Unless you know where to look, you’d never notice the Donut and Muffin Factory tucked between the Godfathers Pizza and Little Caesars. The first two years we lived in Auburn, I drove past this red bricked hole-in-the-wall on my way to the train station. In truth, to call it a hole-in-the-wall is being kind because it looks like a run-down laundry mat in a seedy section of town.
Even pulling into their parking lot requires insider knowledge. “Is this where I turn?” I ask Kim not wanting to overshoot the lot. Two one-way streets make it difficult to get turned back around. It’s as if the donuts are so special, the owners don’t want anyone just passing by to enjoy them.
I maneuvered my way into the parking lot.
“Is it even open?” I ask Kim.
“Well, I stopped by before noon a while back and they’d run out of donuts”
How does a donut shop run out of donuts?
The place didn’t look open. No neon “OPEN” sign hanging from the window. No cars parked out front. I couldn’t tell if any lights were on, so I told Kim to stay in the van while I checked it out.
I walked to the entrance and peered through the windows. We’re in luck. A woman behind the counter motions me to come inside. I returned to the van to retrieve Kim and the kids. A bell jingles as we open the door. The kids immediately run towards the counter and begin pointing at any donut with sprinkles.
This isn’t Krispy Kreme. It’s not even Winchell’s. You won’t find a fancy menu, $4 coffee, or a cooler full of healthy salads. In fact, you won’t find many donuts behind the display case because the owner will have most of them on a tray next to her while she hand frosts each one.
The last time I stopped by she was mixing up a batch of frosting. When I asked what flavor she was making she replied, “Strawberry or vanilla. You pick.”
But what the place lacks in amenities, it makes up for in personality and authenticity. When you walk through the door you’re greeted by a copy machine. 15 cents a copy. It must be 20 years old. Above the copier is a local business bulletin board. Today’s featured business is “Busy Beaver Movers”. Only a couple coverless fluorescent lights flicker overhead.
While Kim and I choose flavors, the owner grabs two handfuls of glazed donut holes for the kids. That was almost enough to keep Kai’s tongue off the display case. Almost.
And good luck making sense of the menu. Most donuts are 65 cents. A few “fancy” ones are 75 cents. It’s not clear which are fancy. Bulk discounts kick in with half and full dozen orders. But it doesn’t matter much because the owner seems to ring up maybe half your order. Feels like I asked for about $20 worth. “That’ll be twelve fifty”, she says.
Kim was excited because three cruellers were there for the taking. She let me have the strawberry on my birthday. The kids devoured a few of their own before we took a dozen home with us.
So if you’re in Auburn and looking for a Starbucks-type experience, the Donuts and Muffin factory near the train station is not your best bet. But if you’re after a great tasting donut with absolutely no fanfare, you’re in luck.
Just get there early before they run out.