Siblings Minh and Loan Nguyen had longed to break into the thriving dessert market in Orange County and even knew what they wanted to serve: churros.
But how does one put a unique spin on a tried-and-true concept — the ubiquitous slender, deep-fried pastry?
For them, the answer was even more sugar and spice and everything nice. (Think cookies, cereal and ice cream.)
The Fountain Valley siblings teamed up with friend and marketer Jed Cartojano to open the Loop Handcrafted Churros in Westminster's Little Saigon in June.
"The dessert scene in Orange County is just insane," said Cartojano, 32, of Westminster. "It was all about figuring out what we needed to do to Americanize something as common as a churro and make it more unique. Right now, a lot of food places are all about customization."
He also added that many churros are sold out of carts, and he believes this is one of the first times a brick-and-mortar, churro-focused shop has opened, at least in Orange County.
Minh Nguyen, 26, said churros have been gaining popularity in Asian countries like South Korea and Singapore, which also inspired him and his sister to open the Loop.
The churros, which are about 14 inches long and shaped in loops, can be dipped in flavors like caramel, strawberry, matcha or Nutella for $3.50.
They can also be coated with a sweet glaze and topped with foods like almonds, crushed Oreos and Fruity Pebbles cereal for $4.50.
For those with an even bigger sweet tooth, they can add vanilla soft serve to the mix. So far, that combination, which costs $5.50, has been the most popular on the menu because of the summer heat, said Minh Nguyen.
"We wanted it to be customizable so people who liked their churros sweeter can have it that way, and if people don't like them as sweet, they can also order them like that," said Loan Nguyen, 32.
Jasmine iced tea, Thai tea and coffee are also sold.
Lines out the door are typical, especially at night, Cartojano said. The shop at 9729 Bolsa Ave. is open until 11 p.m. or midnight, depending on the night of the week.
"In Orange County, late-night dessert is where it's at, but we are usually always pretty busy," Cartojano said.
Sometimes the wait can be up to an hour — "like waiting for a ride at Disneyland," but it's worth it, he added.
The churros are made fresh around the clock, which also helps get the cinnamon and sugar to stick.
First comes the dough, made without eggs for a crunchier outside texture. Then it's prepped for about 30 minutes before getting fried for three minutes.
Cartojano said it was also key to create food that not only tasted good but was also attractive to the eyes and camera.
"It's just the nature of where things are going right now," said Cartojano, who runs the Instagram account @dailyfoodfeed, which has more than 318,000 followers.
"It was definitely important for us to make sure this product was good. There's only so much you can do with something that Instagram-able and not good, and something that's actually of value."