Former Duke basketball center Brian Zoubek's cream puff shop Dream Puffz opened last week. For more on the opening, read The Blue Zone's post. Last week, The Chronicle's Daniel Carp went to Dream Puffz to review the facility and the cream puffs.
Who doesn’t want to have a 7-footer make you cream puffs? Trekking out to Haddonfield, N.J. to sample Brian Zoubek’s creations was a unique dessert experience. I had no idea what to expect, but visiting Dream Puffz made me wonder whether or not cream puffs are the next big thing in baked goods, especially given the way specialty cupcake stores and froyo joints are spreading across the nation like wildfire.
It was nice to see Zoubek himself behind the counter in his quaint bakery. As he interacted with every customer and thanked them for traveling from both near and far, you could tell the former Duke center truly cares about forging personal relationships with his clientele.
Zoubek is also trying his hand at promotional events. The day I went to the store, every customer walked out with a copy of Duke’s 2010 national championship poster, signed by Zoubek himself.
Oh, and the food is good too. To ensure freshness, every puff is filled right in front of you in the store. The shells are moist and dense, and customers have the option of plain puffs or chocolate-topped shells. Although Zoubek will likely look to expand from his current array of six cream fillings, they do provide a variety that suits any mood. His current lineup consists of vanilla bean, banana wafer, cookies and cream, pistachio, strawberry and peanut butter.
Zoubek advertises his personal favorite as cookies and cream, which I thought was very good, but I was very pleasantly surprised by some of the simpler flavors. The strawberry filling was light and refreshing and went very well with the puff’s chocolate shell.
But the vanilla bean stole the show for me. Normally vanilla signifies plain and bland, but not at Dream Puffz. Apparently, Zoubek imports his vanilla beans from Madagascar, which accounts for the puffs’ rich flavor. That was the winner in my book, but with six flavors that capture very different tastes, chances are everyone has a different favorite.
When I walked out of the store, I thought Dream Puffz has an opportunity to catch on, though getting business off the ground isn’t easy. Zoubek will face some obstacles in the coming months, mainly keeping his store traffic up in the small town of Haddonfield. He hopes to expand to New York City, and I think this store’s future will hinge on finding the right market. The puffs aren’t cheap but at $1.40-$1.75 per sizable puff, are not exceedingly expensive either.
In the end, the food tastes good, and good food will sell. For most I’m sure a unique concept like this is something they’ll have to see to believe. But after I’ve seen Dream Puffz, I’m starting to feel like a believer.
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