By Max Sullivan
It’s only been a few weeks, but Union Square Donuts is already selling out daily.
The new shop, opened up at 201 Somerville Ave in Union Square, is making a killing off of what part owner and chief donut creator Heather Schmidt calls “more like a high end pastry than a donut.”
Schmidt, who has been baking professionally for the past 15 years, says, “It’s more like brioche dough than a donut you’re going find in a normal donut shop.”
It’s not just the dough, though. The donuts come in a seven different flavors, some pushing the limits of what one might consider “right” for a donut. The maple and bacon, in particular, might catch donut lovers’ attention. Meat on a donut? Schmidt doesn’t mind pushing those boundaries. It’s part of the fun.
“Well, in my eyes, maple and bacon are just a natural combination,” Schmidt said. “I mean, maple syrup, bacon and pancakes. Yeah, that’s delicious, so why not on a donut?”
And on top of the flavors, the donuts are huge.
“They’re enormous,” Schmidt said. “They’re like the size of your face.”
Opening this past Valentine’s Day, the bakery is the brainchild of Somerville resident Josh Danoff and his brother, Noah, both of Culinary Cruisers, a local, family-run business that works all over Boston in different farmer’s markets. Noah, who lives in New York, called Josh in the fall of 2012 about an observation he had recently made at one of his own local markets.
“Noah called Josh one day,” Schmidt said, “And said, ‘Donuts are killing here. There’s a donut shop at the farmer’s market, and they have a line up the street. Let’s do donuts.” And Josh said, ‘I know exactly who to call.’”
That person was Schmidt, who Danoff became acquainted with last year.
“Josh emailed me and said, ‘I have one word for you: Donuts,’” Schmidt said. “And I said ‘I’m in.’”
From there, the project picked up wind fairly quickly. Josh Danoff, Schmidt and Danoff’s sister, Leah, all bought in, and after only two and a half months, the shop was opened. They sold out that Valentine’s Day, and they continued to do so for the following two and a half weeks. It hasn’t been a bad problem for the young business to have.
Schmidt, who also works as a culinary and sewing teacher, said the boom her new venture has generated is drawing a lot of her attention and excitement.
“The donuts are going so well, it’s really taking a lot of my focus,” Schmidt said. “People are excited about it, and I want to keep them interested, so it’s important to keep my focus on it and to keep developing new things for it and just keep making it better.”
And to keep those people interested, Schmidt and the Danoffs, including Noah all the way from New York, are constantly thinking of new ideas. They can only invent so many flavors at once, but the list of concoctions in their heads is endless. Right now, traditional German pretzel, fried ice cream and green tea are waiting in the cue.
Schmidt acknowledged that there is more demand than supply in these first weeks of the shop’s existence. The shop tends to sell out earlier than they’d like to on Sunday afternoons. Though they do plan on bringing in bigger equipment to produce more donuts at once in the kitchen, quality comes first. As far as Schmidt knows, every donut is going to be hand rolled, no matter how big her mixing bowls get.
And, though they would like to eventually expand their hours from their current Thursday through Sunday schedule, they wouldn’t dream of doing so without ensuring that they could supply that many donuts without sacrificing the quality.
“We’re looking at it, but until I can make quality donuts at a fast enough rate, then we can look at expanding our hours,” Schmidt said, “But quality is first, so we’re going to focus on that first.”