corporation,” says Melissa of her pre-sugar dusted days. “I always told myself that I wanted a donut shop. I wanted to see people smile.”

For Melissa, and practically everyone else, the appeal of donuts is obvious. Along with ice cream, donuts are a universally beloved treat open to a broad range of interpretations.

“Donuts are year round,” says Melissa. “You have decorating themes, and can create new things. It’s limitless, basically, what you can do with a donut.”

The Donut Game

The concept of the ‘gourmet donut’ may have seemed strange a few years ago. Not so anymore, as bakeries have popped up around the country that seemingly try to outdo one another with creations piled high with everything from bacon to candy bars. Paradise takes this creative tendency to another level of taste and quality, however, and combines its sugary offerings with savory confections such as kolaches and sausage rolls.

The first pastry delectable to receive a posh makeover was the cupcake. Next, it was the macaroon that became the sophisticated choice of the discerning glutton, appearing everywhere from pop-up shops to fashion shows. Now, however, the humble doughnut has taken a step into the limelight. At Paradise Donuts, this spotlight shines brighter than perhaps anywhere else, and makes the bakery an ideal choice for someone who has yet to experience the joy of a gourmet donut.

For those who don’t quite understand the craze, consider this: a beloved childhood treat, transformed with fashionable topping and stylish fillings, into an epicurean experience. Most likely you’ve become familiar with this phenomenon already in the freezer aisle of your grocery store. Before Ben & Jerry’s got all wacky on us, ice cream was pretty much limited to the triumvirate of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.

Gourmet donuts now sell everywhere from festivals to food trucks, independent bakeries and expensive restaurants. The doughnuts themselves get crafted from high-end dough, then topped with special glazes and toppings to emphasize color and playfulness. More than any other business, the rise of Krispy Kreme can be credited with the mainstream acceptance of the speciality donut phenomenon. While Krispy Kreme remains clearly a fast-food enterprise, available in gas stations around the country, independent bakers such as Melissa have elevated the donut to a pure art form.

Paradise Itself

At Paradise Donuts, located just north of White Settlement along the Jim Wright Freeway access road, you step into a little corner of confectionery heaven. Monday through Saturday, 5:30am to 11:30am, you can find the hot, fresh baked goods, created on a daily basis, that have enraptured Melissa’s growing clientele.

“We probably do 240 donuts a day,” says Melissa. “We do specialties, the standard glazed and cake, cinnamon rolls, sausage rolls, and gourmet. We tell people that if they want to try something, we’re willing to create it. We’ll do anything anyone wants to try.”

Paradise Donuts also delivers, and has contracts with local companies to provide donuts for employees. With only a day’s notice, Paradise Donuts can provide treats for your next meeting or special occasion. The full menu, available online at, reveals a cornucopia of tempting pastries: glazed, chocolate, chocolate banana and sprinkles; chocolate and blueberry cake; old-fashioned style vanilla, chocolate, blueberry, and strawberry; long johns, twists, apple fritters, and fried pies; gourmet selections that change on a daily basis; and larger items such as the kolache meal, big sausage roll, or 1/2 pound breakfast burrito, which combines sausage, eggs, gravy, potatoes, onions, green chiles and tomatoes in a savory wrap. Regardless of your tastes, Paradise has something for everyone.

“We’re big fans of customer service, and we want to get to know you and your tastes,” says Melissa. “A donut is limited only by the imagination. When you taste one of ours, you’re tasting a little bit of heaven.”