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If only you could smell this story. Think cakey goodness. Think cinnamon. Think sugar. Think Petit Three Doughnuts.

That’s the name of a one-of-a-kind doughnut and coffee shop experience in Aurora Illinois, where the aroma of something extraordinary grabs you before you ever see the treats behind the counter.

Everything we make is from scratch. We use real ingredients; there are no artificial flavorings or coloring in any of our doughnuts,” says co-owner Bilin Bancherau.

We came up with Petit Three Doughnuts because we were French-inspired,” says Bilins husband and co-owner, Paul Bancherau. Petit Fours are bite-size decorative cakes (from France), typically of the sweet variety. We elected to drop the fours and go with three as it is my wife, my son, and myself.”

Bilin is no stranger to life as an entrepreneur.  Before she ever thought to open a bakery, she owned a company that helped families preserve memories with high-end wedding and event albums. The world of doughnuts was essentially foreign to her.

In fact, Bilin had only eaten two doughnuts in her life before deciding to dive into the doughnut journey. However, she did say she always had a dream of being a professional baker.

It was an encounter in her homeland in China in which Bilin credits as the spark that encouraged her to bake.

I remember one day, I stumbled upon a bakery in Shanghai, and I had a puff pastry,” Bilin explained. That pastry changed my life. I said to myself, ‘Oh my God, I want to own a bakery! You know, they look so good, and they taste amazing!’ I still remember my first bite of that puff pastry.”

Although Bilin had a passion for pastry, she was not a trained cook or a chef. She studied chemical engineering in college. However, her husband points out Bilin was always a tremendous home cook and he was receptive to her idea of opening a doughnut shop because of her resolve and grit as an entrepreneur.

“We had no doughnut experience, but it was something we both wanted to do,” recalled Paul who considers himself a doughnut aficionado who has traveled “far and wide” for doughnuts.

“I said, ‘If you’re going to make a doughnut, I’m going to tell you if it’s a good one or not. So, she embarked on the challenge and made a really good product, which is what we see behind me here today.” 

Eighteen months later, Paul says his wife had created what he considered an extraordinary doughnut. It was a sour cream old fashioned cake doughnut with a house-made glaze.

That was just the start of the journey for Petit Three Doughnuts, which in February of 2024, celebrated its first year of operations.

Survival, for us, has meant evolution,” Paul stressed.We started with what we knew to be great doughnuts and great coffee. The brand itself is a doughnut shop meets coffee house. Naturally, phase two was food. We had to make food with the same passion and commitment as our doughnuts and coffee.”

Today, the store offers signature, gourmet toasts as well as a wide variety of hot and iced coffees with house-made flavors. The bakery also has a selection of party trays. Specialty doughnut flavors include Blueberry Basil, Olive Pistachio, Strawberry Shortbread, Cacao on Choc, or Nutella Expresso.

My favorite doughnut is the Cinnamon Coffee Cake,” Paul said with a huge smile. “That is hands down the shop’s best seller. There is a secret ingredient that makes up that doughnut. If you are a cinnamon coffee cake fan, you are going to want to come and try this one.”

Paul says the family felt confident opening the shop because of his many years in sales management experience.

We had to do our due diligence, as you would in any business situation. We had to understand who is the client. What differentiates you in the market from others, how will you evolve the concept, and do you have the energy and capacity to do it?”

So very early on, we did a nice job of making certain our doughnuts presented well and tasted just as delicious as they looked,” says Paul.

The Bancheraus credit their early success to thinking outside the box and using the power of social media to communicate with customers and to generate new ones.

The power of your point of sale(POS) system is so important and having a rewards program is vital for success,” Paul shared.That, to me, was our biggest surprise and biggest success, because a good POS system is going to allow you to send a text message marketing campaign. “ 

The family concedes there have been tough, long days spent at the shop. Although she arrives at Petit Three Doughnuts about 5 a.m. every day, she says the sweetness of the journey is what she savors.

When I see a customer, especially the first timer, they come in and do not know what we have to offer,” Bilin explained. Then they have one bite and say ‘This is something I’ve never had anywhere else,’ and they will come back.”

What brings me joy is seeing Bilin have a smile on her face each day,” said Paul. It is knowing her dream of owning a pastry and bakery shop is coming to life. What is equally as fun and joyous, is seeing the smiles we put on our customers faces and say this is the best doughnut ever.”

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