A couple weeks ago, MAD Donuts in White Plains, which I first wrote about back in November, reopened for the first time since closing because of COVID-19, this time as a pop-up. It was emotional for me to chat with the owner, Matt, and to hear about how the business had changed so dramatically since his grand opening in Westchester Mall.
While it was tough to process the impact of the pandemic on Matt, his family and his staff, it was also great to see him doing what he loves to do, and the results remain spectacular.
I was lucky enough to snag a four-donut sampler (Vanilla Bean Glazed, Chocolate Iced, Piña Colada and an unbelievable Lemon Meringue) and a two-pack of their one-of-a-kind apple fritters, which remain a thing to behold. As big as my face, the fritters are just so good. I always say I am just going to have a bite, and I always eat the whole thing. The tart granny smith apples contrasted with the sweet cinnamon glaze gets me pumped up every time.
As both Marc and I have written here, our local donut spots have gotten hurt so badly by COVID-19. Even NYC stalwarts like Doughnut Plant have struggled to figure out how to open in a way that makes sense. So I got immense joy from seeing Matt, his shop and his amazing donuts again. He just announced that the next MAD Donuts pop-up will be on Saturday, October 10, and I encourage anyone in or near Westchester County to place an order.
Last month, I hit the road to Cape Cod, which is now a bit of a late summer family tradition. While there, I always try to visit the Chatham Village Cafe and Bakery, which to me is the ultimate local, small-town donut destination. This year, it was a little different with social distancing, but I was so glad the bakery was still open. When I walked in, the first thing I saw was an employee walking from the kitchen to the front of the shop with a stack of fresh jelly donuts (“just made this morning”), and I knew it was going to be a great visit.
There’s just something about grabbing a donut (or maybe multiple donuts) and an iced coffee then sitting outside in the sunshine that is so perfect. This year, we even saw a couple (along with their dog and their cat) who we saw last year as well. When my daughter said hello, they mentioned that their dog Whitney whines in the morning until they go to the bakery. Amen, Whitney.
This trip, we also tried a new place called Old King’s Coffeehouse in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts. A newcomer founded in 2019, Old King’s is much more than a donut shop, serving tons of breakfast and lunch items. But keep your eyes peeled for the donut case at the front counter, which has a daily selection of classic (Old Fashioned) and more modern (Maple Bacon) flavors.
Finding these local spots – especially in an otherwise sea of Dunkin’ Donuts in Massachusetts – is always such a joy. Support your local donut shops, my friends!
It was one of the first times I had worn a mask in public. I hadn’t really figured it out so it was fogging up my glasses to the point that I couldn’t see that well. The experience was pretty stressful. But when I walked up to the Peekskill Brewery and got my box of donuts and goodies from Peaceful Provisions, I felt better. I felt more normal.
I’ve written about Peaceful Provisions before – it’s a small bakery that sells out of the ground floor of a brewery in Peekskill, NY, which is about an hour north of New York City by car and about 30 minutes north of where I live. They’ve always done small-batch, vegan baking by hand and sold their products primarily on the weekends. During the pandemic, they have continued to do their thing, accepting online pre-orders and curbside pickup.
For me, ordering from Peaceful Provisions and trekking up there has been a wonderful break from the current craziness. And it seems I’m not alone – Peaceful Provisions opens up ordering for each weekend on Mondays at noon, and while it used to be no big deal to get an order in for every weekend, they now sell out quickly. For me, getting donuts on the weekend is a return to normalcy, and I think it’s cool that others agree.
That weekend when I was new to my mask, I got an awesome order that included cinnamon sugar donuts, coffee cinnamon mixed nut donut buns (yeah, that’s a thing!), a dark chocolate brownie and a coffee cake. Cinnamon sugar is one of my favorite donut flavors of all time, and this one didn’t disappoint – it was light and airy and honestly amazing. The coffee cinnamon mixed nut donut bun was one of the most ambitious donuts I’ve ever seen – it was an enormous cinnamon bun-style fried and sugared creation topped with pistachios and almonds, then filled with a coffee pudding (made with Bucci coffee). I’m normally not a big filled donut fan, but it was special.
I’m glad people are finding donuts again, and I’m really glad Peaceful Provisions has stayed open during this challenging time. I now have an alarm set to try to place an order every week, which is a nice break in my day. I can’t wait to try again this week!
Most of our local independent donut shops are small businesses. Some have been around for a long time, while others are just getting off the ground. Some had just opened or expanded before the COVID-19 pandemic, and are struggling.
No matter their history, local donut businesses rely on foot traffic for either their whole business or a big part of it, and that is being affected right now. Also, most of these companies employ hourly workers, whose hours or entire employment might be threatened by the decrease in business.
However, most local shops now have online ordering, delivery and even gift cards, which you can use to help them stay afloat during this time. If you’re not comfortable with pickup or delivery, a gift card provides revenue to the business now, and you can use the card later. I put together a collection of links below – if I missed any, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them.
Last weekend, I was traveling for a family event and stopped off at Honey Dew Donuts in Mansfield, MA. I learned that it’s actually a chain (corporate and franchise) localized in New England, with 145 locations from Rhode Island to New Hampshire.
The idea of a “local chain” isn’t that common in the donut world anymore – while we have a few chains in NYC, most donut shops today are either ultra-local (single location) or national (Dunkin’, Krispy Kreme, etc.) – so it was cool to check out Honey Dew.
