Before Amanda Pizarro Rodriguez and Andy Rodriguez tied the knot in 2017 (after meeting on Match.com in 2013), they bonded over their mutual love of doughnuts. The pair traveled to New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Portland to visit the country’s most crave-worthy doughnut spots like Sidecar, The Doughnut Project, Dough, and Voodoo Doughnuts.
They didn’t know then that they would eventually open The Salty—and expand to locations across three states. It’s hard to imagine, but Amanda can recall a time when she was “in awe that artisanal doughnuts were even a thing.” The big epiphany came while she and Andy were visiting Portland, Oregon, in 2014. “The first thing we searched for was the best doughnut shop, Blue Star Donuts,” she says. “We kept the doughnuts for like four days, which you aren’t supposed to do, but we didn’t know.”
Not only did the pair realize that artisanal doughnuts were “a thing,” they also realized they had the potential to be money makers. “There were lines outside with not much seating and often no coffee,” says Andy, who knows a thing or two about the importance of coffee—his grandfather owned a handful of Cuban cafés in Miami. “[Amanda and I] realized after sitting in various shops over time that this could become a real business, and we wanted to revolutionize it.”
That’s when inspiration struck. “Nobody had married craft artisan doughnuts with great coffee options and a beautiful space,” Andy notes. Add to that a community vibe: “We wanted to create a place where you could celebrate a birthday, just feel good, or meet someone for a first date,” says Amanda. And they wanted to do it in Miami, where they were raised.
As a child, Amanda had run a small cake-making business out of her parents’ Weston home, but she and Andy needed input from a trained chef to make their dream a reality. Enter pastry consultant Max Santiago, who signed on in late 2015 to develop recipes for what would become The Salty.
Two months later, Andy and Amanda maxed out their credit cards and got financial support from friends and family to launch The Salty out of a 1950s Aljoa camper in a Wynwood parking lot during Art Basel. Their scratch-made sweet treats and craft coffee offerings attracted Miamians, who lined up around the block to get their hands on four-inch doughnuts in six flavors—including traditional glazed (with a Tahitian vanilla bean coating), guava and cheese (topped with cookie crumbles), and maple bacon (crafted with candied bacon from Miami Smokers and a porter beer reduction from Wynwood-based J. Wakefield Brewing).
That first weekend, The Salty crew made hundreds of doughnuts and sold out in just a few hours—a pattern that continued for six months. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, customers would queue up well before the truck’s 11 a.m. opening time, waiting anywhere from one to one-and-a-half hours to purchase doughnuts that cost $4 to $6 a piece. Soon, the nearby shared commercial kitchen Amanda and Andy used to produce their wares couldn’t keep up with demand. In May 2016, The Salty opened its own kitchen in Little Haiti, allowing the team to double production.
That same year, Andy and Amanda opened their first brick-and-mortar store in Wynwood to serious fanfare and more lines around the block. Today, The Salty boasts Florida locations in Miami, West Palm Beach’s The Square, and Orlando, plus three in Texas, one in Atlanta, and one in North Carolina. Expansion is in the works: A Coconut Grove outpost, two Tampa locations, and two new Atlanta-area stores are opening later this year. Pastry chef Audrey Scheib leads doughnut innovations, working closely with Andy and Amanda to direct flavor testing and recipe creation across the brand. Each location of The Salty features its own chef and sous chef—guaranteeing chef-made doughnut offerings that showcase the freshest local ingredients and are tailored to each community. All that effort is getting the brand noticed, too: Thrillist recently named The Salty one of the “31 Best Doughnut Shops in America.”
Amanda and Andy believe it’s the emphasis on family and community that has made The Salty such a success. Since they each grew up in homes filled with food, family, and fun, they know how important a meal is to making people feel full—in both their hearts and their bellies. As they do when running The Salty, the couple divides duties at their South Florida home when entertaining guests: Amanda handles logistics while Andy is all about the food.
“I do step into the kitchen to play sous chef to Andy when needed,” she says. “But my main responsibility is the party experience, vibe, decor, and music, just like at The Salty. I love to collect candles, antique vases, and every color of linen napkin. I am like my own catering store.”
At a recent family affair at their Spanish Mediterranean home, Andy prepared the food and Amanda designed the decor with a happy color scheme of purples and pastels. “I wanted a very upbeat table setting,” she says of her arrangements of ranunculus, lisianthus, and spray roses.
Guests noshed on signature baked goods and an assortment of blueberry tarts from The Salty, plus layered ham and cheese rolls paired with Chartogne-Taillet Le Rosé Brut Champagne. “We try to be adventurous and push people to try new food and wine that they never have had before,” Andy says.
Andy prepared miso Caesar salad with furikake doughnut croutons, sous vide heirloom Iberico pork chops marinated in shio koji and finished on the hearth, and acorn squash with yogurt, pomegranate, garden herbs, and warm honey. As they ate, guests sipped a 2006 Pernand-Vergelesses Premier Cru by Domaine-Rapet and a 2010 Mayacamas Vineyards Chardonnay. Dessert included doughnuts, of course, plus warm brown butter chocolate chip cookies served with The Salty’s famous coffee.
Danny Pizarro, Amanda’s brother and the chief marketing officer for The Salty, says coming to a party in his sister’s home is always a good time. “Put your party pants on here,” he says, laughing. Amanda agrees. “We like to be funky and creative when we entertain, and we always put family first. Any excuse for a get-together is good for us.”