Jeremy Stephan’s two-month old Venice beachfront business, Trashy Gourmet, was inspired by a TV show segment.

Stephan decided to start the restaurant after watching an episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank” featuring a pitch by the co-owners of Cincinnati fast-casual grilled-cheese sandwich chain Tom and Chee that landed a $600,000 investment.

The restaurant’s signature dish – a grilled-cheese sandwich on a glazed doughnut – caught Stephan’s attention. Now he’s selling doughnut sandwiches.

In addition to grilled cheese, his menu includes peanut butter and jelly and banana, and barbecue chicken with cheddar cheese, all served on glazed doughnuts.

“We’re taking an old idea and we’re giving it a run,” Stephan said of his unusual take on the standard sandwich.

Several other Southern Californian eateries serve variations on the theme, but the 43-year-old Venice resident said offering his “Doughwiches” by the beach was one way to differentiate. And unlike others, Trashy Gourmet only focuses on doughnut sandwiches.

Stephan said the business is starting to catch on. The restaurant operated at a loss in December, but sales tripled in January and he was close to breaking even.

– Justin Yang

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