The Honey Dew experience felt like Dunkin’ with nice upgrades built in – the customer service was ultra-friendly and helpful and the donuts themselves were much higher quality. I wanted to try a bunch of different flavors, so I got a dozen, and I asked the employee helping me for recommendations. She was more than happy to assist, and reminded me that anyone getting a dozen donuts in Massachusetts better not forget a Boston Cream. And when their signature “Mansfield” donut was sold out, she gave us the last three donut hole versions instead.
I tried a bunch of flavors, and my favorites were the Chocolate Honey Dip, Blueberry Cake (I always try blueberry) and Cinnamon powdered. The first two reminded me of the Peter Pan/Donut Pub style (deep fried plus sweet glaze), but on the lighter side, while the Cinnamon was my favorite. It was super light and almost refreshing.
Overall, it was great to support a business like Honey Dew that has been going for so long and has had success with the multi-location regional model. I’ll definitely be back.
I was lucky enough to stop by the grand opening of MAD Donuts in Westchester Mall yesterday, and I was so happy for owner Matt and his family. While NYC is flush with gourmet and specialty donut shops, we are desperately thin where I live in the northern suburbs, so it’s exciting to have MAD open and changing that.
Matt and team did a great job on the aesthetics of the shop – it’s bright white inside and welcoming. The location is also prime, near a corner on the Retail 3 level across from the few chain eateries remaining now that the 4th floor “Savor” food court is open.
I knew I had to try the apple fritter, which is so big that it gets its own display case. I decided to stick with the Fall flavors theme and pair that with the caramel apple cider.
Other flavor options on opening day included pumpkin pie, cranberry iced, vanilla bean glazed, chocolate iced, PB&J, lemon meringue and brown sugar custard.
The apple fritter deserves the attention and press it’s been getting – the flavor balance and texture are awesome. You get a crunchy exterior, a touch of sweet with the vanilla and cinnamon icing, then a fun interior with soft apple bits and the classic yeast donut dough. The caramel apple cider also was great – not too sweet, which I really appreciate, with great apple flavor. The two together were a great pairing.
Scores: Apple fritter – 10/10; Apple cider caramel – 9/10
I am so pumped that MAD is open, and so happy to support a local small business owner where I live. You can follow MAD Donuts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
If you can find these, they are fine. Oddly, they were sold out where I live for most of the past few months, and now Dunkin’ has pivoted to their Halloween specialty donuts, which I expect sell much better than apple cider. I was able to find the donut (not hole) version a few times, and they are a traditional cinnamon sugar donut with a light apple flavor. Interestingly, the cinnamon donut from the normal Dunkin’ menu is more of a cinnamon powder style, so this apple cider take is a nice variation. Pretty good and definitely worth buying if they have them, but not worth hunting for.
Whenever I travel, I try to find a local donut shop to check out. As I wrote about last time, they can be hard to find. Sometimes that’s because Dunkin’ dominates and there really aren’t local options; other times, it’s because they are tucked away.
I recently visited Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which is generally dominated by Dunkin’ and a local chain called Honey Dew. However, I got lucky a few years ago when I discovered Chatham Village Cafe and Bakery, where they make classic donut flavors like cinnamon sugar (below), old fashioned, chocolate-iced and Boston creme. Getting a large iced coffee and a truly fresh, homemade donut, then sitting on the picnic tables outside, is an incredible way to start the day.
This past weekend, I decided to go on another donut trek, this time about 30 minutes north of where I live, to Peekskill, NY. There, tucked into the ground floor of the Peekskill Brewery, is Peaceful Provisions, a tiny outpost for small-batch donuts. From the outside of the brewery, you would never know there is a donut shop inside. But once there, I loved their small, yet impressive selection of donuts, which were mostly filled creations like their special maple pecan donut filled with cherry compote.
Both of these experiences were so awesome, but I had to seek out these locations and really explore to find them. Local donuts definitely exist, but they are not always obvious or easy to find. These spots may not have big signs, ad campaigns or locations in every rest stop on the highway. But when you track them down, they are pretty special.
I don’t live in NYC anymore – I am very much in the northern NY suburbs. What that means is my donut home life looks like this:
Bottom line – the options are limited. A few years ago, I felt very lucky to benefit from a deal that Dough did with Whole Foods stores in my area, which meant I could get some of their “beasts of yeast” along with my weekly groceries.
What’s interesting is that the NYC suburbs have proven to “work” for donuts – Boxer Donut in Nyack, NY and Glaze Donuts in New Jersey have shown that. But for some reason, my area lacks independent donut shops, and the big NYC donut brands have resisted moving north outside of those wholesale deals.
Word on the street is that we are getting a Duck Donuts in Mamaroneck, NY soon. Duck is a national franchise chain, so not quite the same as the incredible independent brands we have in NYC, but at least it will mix things up a bit.
When I was younger (I think around 10 years old), my Dad would go to a local bakery every Sunday morning to get donuts. It was always a dozen in a white cardboard box, and the two flavors I remember the most were chocolate frosted and jelly. I don’t know if they were high-quality, artisanal or good at all – I just knew that it was a tradition we did every Sunday that brought members of the family together.
Now, every Saturday morning, I have a similar tradition with my daughter. And even though I’ve had some of the best donuts in the world by working in New York City, we go to Dunkin’ Donuts. Why? It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s a tradition. Her favorite flavor is Boston Kreme, although she can be tempted by a seasonal flavor. I usually go with a classic jelly or sometimes a coffee roll if I want something more hearty. Are they the best-tasting donuts? Nope! But in this case, it’s not about having the best. It’s about the tradition of being together, of chatting in line, of discovering the latest seasonal flavor. It’s about how donuts can bring family members together.