Growing up, Brian Zoubek was always enamored with a bakery in his hometown of Haddonfield, N.J. that he believed made its products in a unique way.
Now quite the grownup, standing at 7-foot-1, the former Duke center has called basketball quits and is using that childhood inspiration to start a bakery of his own—“Dream Puffz.”
“My plan is to bring my brand of cream puff to the world,” Zoubek said. “We do them a little bit smaller, the shell is a little bit softer than usual, and we have unique, fresh and natural ingredients.”
Following his senior year and the team’s national championship in 2010, Zoubek initially tried to make the NBA. After going undrafted and dabbling in professional basketball over that summer, he then worked on a technology project with a few other people.
But the aroma of cream puffs beckoned, eventually luring him to begin his own venture, with his first Dream Puffz set to open in Haddonfield less than a month from now. It required investing his own money into the project, in addition to a contribution from his parents, but he now has plans to bring the project to New York City, as well.
Zoubek is working with a young chef from Philadelphia, but said he can also make the cream puffs himself.
“I couldn’t just sit at a desk and work at a computer. I wanted to do something more hands-on,” Zoubek said. “I’ve got the entrepreneurial kick. I’ll be doing that the rest of my life no matter what happens with this [individual project].”
His former teammates are also getting a kick out of his venture, as many assembled at the Krzyzewski Center for Athletic Excellence for the 10th annual K Academy, Duke basketball’s five-day fantasy camp that began Wednesday.
Nolan Smith, who now plays for the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA and played at Duke with Zoubek for three seasons, said he plans to tease his former teammate, though he is confident Zoubek will be successful.
“I haven’t [given him grief] yet. I’m going to though,” Smith said. “I’m excited for him. He’s a great guy with a great mind.”
Jon Scheyer played all four years with Zoubek and, after playing basketball in Israel this past year, is back working out and trying to compete stateside. Although separated by distance, the pair have stayed in touch throughout the process.
“He’s going to be a very successful businessman one day, whether it’s with cream puffs or whatnot,” Scheyer said.
Scheyer expressed disappointment that he has yet to try one of the cream puffs. Zoubek, however, joked this is a good thing because his former teammate needs to stay in shape.
“Jon is in training, and he’s already fat,” Zoubek said. “He can’t have any.”
Former teammate Casey Peters, who graduated with Smith, has also yet to try a cream puff but soon may have the opportunity to gain easy access to the tasty treats. Currently working at Crestline Investors in Fort Worth, Texas, Peters said he may move to New York City where he and Zoubek have discussed moving in together.
“Dream Puffz are going to be big,” Peters said. “He said they go pretty quickly as soon as they get put in the fridge.”
While Zoubek remains close to his connections from Duke basketball who are supportive of his endeavor, he has now evolved because he is no longer an athlete. He can stray from his once-strict diet and eat foods, such as cream puffs, that he used to avoid.
“Now that I’m done with basketball, I can indulge a little bit,” Zoubek said. “I eat it all the time.”