Donut City

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Story by Dave Eckert

I have to admit it I didn’t see this coming. Donuts, yes donuts, are all the rage in the Kansas City metro. There was just a smattering of mom and pop stores offering a handful of choices when I first lived in town 25 years ago. Recently though, donut shop locations and concepts have sprung up like mushrooms throughout the city and beyond. In fact, just in the past few months four new chains, and one local independent donut maker, either opened or are in the process of opening KC locations.

To try and get a handle on this donut, or doughnut, explosion, I sat down with fellow food journalist, friend, and former Food Editor, Jill Silva. “You find donuts in coffee shops, you find donuts in any kind of small niche locations. I mean, they’re kind of the new cupcake. Donuts have always been around, but now, we’re making them really fun and really playful and people are responding,” Silva noted.

Silva picked Westport’s Donutology for our chat, an appropriate location to discuss donuts while devouring some of Donutology’s delicious and innovative mini donuts. Donutology is one of the newer concepts sweeping through the donut world, offering, according to its website, 40,000 different combinations of flavors, icings, and drizzles to “create the perfect mini donut.” “Donutology’s genesis occurred by constantly running out of our classic donuts at my Daylight Donut stores. I wanted to create a donut store that made fresh donuts all day long with the ability for customers to customize to their own tastes,” Donutology’s founder Andrew Cameron commented. Cameron says Donutology has been wildly successful and there has been tremendous interest in franchising the concept, which Cameron says they’re looking into.

For her part, Silva says Donutology is tapping into a new donut demographic with its flavor combinations, later hours, and cross branding (Donutology carries Charlie Hustle merchandise and sells local favorite Polly’s Pop to pair with its donuts). “It used to be that a donut shop would open early in the morning and sell out by noon. But Donutology and other concepts are open late, which is much more appealing to a younger demographic,” Silva pointed out.

It’s not just Donutology using the late-night formula. Hurts Donut Company boasts that its recently debuted Ward Parkway Center location will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week! Silva also expects the cocktail bar and donut combination to resurface in the area following the recent demise of the Doughnut Lounge concept.

Silva says customization is the key. “They do that here at Donutology, but they also do that at Duck Donuts, which recently came to town in the Ranch Mart area from North Carolina. That’s one of the fastest growing chains in the country. They also do that at The Dapper Doughnut, which just opened in The Legends. People want more choices and these places are giving them that,” Silva stated. “There’s also a certain cache to this whole donut revolution that’s really appealing to young people, and the later you stay open, the better it is for those folks.”

So, with all of these new concepts catering to the Generation X and Millennial demographics, is there still a place for the old-fashioned donut shop-places like LaMar’s, Donut King, Big Daddy’s, Ray’s, and others? “There appears to be. You might bring your kids into Donutology because they want to customize their donut experience, while you might prefer to go to a more traditional shop where you can get a glazed donut and a cup of coffee. I think we can all coexist,” Silva stated.

So, hipsters and baby boomers can share in this donut revolution? Thank goodness. I mean, I really enjoyed my first experience at Donutology, and I’ll be back, but don’t you dare take away my chocolate long john, cinnamon twist, or traditional glazed from LaMar’s. That’s where my donut loyalty lies!

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